Irish Sun Sunday Edition to Launch This Week

After many months of speculation, Rupert Murdoch and News International announced today that the organisation will make a return to the Sunday tabloid market with the launch of the Irish Sun Sunday edition. The first edition of the new title will launch this Sunday, 26th February.

After Rupert Murdoch was initially quoted as saying that the launch would be “very soon”, the announcement that the first issue will launch this coming weekend has still caught the industry by surprise.  Quoted in the Irish Sun on Monday (20th February), Mr.Murdoch states that “We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday…I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs.”  Whether the shareholders of News Corporation will display such enthusiasm for this launch remains to be seen, as many have called for the newspaper division of the company to be sold off, particularly in light of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World last year.  What it does demonstrate is Rupert Murdoch’s determination and belief in the power of The Sun and newspapers as a whole.  Even more so considering the timing of the launch, as it comes amidst the Operation Elveden investigation and being just over six months since the closure of the News of the World.  Murdoch has always been known as a “newspaper man” and his determination to re-enter the Sunday tabloid market is yet further proof of this.

In an Irish context, the launch of the Irish Sun this Sunday will present News International with a serious challenge.  The Sunday newspaper market has shown further decline in 2011, with Sunday readership now at 63% of all adults in 2011 vs. 69% of all adults in 2010 .  With the demise of the Irish News of the World last July, the majority of its readers did not switch to another newspaper, as the only rival title to see any kind of uplift in readers was the Irish Sunday Mirror, which saw an increase of +40,000 readers.  The challenge for the Irish Sun on Sunday will be firstly to bring Irish Sun readers across to the new Sunday version and also to see whether they can recruit any of the lapsed Irish News of the World readership.  Neither should be taken as a given in the current market but it should be interesting to see.  At the very least, it will help to bring some energy back into the Irish newspaper market and, hopefully, generate additional competition between rival publishers in delivering value to readers and advertisers.

Garret Monahan – Head of Press

*Image courtesy of user smemon at flickr.com

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

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Long-form content not quite past its sell-by date

A recent posting on the iMedia website on “What the decline of print means for digital”, suggested that the printed news format (if we are to believe research amongst 58 major US marketers) is in for an even more torrid time. The new research says that (surprise, surprise) “visual information” is on the rise and articles, columns and long-form content, to name but three, are on the decline.

This may be largely a US phenomenon because there are still examples in the Irish market where must-read columnists, long opinion pieces and in-depth analysis are the ingredients that still attract a strong core of influential print readers. The Irish Times, Irish Independent and Sunday Times, are all cases in point. But the one that really contradicts the received wisdom that ‘long-form content’ and ‘columns’ are dead is the Sunday Independent.

The late and great Aengus Fanning, who edited the paper for 28 years, always managed to defy conventions on so many fronts and ‘digital conventions’ are no different. The Sunday Independent was and continues to be a success built on a formula of personality, opinion and comment, spiced up with a large mix of glamour and gossip.

Aengus and his editorial team have established a unique print-based formula that has engendered as much loathing as it has an avid following. But whatever one’s position, it still has that unmissable draw that many media owners lose sight of at their peril.

Yes, press and print output may be literally flat and two-dimensional but the Sunday Independent and indeed a few other Irish newspapers and magazines are proof that the medium, metaphorically at least, doesn’t have to fall into the same trap.

Peter McPartlin – Strategic Director

*Image courtesy of user somadjinn at www.sxc.hu

As always, if you have any opinions- supporting or conflicting- on this post or related matters we’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to post replies below.

Competition Authority Releases RTÉ Enforcement Decision

Following on from our previous post about their enforcement decision, the Competition Authority released their full findings in relation to RTÉ’s practice of pricing television airtime based on the share it receives of an advertiser’s TV budget. As RTÉ have agreed to cease this trading practice from the 1st July 2012, the Competition Authority decided to close the investigation. Their findings showed that the Share Deal “could amount to unlawful conduct” but that only a court could reach a definitive decision and this was not required as the share policy will cease. The findings went into some details on the “loyalty-inducing effects of the share deal” and it will be interesting to understand RTÉ’s interpretation of the findings and how this will impact on their trading policy going forward. What is very clear is that RTÉ have given a legally binding undertaking to replace the current trading system.

The enforcement decision in full, along with the agreement and undertakings of RTÉ, can be found here.

Ciaran Cunningham – CEO

*Image courtesy of user nolene at www.flickr.com