Regional Newspapers - UK - May 2009
When Mintel last reported on this market in November 2007 the trade was confident that sound strategies were in place to maintain readership across different formats, but it is still not clear whether they have succeeded overall or not. In a market with around 1,270 titles there are inevitably great variations in performance as well as style and size, but there have been some successes despite tough market conditions. For instance, the shift of some titles to a part-paid, part-free distribution model has done much to maintain reader numbers.
Nevertheless, sales of the paid-fors (which account for around half of titles) are estimated to be down by 18% between 2004 and 2009. This volume decline is not very different from that seen in the nationals sector as both face greater media diversity and changing patterns of consumer behaviour. In practice, another issue is now receiving greater attention, and that is reduced profitability.
Despite the decline in sales and profitability, print will certainly remain integral to the regional newspapers market as one component together with other formats. This is the case even though some individual titles may not survive. What is still more certain is that investment and creativity are more necessary now than ever. This is the time for new thinking and a number of different approaches are beginning to be considered as discussed in this report.
The report looks at the main market developments and asks, “The regional press – still the pillar of the community?”
Why do local newspapers appear more at risk now than nationals?
Are people less interested in their local community?
How are people accessing local news and information?
How do regional, local and national newspapers’ priorities vary?
Could other business models represent a valuable alternative or addition to the existing stock market model for regional publishing?
What are the best strategies for survival?
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