Diary: Express aims to profit at expense of callers

Hats off to Richard Desmond. At a time when the newspaper industry is plagued by plummeting circulations, Desmond has come up with an ingenious new way to generate revenue.

As you may or may not know, Desmond's Express Group is moving out of its Blackfriars HQ and into the old HSBC building by the Thames.

There, it will enjoy better facilities, a better view and, we hope, any old stationery HSBC has left behind. But the ingenious part of the whole operation is the fact that these new offices come complete with 0871 phone numbers.

Now 0871 numbers aren't quite as pricey as your standard premium-rate lines (you know, the type you found in Desmond's old top-shelf titles, such as Exotic Stories or the timeless Asian Babes), but they are paying numbers. So now, when a middle-Englander phones the Daily Express to complain that it lacks the spittle and bile of the Daily Mail, they'll be charged for it.

Diary called Northern & Shell for an explanation. A spokesman said: "Would you please call us back. We don't move into the building until next week."

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