Newspaper plans new look and more extensive digital offerings
THE IRISH Times Ltd will implement a number of initiatives over the next 12 months to consolidate its position as a leading provider of news and analysis across print and digital media.
A new content management system will be introduced later this year, which will significantly enhance the company’s print and digital offerings.
The newspaper will also undergo a major redesign. It will continue as a broadsheet publication but in a narrower format.
Managing director Liam Kavanagh said this would make the newspaper easier to read and give it a “modern and fresh” look.
“We are hoping that what we produce will be something that is different, interesting and exciting, and sets The Irish Times apart from others in the market,” he said. “But there will be no move away from the ethos and editorial values that we have.”
The Irish Times is also planning to undertake an “edgy” marketing campaign, including television advertisements, that will begin in September.
And it is planned to “refresh” the newspaper’s weekend, sports and regional coverage.
Mr Kavanagh said the daily business supplements, launched earlier this year, had been “well received” by readers.
He also indicated that the company would introduce a charge for certain online access in the future.
“We will look to charge for online content in 2013 when our new content management system is in place,” he said.
Mr Kavanagh said this was likely to be a “metered model” that would involve consumers paying for “specialist niche content” while “generic news will remain free”.
Commenting on current trading, Mr Kavanagh said: “The early part of 2012 has been particularly difficult. There is a continuing weakness in both newspaper sales and in advertising revenues.”
He said digital revenues were showing significant growth this year, up about 30 per cent, albeit from a low base.
Mr Kavanagh said group revenues this year were down about 5 per cent but costs were 6 per cent lower.
“So we are ahead of last year’s performance,” he added. “And the signs are good for a busy final quarter to the year. The important thing for us over the next six to nine months is to deliver on the projects that we have set out.”
He said the continued weakness in the domestic economy was weighing on all media groups in the market.
Mr Kavanagh said international sales of The Irish Times – primarily in Britain, Portugal and Spain – remained “steady” at just over 4,000 copies, while home deliveries and sales of the e-paper were performing strongly.
The company delivers to about 8,000 homes across the week, while e-paper sales have reached 2,280 a day. “These are going very well for us,” he said.