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Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

Why i newspaper is to launch first TV advertising campaign in two years following price rise

By Dominic Ponsford

Print newspaper circulations may be in long-term decline across the western world, but i editor Oliver Duff (pictured) believes the UK’s youngest national title can buck the trend.

With this in mind the title is launching its first TV advertising campaign in two years – with slots booked during Channel 4 News and Mr Selfridge on ITV.

Duff says his faith in print stems partly from his correspondence with readers.

He says: “I had one letter from a gentleman aged 85 who had never read a newspaper before.

“One of the reasons I am optimistic is I see new readers coming to us all the time. Readers that are new to newspapers.”

Duff said that TV advertising has worked well for i in the past and that the paper has tended to hang on to the readers gained.

While still loss-making, the financial position of the Independent group is improving, says Duff. From a loss of £23m three years ago the titles lost £5m last year, he says, and “hopefully this year we are going to do better again”.

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Duff says that i has steadily built its editorial team and now regularly commissions its own columns and big features. So as well as taking content from The Independent, articles which originated on i are being shared back the other way.

While accepting that the future of journalism will be digital "at some point", he says: “People still love print, for all the naysayers have been saying over the last 20 years."

The i launched in October 2010 as a cut-price 20p sister title to The Independent, offering a digested version of the main paper. Last month i had its second price rise in the space of a year with its weekday cost going up to 40p. Total sales in February stood at  278,438 (down 7.2 per cent year on year) – of which 62,925 were free bulk copies.

The proceeds of the price rise have, he says, “transformed our prospects as a business”.

Talking about the future prospects for the title, which turns five in October, he says: "We want to take it to the next level and see growth in print and digital.

“There is so much more confidence and optimism here than there was five or ten years ago. “

Duff believes the general election presents a particular opportunity for i because readers value the paper’s political impartiality.

The TV ads have the slogan “Get to the point” and feature non-i readers struggling to offer a definitive viewpoint when questioned on current affairs.


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