Belfast Telegraph launches morning tabloid

The Belfast Telegraph will launch a morning tabloid edition of the newspaper next week, increasing speculation that the title will eventually abandon its broadsheet format altogether.

The compact version of the Independent News and Media-owned title will be available to readers until lunchtime, when the existing broadsheet version kicks in for the rest of the day.

The paper’s commercial department briefed media buying agencies in the province earlier this week, just days ahead of the launch.

Supplements across all editions of the paper – including Business (Monday), Public Sector Jobfinder (Tuesday) and Homefinder (Thursday) - will also be switched to a tabloid format from next week, with the exception of Friday’s JobFinder section, which will remain a broadsheet.

The move follows the paper’s switch to a tabloid-only format for its Saturday edition just a month ago and ends months of speculation that bosses are considering following their London-based INM counterparts.

The already burgeoning Northern Ireland market is still coming to terms with the launch of the Local Press-owned Daily View , expected in April, and the re-launch of a compact-only Irish News.

INM’s success story - beginning with The Independent in the UK in the summer of 2003 – has now been rolled out across a number of its leading titles within the portfolio.

The UK paper was eventually fully compact by May last year, following a concentrated phasing out programme of the broadsheet edition as sales of the compact rocketed, firstly for the Saturday edition and finally for the Monday to Friday paper.

Sales at the Monday to Friday edition of the Belfast Telegraph decreased by 8.3% year-on-year to 94,540 copies per issue in the latest figures for July to December 2004 from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Saturday edition of the paper sells around 76,000 copies per issue.

By Kevin May

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