Free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant, who this week voiced an interest in buying Trinity Mirror’s Midlands operation, said one of the best options for the Birmingham Mail would be to adopt a part-paid, part-free strategy.
Bullivant told Press Gazette: “There are various options for the Birmingham Mail. It could go partly free or could be supported by free papers.
“Journalists don’t like it said, but with 80 per cent of revenue coming from advertising you have to secure this.
“The Mail now has a 70,000 circulation compared to 400,000 when I worked for it in the Sixties. The Mail is losing the ability to get advertiser value.
“You have to support the main paper with a mass free paper with around a 300,000 distribution or to have one or two editions of the main product free.
“I don’t like the model in Manchester; I think it will lead to the paper becoming completely free which maybe the way to go, but it is only a stop-gap measure in my opinion.” Bullivant criticised Trinity’s decision last year to begin printing the Coventry Evening Telegraph overnight, so that it has effectively become a morning paper — a trend sweeping the regional press.
“The only hope for an evening paper over the national mornings is to be able to publish stories that happened during the day,” he said. “The first printed words for 9/11 would have been in those [evening] newspapers.” In December last year, on top of its title in the Midlands, Trinity announced it was selling its London regional newspapers as well as the Racing Post.
Trinity is looking to sell off the separate divisions for £200 million each and the Midlands operation is expected to make £14 million this year.
Former head of CBI Sir Digby Jones is also considering a bid. Interested parties are due to be sent a memorandum detailing financial information by the end of the month.