Welsh daily's business plan targets annual subscribers

By Clive Betts

Readers who buy annual subscriptions in advance will be the
cornerstone on which the first Welsh language daily newspaper will be
based.

The launch team – headed by a former journalist who once edited a
Government magazine aimed at the Russians – believe they are nearing
their initial 5,000 circulation target.

The paper, titled Y Byd
(The World), will circulate throughout Wales via newsagents;
subscribers will pay for their five issues a week with vouchers.

Y
Byd board chairman Ned Thomassaid: “Most minority languages possess
their own dailies, and subscriptions are essential to their success:
you could never rely on sufficient casual purchasers spotting the paper
in a shop.”

The same principle is used by the German-language Tageszeitung in Berlin for 50,000 of its 60,000 sales.

At
a regional launch, more than 300 supporters were wined and entertained
at the newly-opened Wales Millennium opera and arts centre in Cardiff.
The general view of this mainly middle-class group was that the project
would certainly get off the ground, because of support for the
language. But views were more reserved about its longer-term survival.
One of the few weeklies in Welsh, the northern regional Yr Herald, is
about to be incorporated into the Daily Post (Press Gazette , 4
February) and of the others, none sells much over 4,000.

In
documents handed out at the Cardiff meeting, the company says: “You
cannot expect to make a fortune, but our business plan foresees making
a small profit in five years.”

No printer has been named: the
company needs a rotary press in an area that will enable copies to
reach the border-town wholesalers that serve Wales.

Thomas
declined to give a precise launch date beyond saying that £220,000 has
been raised towards the supporter-shareholders’ target of £300,000.
Almost half of annual income will be from sales and over a third from
advertising.

Thomas himself will not edit the paper. He worked as
an education correspondent for The Times “before Mr Murdoch” and then
edited the Government’s cultural magazine Angliya , whose sale in
Russia was limited to 100,000. He then founded the broadly similar
English Planet in Wales.

After academia in Aberystwyth and
academic publishing, Thomas headed the Mercator European research
organisation in Aberystwyth, specialising particularly in minority
media – and when establishing a society to link the 26
minority-language dailies across Europe, he realised what Welshspeakers
were missing.

With European Objective One grants currently
available to create work in poorer regions of Wales, Thomas said: “Now
is the right time.” The project will create 16 journalism-related jobs.

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