Newspapers' free DVDs top 130 million

A report by research company Screen Digest has revealed that some 130 million DVDs were given away free by British newspapers last year.

And it found that during the first quarter of 2006 as many DVDs were given away free in the press as sold by retailers.

The survey suggested that the practice may be harming the DVD industry, because it claimed a quarter of those who had received a free newspaper DVD said they would have otherwise bought the DVD from a shop.

Leading newspaper industry figures have already voiced their concerns about the practice.

Independent editor Simon Kelner condemned DVD giveaways at a Press Gazette event last month.

He said: "You can get a weekend paper that costs £1.70 and, with it, you get a DVD worth a tenner.

"The economics are fundamentally flawed, and we have to reverse that trend, because the obsession with DVDs and CDs for short-term circulation gain is a form of crack cocaine. Newspapers have to wean themselves off this addiction. It's going to be a painful process, but I think we have to do it."

In 2005, Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey hit out at the DVD marketing tactics of some of her competitors, saying: "We will not make unprofitable or unsustainable investments for short-term circulation gains. We're not going to rent readers."

Press Gazette research has found that DVD giveaways cost newspapers about 50p per copy — or up to £1 million for a mass-market title.

This includes the cost of production, insertion, a licence and TV promotion.

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