The Scotman’s publisher Andrew Neil told agencies last week that,
thanks to its cut in cover price, his newspaper now boasts a higher
circulation in Scotland than all the London-based broadsheets
Neil said this was the first time The Scotman’s figures had beaten that
of its London rivals in the newspaper’s 183-year history.
The Edinburgh-based title is now also Scotland’s biggest selling
Last Thursday, Neil explained to press buyers from London agencies that
since the cover price was cut from 45p to 20p in May, sales have soared
by 30 per cent to a record 105,420 in June.
He revealed the July ABC would fall to 98,000 because of local holidays,
though this would still be 36 per cent higher than last July.
The target for August, traditionally a good month for The Scotsman
because of the Edinburgh Festival, is 110,000. September and October
will bring a new wave of TV promotion and a sale of 120,000 is
Neil admitted that at 20p, the paper loses money on every copy it sells
but said the aggressive pricing strategy would continue. He said the
price could not be sustained ’long term’ but refused to say how long it
would carry on. He added that a lot depended on how much additional ad
revenue could be generated.
Neil also revealed that if he had not taken action, The Scotsman’s
advertising base would have been completely eroded by the end of this
decade. He insisted his initiation of a cover-price war was not an
assault on fellow Scottish newspapers but a direct attack on ’an ancient
and common enemy’.
’Like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, we have repelled the English
invaders. Unlike Edward II, they haven’t fled but they are most
definitely on the run,’ said Neil.
Questioned as to why the 20p cover-price cut on sister title Scotland on
Sunday had been abandoned after only two weeks, Neil said it was ’merely
a warning shot across the bows’. He added that he couldn’t afford to
sustain price cuts on both papers.
A more honest assessment might be that the increase in copy sales of
5,000 could not justify the lower price.