Irish independent 005

Broadsheets trimmed, terminated in 2012

By Irish Echo Staff

The Irish Times lost an inch in width, the Irish Independent bid adieu to its broadsheet version and now sells only as a tabloid.

These were but two examples of the consequences of market pressures on Irish newspapers (as opposed to Irish versions of British titles) in 2012, a year that will go down as one of the toughest ever in the Irish newspaper industry.

Production costs put paid to the Independent's broadsheet version, which had been printed in tandem with the tabloid version in recent years.

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"The 30,000-plus active readers of the product will have to choose the compact, another title, or stop buying newspapers," the Irish Times stated in a report.

However, in reporting on its own current state, the still broadsheet Times underlined the fact that it was a little less broad going into 2013.

"Newsprint costs were a factor in The Irish Times decision to lose an inch off its width as part of a redesign," the Times story said.

The report added that 2012 had been a tense year for the family-owned Irish Examiner group (owned by Thomas Crosbie Holdings). The group enters 2013 with bank debts of €28 million.

And the story continued in gloomy vein: "It could be a grim first quarter as the heavily indebted Independent News and Media is expected to announce redundancies. On the stock market, INM is now going cheap and its 29.9 per cent shareholder Denis O'Brien could buy it or, at the other extreme, walk away. When it comes to what the Irish media industry will look like this time next year, all bets are off."

One thing very much off and on the outs is totally free access to website content.

"Having concluded that advertising-only digital revenue models don't add up, both dailies (Times and Independent) plan to erect paywalls in 2013."

But there was a sober assessment of even this apparently logical effort to raise revenue.

"Paywalls aren't always a savior, however, as Thomas Crosbie Holdings has learned from the Sunday Business Post, where subscriptions introduced in 2011 failed to turn its fortunes around."