UK papers go digital to reach readers in Athens

Printing with Océ enables FT to get copies into Athens

Sports fans at the Athens Olympic Games will be able to read British newspapers before they reach newsagents in the UK, thanks to new printing technology.

The publishers of the Telegraph, Financial Times and The Guardian have signed deals with short-run printing specialists Océ for the service. It is the first time this technology has been used at a major sporting event.

Dutch printing giant Océ launched its first Digital Newspaper Network printing site in London three years ago. It now also has sites in Sydney, Johannesburg and Valencia.

By using digital printing technology, Océ is able to print newspapers published on the other side of the world.

Conventional offset printing requires the production of plates and is usually only viable when several thousand copies are needed. Oc̩ claims that using digital printing Рfrom computer straight to page Рit can print anything from one to 10,000 copies.

The company has signed deals to print more than a dozen titles from across the world at Athens.

It will receive digital versions of the British papers at 4.30am Athens time, minutes after they have been sent to their respective UK printers. Black-and-white versions will then be produced on newsprint and distributed in Athens, hours before many UK newsagents receive their copies.

Océ will print about 3,000 copies a day of the British titles, selling them for about £1.30, from 3-31 August. It is also printing The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph.

According to Océ, some newspapers will be selling advertising targeted at the Athens market and will also include localised pages of editorial.

Financial Times head of print services, Richard Boulton, said: “The change in logistics for the Olympic Games – with large lorries being banned from going into Athens between midnight and 6am – means it is essential to print locally. Printing with Océ at Athens during the Olympics is the only way we can get the Financial Times to our readers at the Games on the same day of publication.”

Journalists are expected to outnumber athletes by two to one at the games, with a total of 21,500 expected to attend.

By Dominic Ponsford

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