Dual Formats Lift Britain's Times and Independent

17 February 2004

The decision to launch a tabloid edition continues to pay dividends for British national daily broadsheets The Independent and The Times, judging by new circulation figures.

The Independent -- which pioneered the two-size format last September -- saw sales surge 4.65% in January compared with the month before. News Corporation-owned The Times, which launched its own commuter-friendly compact version two months later, rose 3.83%.

However, The Independent is the big winner year-on-year, rising 4.6% last month while The Times sank 7.02%.

Rival daily broadsheets The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph also rose compared with December (traditionally a bad month for publishers). The former was up 2.16%, though fell 3.84% compared with January 2003; the latter climbed 0.35%, but tumbled 5.4% year-on-year. The only broadsheet daily to be down on December was the Financial Times, which slipped 5.6%.

Despite the success of the dual-format papers, The Guardian this week ruled out launching its own compact version.

Editor Alan Rusbridger pointed to the huge costs involved and suggested both The Independent and The Times were moving towards a tabloid-only strategy. He insisted The Guardian's priority would be to "maintain the integrity of [its] journalism", promising to "do something distinctive in our own time".

Elsewhere, the midmarket and tabloid national dailies all saw sales rise in January compared with the month before. The Daily Mail was up 3.2%, while its rival the Daily Express climbed 5.5%. The Daily Star surged 8.8%, The Sun rose 4% and The Mirror crept up 1%.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff