Analysis: Media Track - The Metros may boost the regional morning market without killing existing titles

When Swedish newspaper publisher Modern Times Group threatened to launch a free daily morning paper in the UK, Associated Newspapers moved quickly and aggressively.

When Swedish newspaper publisher Modern Times Group threatened to

launch a free daily morning paper in the UK, Associated Newspapers moved

quickly and aggressively.



First in London, and then in a number of other major UK cities,

Associated launched free morning papers for commuters under the brand

name Metro - the same title used by the Modern Times Group in Sweden

At the same time, other publishers suddenly became desperate to launch a

similar free morning title and all sought to call it Metro.



The Guardian came out on top in Manchester, forcing Associated to change

its title to the North West News. But Associated secured the rights to

the Metro brand in Newcastle (the paper is actually published under

licence from Associated by Trinity Mirror).



What is interesting is the combative ways in which publishers have

sought to secure the free daily morning markets. Battles are being

fought not only over the brand itself, but also over distribution.



The emergence of the Metros shows that publishers whose flagship

regional morning papers are all showing a slow but steady decline in

sales are seeking to hold on to readers and advertisers.



All the top 12 regional paid-for morning papers have recorded a drop in

circulation since 1990. The worst casualties are the Darlington Northern

Echo and the Western Mail. Both have lost almost a quarter of their

circulation since 1990. In Glasgow, where a Metro launched in November,

the Herald’s circulation had fallen by 18 per cent by June 1999.



The Metro brand is well placed to revitalise a flagging morning market.

It provides an add-on to the groups’ local papers with its mix of

national and local news. The emphasis on national headlines and the fact

that it is free means that Metro can perhaps entice new readers without

cannibalising the reader base of the regional morning and evening

titles.





MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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