Press buyers question the market for new nationals

Press buyers are slamming the lack of radical launches in the struggling newspaper market and say media owners must find the next “Metro idea”.

Today (Wednesday) sees the launch of a national daily newspaper for the betting community, The Sportsman, the brainchild of former Telegraph Group chief executive Jeremy Deedes.

Also, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan is helping launch First News, a national weekly newspaper targeted at nine- to 12-year-old readers.

But buyers believe neither newspaper will survive.

Dominic Williams, head of press at Carat, says: “The Sportsman is a brave move but it may not last a year. It’s entering a tough market where Trinity Mirror’s Racing Post has only a 67,000 circulation. “With such strong sports coverage in all the national newspapers, where will new readers come from?” he asks.

Another buyer has questioned the wisdom of a newspaper for children at a time when News International scrapped its Sunday Times kids’ supplement Funday Times and moved it online.

The buyer says: “If funky brands like Smash Hits can’t keep kids’ interest, there is no way they will go for a weekly newspaper of this kind.”

A third buyer says there needs to be more thought behind finding a gap in the market. “Launching Metro was a gamble – nobody had given away free newspapers here before – but it changed the market. We need something as radical to launch, but it needs somebody to spot a gap,” says the buyer.

The Sportsman marketing director Mark Dixon says the product is “built to last” and advertisers have signed up to long-term deals.

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