FT plans Asian edition as website breaks even

FT.com: on target to break even in the fourth quarter

FT.com will break even by the end of the year, an Asian edition for the newspaper is on the cards for 2003 and there will be changes to the UK edition.

Editor Andrew Gowers is marking the end of his first year in the chair with some good news in the face of the recession.

In June, part of FT.com became subscription-based and there are now well over 20,000 subscribers. "We are on target to break even with FT.com in the fourth quarter," he said. "We have refined the way we use the newspaper and the dot.com complementarily and we created a completely integrated operation here as of the last few weeks. The news editor and his colleagues are now responsible for what happens in news online and in print.

"The newspaper is infinitely richer for being accompanied by this infinite medium."

The FT’s bureaux around the world file equally for the website and the newspaper as they will do for the planned Asia edition.

Deputy editor John Ridding is completing a study with the commercial department, which has shown that huge investment will not be necessary for its launch.

"In essence, we already have an Asian edition," explained Gowers. "We can tailor that with a relatively modest investment, establishing some kind of news-editing capacity, so that it is an edition that is as relevant as it could be to Asian readers.

"We print in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Malaysia. We have 13 excellent staff correspondents there already plus super-stringers and stringers. We are preparing ourselves rigorously to take the story on to Asia and I’m requesting backing from Pearson [the FT’s owner] to do that."

He intends to extend the bridgehead the paper has made in the US and invest in the UK edition and start the Asia edition simultaneously.

By Jean Morgan

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