Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: FT Cannot Ignore the New Kid in Town

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: FT Cannot Ignore the New Kid in Town

Article excerpt

The announcement of a new free business daily for London was made with impeccable timing - just before Pearson came out with its interim results on Monday.

The idea of a London Business Daily challenging the Financial Times in its heartland has been around for decades. When in charge of the Daily Express, Lord Stevens looked at the possibility and quickly rejected it. The FT was just too strong.

The market has changed. The advent of Metro has helped accustom people to the idea that free newspapers can have decent content, and endless amounts of business information is now available in electronic form for expert editing and repackaging.

The trick for David Parsley, editor of the planned paper and a former business editor of the Sunday Express, will be to ensure that he has enough quality content to satisfy a sophisticated readership.

The challenge for the man behind the venture, Lawson Muncaster, who used to be in charge of global sales at Metro International, is daunting, but not impossible. The target readership is still highly concentrated geographically and attractive to advertisers.

The greatest threat Muncaster could face would be a slimmed-down, free version of the FT designed to blow it out of the water before it can even launch. It is possible, but unlikely. The FT has always maintained its course like a stately galleon, disdainful of minnows trying to nibble at its edges.

The paper did produce a free Budget special this year, but in the past it decided against launching a Sunday edition to rival the Jeff Randall-edited Sunday Business. Given the sums of money lost by The Business in its various guises it was probably a wise decision.

But no one is immune to competition these days and Dame Marjorie Scardino at Pearson may have to think of some defensive measures.

At least there are modest signs of improvement at the FT. Monday's interims showed ad revenues up by 5%, with putting on 20% and the FT 's UK circulation 'stabilising', which probably means it's not falling as fast as it once was.

At least the FT will continue to have the support of the Pearson chief executive. Reams of nonsense have been written about Dame Marjorie planning to sell the FT. …

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