MEN cuts free distribution to two days

It is telling that the last blog entry this year concerns a closure, as the Manchester Evening News is limiting free distribution to only two days a week, and therefore is no longer a free daily newspaper.

It is the 33rd paper closing down this year – 22 of those in Europe. In 2008 also 33 titles closed down – but the 2009 score could be more as some paper might not return in the new year. Also there were very few launches this year, which resulted in a substantial drop in circulation, particularly in Europe.

The MEN started distributing a free ‘Lite’ edition in March 2005, with a circulation of only 10,000. After little more than one year, in April 2006, the experiment was ended.

Instead, MEN developed a paid/free model. In the city center, were the paper only sold a few thousand copies, distribution was free while in other areas the paper was paid. Free circulation increased from 50,000 in the first year to 80,000 in 2008. But at the same time, paid circulation dropped much more than expected.

With less advertising revenues because of the recession, MEN limited free distribution in April of this year on Monday to Wednesday, and increasing free distribution on Thursday and Friday to almost 90,000. No free papers were distributed on Saturdays.

From January on, the free distribution on the first three days of the week will be stopped altogether according to PaidContent.

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