Daily Mail competition ‘will force Independent to go entirely compact’

A LEADING Dublin-based advertising agency has predicted that the Irish Independent will be forced into switching entirely to a compact version following yesterday’s official launch of the Daily Mail’s Irish edition.

“It wouldn’t be too surprising to see the Indo move totally to a compact edition,” said Joe Dalton of AFA O’Meara Advertising.

Opinion is divided amongst media commentators, however, as to the effect the new player will have on Ireland’s newspaper industry.

Many seem to agree that the traditional tabloids, particularly the Irish Daily Star as well as the Irish Independent, could be the titles to suffer most should the Mail prove a hit with Irish readers.

The Irish Independent claims that demand is almost 50-50 for its compact and broadsheet editions and that any immediate move to remove the latter could upset readers and take away choice.

“The Mail’s targets seem achievable but sales may be at the expense of existing players,” Mr Dalton added.

Associated Newspapers gave 200,000 copies of the first edition of the Irish Daily Mail away free yesterday and is to charge 30c for the rest of this week. It has stated that it will be “aggressively priced” which most believe to be around 75c. There are no immediate plans to sell Irish advertising in the paper and its content is aimed largely at female readers.

Associated will print 100,000 copies a day and is looking for daily sales of around 40,000.

The paper’s British edition has a circulation of 9,000 here already.

Neil Clifford, media analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers does not foresee much reaction from Abbey Street in the near future.

“The Independent’s move to a compact version and a more mid-market editorial content has probably made the challenge here more difficult. The Indo will probably adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach; there’s not much point in reacting immediately. Succeeding in the newspaper business is a long-term game. The price differential may not actually play a part; there might actually be more threat to the established players here if the Mail was closer in price to them. If it is sold at around 75c people may treat it as an extra buy rather than as a replacement for an existing read,” he said.

Independent News & Media (Ireland) chief executive Vincent Crowley added: “Ireland is one of the most competitive markets around. It’s already pretty cluttered with a lot of snouts in the trough.”

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