Television

Times goes tabloid; drops broadsheet edition

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MUMBAI: You are never too old to change. That could be the latest anthem of 216 year old Times.



The Times will become a tabloid-only publication starting on Monday, 1 November. The decision comes about 11 months after the British national daily, owned by a unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, launched a tabloid version for commuters to help it reverse a downturn in circulation.



Although the senior bosses at The Times remained tight-lipped, the news that Times has abandoned the broadsheet edition leaked out after a major marketing campaign to promote the changes had been hastily arranged for the weekend, alongside ads being booked in the trade press, say media reports.



UK newspapers that have switched to the smaller format have bucked the trend of declining newspaper circulation. 



Coincidentally, the move comes six months after The Independent ended its own dual format experiment and discarded the broadsheet edition of the paper in favour of a tabloid in September 2003.



According to the reports, recent sales figures for the newspaper - of which only 30 per cent are broadsheets - has seen a modest increase in regions outside the London and South East, such as Wales and Ireland. The news will come as little surprise to the industry, the speed in which the speculation has mounted this week has been swift and secretive. 



Sales of the title have increased by 4.5 per cent year on year to 661,000 copies on a Monday to Saturday.



Eyes will now be on The Times' closest rival in the broadsheet market, The Daily Telegraph. The paper has been silent over any possible move to a compact format since the Barclay Brothers wrestled control of the UK's best selling broadsheet title in the summer from the Hollinger International empire. The Guardian is planning to convert to a midsize Berliner format. 



Over the past decade, The Times more than doubled its circulation after it started a price war in a bid to overtake the Telegraph. Murdoch also owns tabloid heavyweight the Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper. The Times was first published in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register before taking its current name in 1788.

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