Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev, who owns three British newspapers, will launch the country’s first quality daily in 25 years this week in a risky bid to grab more of the ailing British press market.
The concise new paper, called i, will be available from tomorrow for just ￡0.20 (US$0.31) — a fifth of the price of British broadsheets such as the Times.
It is “specifically targeted at readers and lapsed readers of quality newspapers,” according to Lebedev’s main national daily, the Independent, which will share editorial staff with the new publication.
“Time-poor newspaper readers, and especially commuters, have been telling us for years that they are inundated with information and just don’t have the time to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis,” Independent executive Andrew Mullins said.
The Independent and the Independent on Sunday were bought by Lebedev in March, a year after he purchased London’s Evening Standard.
The launch of a new paid-for title is risky in a market that is both saturated and in decline.
Britain has 11 major national dailies, whose circulation has shrunk an average 5.75 percent in the last year to 10.3 million copies a day, according to the industry’s performance monitor, the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The industry’s more expensive “quality” newspapers, priced at about ￡1, have suffered more than tabloid titles priced at between ￡0.20 and ￡0.50.
The Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Guardian have each suffered a drop in circulation of more than 10 percent over the last year. The Independent now sells only 186,332 copies a day, compared with 251,470 in September 2007.
“By pricing the newspaper at ￡0.20, i will be the most -competitively priced paper on the UK news stand,” MEC media agency analyst Rob Lynam said. “The Independent will be hoping to cannibalize the sales of other quality newspapers, whilst enticing readers of Metro to part with ￡0.20 and upgrade to a higher quality product.”
The average reader of Metro, a morning freesheet available in major British cities, is 33 years old — 20 years younger than the average reader of a quality newspaper, Lynam said.
“i will hope to attract the younger urban reader who would like to read a quality newspaper, but does not have the time to read a whole quality newspaper on their daily commute, and is not prepared to pay a pound,” Lynam said.
This is not the first time Lebedev has taken a risk with one of his newspapers — he transformed the 60-page Evening Standard into a freesheet after buying it last year.
“The Evening Standard has been reinvigorated, and is the newspaper success story of 2010,” Lynam said.
The newspaper has boosted its circulation from 140,000 to 700,000, which has allowed it to attract 30 percent more advertising at higher rates than before.
Lynam said they were ahead of their business plan, which aims to be profitable by 2012.
In his latest gamble with the launch of i, Lebedev must convince readers to part with ￡0.20 at a time when Britain is feeling the pain of huge cuts to public spending.
Evgeny Lebedev, the son of Alexander Lebedev and the chairman of Independent Print Ltd, which publishes the British titles, said he was confident the gamble would pay off.
“We have shown by our investment in the London Evening Standard that, even in these highly competitive times, it is possible to revive a brand,” he said.
Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB analyst, made his fortune in banking in the 1990s.
He and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev own 49 percent of the Russian opposition magazine Novaya Gazeta, whose star reporter, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in October 2006.
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to