After reading the coverage on overground trains and the Tube providing Wi-Fi and the impact it will have on freesheets, I feel this debate that Wi-Fi could threaten the free press is a red herring. Peole don’t choose content because of the platform it’s delivered through. It always comes back to the quality of the content.
City AM, for example, is self-selected by our audience who choose to read it for the content it offers them. Our distribution model also means that readers have a chance to pick up and read us three or four times during their journey to work, so this development is not an issue for us.
It is also worth pointing out that I regularly take the East Coast train from London to Dunbar and the Wi-Fi service is awful. I just spent six hours on a cross-country train that has yet to provide access to Wi-Fi due to “difficulties” in installing it. So there’s a long way to go before it will be effective.
But even when it is on both underground and overground trains and running smoothly, you only have to look at airports to get a clear picture of how people will behave – people still read newspapers even though they have had free Wi-Fi for years. Remember that in terms of mobility, there is nothing more mobile than a newspaper.
I suspect these moves are more of a PR move by London mayor Boris Johnson for our international friends.