Do Londoners really want another commuter daily?

Rosie Boycott may be a respected newspaper editor and could secure substantial backing for her publishing venture. Even so, will Londoners want it?

Former Express editor Rosie Boycott, if this week’s press is anything to go by, is contemplating launching another daily newspaper into the London market.

This would not compete with Associated Newpaper’s (free) morning Metro or Evening Standard but would address a gap in the market for a lunchtime/afternoon features-based product.

Sixty-four per cent of adults in London already claim to read a daily newspaper. This figure is fairly representative of the UK. However, of those, only 23 per cent claim to read either the Evening Standard or Metro. This is well below the daily regional press readership of other conurbations in the UK, which in many cases have only one title available (although Metro is stepping in to change this in most major cities).

Why are so few Londoners reading a regional daily? Is it that they aren’t interested in what goes on in London, or do they feel their needs are not being addressed by the papers available to them?

Londoners are one of advertisers’ major targets, and commercially minded publishers provide them with free listings and entertainment guides within the weekend national press. Londoners can also buy the listings magazine Time Out and, for those in demographically high profiling areas, the property and lifestyle focused London Magazine and Fabric (soon to be launched) are distributed free. But Boycott obviously thinks this does not satisfy Londoners’ needs.

Boycott wants to offer Londoners a newspaper similar to those available in the US, such as The Village Voice in New York. My guess is that the product’s content would be similar to that in the Illustrated London News, but more like the Metro in format.

If this is the case, it would have no problem addressing the discerning upmarket London adult, but I have reservations about how many of these it would reach. The title’s circulation will be largely dependent upon the marketing budget available to support the launch and subsequently beat off fierce competition from wealthy rivals.

Distribution will also be key. If it is to be a paid-for paper, I can’t foresee many problems with newsagents stocking it, but if people are expected to buy it while popping out for their sandwich at lunchtime, when would they read it?

Boycott is well respected in the industry and I am sure her backers will invest in her sufficiently to maximise success. Equally, she will have no problem in finding editorial staff, for plenty of her ex-Express colleagues are available.

But will it work? I wonder. As a London worker myself, I already feel over-serviced by the morning Metro, the Sunday Times and women’s glossies.

Jo Bartlett is associate director of CDP Media

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