Government aid sought for new Welsh daily newspaper

The first-ever Welsh-language daily newspaper has revealed how it plans to make money – with an innovative subscription model and Government funding at its core.

Y Byd (The World) has said it will launch next March and will publish on weekdays. It is aiming for 5,000 monthly direct debit subscriptions, with copies either collected from newsagents throughout Wales or delivered to the reader.

With the number of Welsh speakers approaching 500,000, the paper hopes for an eventual sale of 15,000, which compares with 40,000 for the Western Mail in Cardiff and a similar figure for the Daily Post in north Wales.

The tabloid will cost 70p, rising to £1.20 for Friday’s weekend edition. Subscribers will get a 25 per cent discount on the newsstand price, with an annual subscription costing £156 a year. A cheaper web edition will be available.

The paper, edited by former BBC journalist Aled Price, will cover local, national and international news from sport, leisure, business and politics, and will be politically independent.

Details of another key innovation – Government funding – were still in flux as Press Gazette went to press. The minority Labour administration at the Welsh Assembly is negotiating on forming a coalition cabinet with Plaid Cymru, which promised in its manifesto to support a daily paper.

If the talks fail, Labour’s likely replacement would be a ‘rainbow’coalition with Plaid, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

Alun Pugh, the pre-election culture minister, has said he is opposed to Government aid for the paper.

Ned Thomas, chairman of Y Byd and once a journalist with the Times Educational Supplement, said it was noteworthy that the current culture minister, Carwyn Jones, was present at the press conference announcing Y Byd’s plans and hopes.

The form of Government assistance is unclear. Thomas says ‘the mould has already been broken’on Government financial assistance to newspapers through the Arts Council grant to the Irish-language Lá in Belfast.

Pressure is also being put on the UK Government to fund similar projects by the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

Y Byd will employ 25 staff, with headquarters in Machynlleth on the west coast. The paper will be printed on evening presses in either Newport or Deeside.

It has already apparently had a cool welcome from competitors in the Welsh newspaper market. Neither the Mail nor the Post mentioned the launch plans, and the Welsh-language weekly Golwg printed a comment that the paper seems aimed at the ‘upper crust”.

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