I newspaper mulls local TV involvement

The i newspaper is plotting to play a key part in its publishing company’s plans to hold the licence to run the local TV station in London.

i newspaper

Speaking to Marketing Week on the i’s second anniversary today (26 October), Andrew Mullins, managing director of Independent Print Limited and Evening Standard Limited, said the paper is looking to leverage its “youthful, participatory” audience on the channel.

Ofcom revealed in August that the Evening Standard Limited was bidding to run an 18-hour-a-day news and entertainment channel dubbed “London Live”, backed by annual marketing investment of £5m.

Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt unveiled the local TV scheme in 2011 – which will see licences for up to 21 regional stations handed out by the end of the year – in a bid to offer “a new voice” for local communities.

Mullins says that while the channel would be led by the Evening Standard newspaper, it would offer the i newspaper to enter the event management space.

He adds: “Our ability to interact with our readers would be multiplied massively. It would build on the whole idea of having a circular relationship with our readers: interacting through the second screen, to TV, then pushing back to the paper in the morning.”

Going forward the i will “have more confidence in its brand” as it continues to build the size of its readership and ad revenue. This will allow additional marketing to its previous one push per year, and the development of more editorial products, apps and will help it increase its distribution to places beyond newsagents that are more relevant to people’s daily lives, like its recent tie up with Starbucks.

Mullins explains that the success of the i brand has helped stabilise the Independent, which was “ a very sick brand, at death’s door” losing both audience and revenue ahead of i’s launch.

He adds: “One of the things people don’t pick up on is that the I and Independent are the same family and the same content. We have added [paid-for] sales to both titles, [meaning] the Independent has never sold so many copies since its heyday in 1993.”

In September, the Independent and I’s combined circulation was 364,240, according to their ABC certificates. I marked a 0.52 per cent month on month increase to 282,995, while the Independent dropped 0.68 per cent to 81,245.

Mullins says the introduction of the i means Independent titles have “three times” the ad revenue potential than before. He claims they marked double digit display revenue growth last year, while its rivals mostly reported double digit declines.

He adds that while its rivals are investing heavily in their digital products, his company has profited from investing in print.

“Digital nobody seems to monetise but our [innovation] is in print; it’s digital pence to print pounds. Money is coming in disproportionally more [compared with our competitors]. The Independent brand is now much more stable, which allows us now to develop digital propositions as the Independent becomes more likely to break even,” Mullins says.

The Independent’s sister title The Evening Standard went into profit for the first time this year, its owner claims. In the year to 30 September it was said to have made a profit of just over £1m, almost three years to the month after the paper went free.

The paper was sold to Alexander Lebedev, the owner of the Independent titles, by former owner Daily Mail and General Trust in 2009. DMGT still retains a minority stake.

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