Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Paper chase

A fresh war of words has broken out between Associated and News International.

In a statement issued this morning, Associated, which publishes the Evening Standard and London Lite, dismissed claims by rival thelondonpaper as misleading.

It is calling thelondonpaper irresponsible for increasing its print run because of the rubbish that it is creating. It might have a point, but they've both recently been hit by rubbish claims (insert some joke in here about the content).

The two freesheets could face a clampdown after complaints from Westminster City Council about the rubbish generated by the two titles' distribution network in the capital. Apparently, Westminster City Council says an extra three tonnes of waste has been produced daily since. Three tons? I hope that's all for the recycle bin.

"Thelondonpaper has been totally irresponsible in increasing its print run by 100,000 when it is clear that many of the existing free papers are being dumped on the streets, and London boroughs are calling for both newspaper groups to resolve the litter problem caused.

"Increasing distribution is meaningless, unless there is an increase in demand. The most likely outcome of this latest increase in free papers is an increase in litter."

OK, fair enough, but then we really get down to it, Associated claims that recent research it carried out, through Other Lines Of Enquiry, showed that its London Lite is the favoured free afternoon paper, with some 58% of thelondonpaper's readers preferring London Lite.

"London Lite continues to satisfy genuine demand, and executives at the paper are working closely with local councils to maximise recycling and resolve the litter problems."

Associated is clearly rattled and maybe with good reason. In the ABCs last week, News International's thelondonpaper continued to lead in the afternoon circulation war, distributing 436,436 compared with Associated's 400,977 copies of London Lite handed out on the streets of the capital.

That's not all. What this is really about is The London Evening Standard. While the ABCs showed it had bounced back in January (only from December, which is less than a real newspaper month), up 5.1% to sales of 276,562, it remains down year on year by 14.1%.

We that it is really about this as Associated tells us so with the rest of its statement that slates thelondonpaper.

"Furthermore, it is absurd for thelondonpaper to compare itself with the Evening Standard, just as it would be if it tried to compare itself to any of the other quality paid for newspapers. It is like comparing a junk snack with a gourmet meal! [Their exclamation marks, I should add.]

"The Evening Standard sets the agenda for London. It is read by opinion formers, people of influence and ideas. It reaches more AB adults then any other daily paper in London -- just the people advertisers want to reach."

If that wasn't enough, Associated has launched an ad campaign this week for the Standard that hits at thelondonpaper even move. It has someone exiting a Tube and dropping it through the gap.

Irked much? I guess so.

UPDATE: Did I say rattled? News International has just put this statement out in response.

"The Standard are clearly rattled. It's a desperate act to cast aspersions on free newspapers, when Associated own both Metro and Lite. Does this suggest a long-term future for Lite? Londoners are deserting the Standard in droves, with 28% less buying the paper in January than in the previous year*. The ABC shows that twice as many people are now picking up thelondonpaper as buying the Standard."

*(Source: ABC Jan 2007 Vs. Jan 2006 net circ excl. bulks).


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Lost Boy said...

To be honest, I wish both Lite and the londonpaper would disappear and take their menacing distribution staff with them. Do these guys get whipped if they come back with newspapers unread? The Standard is a shadow if its former self, catering as it does to three women who live in Hampstead and nobody else.


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