Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sold for a song

So the Indy and Sindy have been sold for a £1. It will be interesting to see what Lebedev does, some options are discussed by Roy Greenslade here
So what's in store for the Indy and Sindy? It would appear that Lebedev has several choices, though all of them involve a risk. He could cut the price by, say, 50%, and then continue with national circulation. My hunch is that Rupert Murdoch would not allow The Times to be undercut on price, so it might restart a costly price war.
He could, of course, imitate his Standard initiative and turn it into a free. Murdoch would be unlikely to follow suit. But distributing a free title nationwide seven days a week would be enormously costly.
He could do as Associated's free morning, Metro, does and restrict distribution to major cities and conurbations. That would put him into a head-to-head battle with Associated, his landlords in Kensington and minority partners in the ownership of the Standard.
He could distribute the Indy free in the London area and make it a paid-for title in areas outside, say, the M25 ring.
He could turn the Indy into a London-only free, offering a quality paper in the morning to match his quality paper in the evening.
He could close the Sindy, of course, though I rather imagine he would want to avoid making such an unpopular decision.
As to the editorship, Greg Dyke has been mentioned as has Jeremy Paxman. Rod Liddle who would have been something new and different at least has apparently been spiked by the po-faced Facebook campaign against him organised by the likes of Liberal Conspiracy and Diane Abbott..

Whatever happens I hope the new owner and editor move the Indy away from its "Daily Mail for those who recycle" doom-mongering and right-on platitudinising. The current paper readership is so tiny (90,000 full price readers according to Greenslade) that I reckon they could and should be mainly ignored if a major change of direction is decided on.

Interesting times !

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