Background to the UK Regional Press

The UK regional newspaper pioneers began publishing in the first decade of the eighteenth century; by 1800 there were about 100 titles, all weekly; by 1900 there were about 1300 weeklies, 70 morning papers and 100 evening papers. This was the high-point of the regional press in terms of titles published, but readership continued to increase in the first half of the twentieth century to its peak in the 1950s, when there were approximately 25 morning papers, 75 evenings and 1200 weeklies, selling a total of 22.5 million copies per issue (Royal Commission 1947, Hobbs 2012).

Though there has always been some churn, the total number of newspaper remained relatively stable at around 1300 in total until 2007, which was also the year that:

  •  telecoms watchdog Ofcom  announced that half of UK households had access to broadband and that effective competition was driving up speeds
  • the UK start feeling the affects of  what was to become known as the Global Financial Crisis, which is thought to have been triggered by the US  housing crisis of 2006.
  • Apple launches the iPhone (released in June 2007 in the US, November in the UK),  the pioneer of what is to become known as  smartphones.

The following year, leading industry analyst Clare Enders pointed out that 10-15 regional and local newspaper titles were closing each week and predicted that a third of all UK regional newspapers would have folded by 2013 (Oliver 2008).

As 2012 draws to an end, her predictions may appear to have been overly pessimistic.  More than 240 titles have shut and 70 new titles have  been launched over the past five year (Oakley 2012).

As such, in  2012 there are 79 daily regional titles and 1,083 weeklies (Newspaper Society 2012; the distinction between morning and evening titles has disappeared as most evening titles have switched to overnight printing to save costs);. Though the total decline has been around 15 per cent, dailies have been most affected with the total number dropping by 20 per cent as titles, such as the Liverpool Daily Post and Birmingham Post, move to weekly publishing.  This is a trend that many see continuing (Oakley 2012, Highfield 2012).

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