By Ian Quinn
If he had announced his plans a year ago, most people would probably have questioned his sanity.
But whether you love or hate outspoken columnist and Independent founder Stephen Glover, his mooted launch of an upmarket tabloid, which would be the first paid-for tabloid arrival since the ill-fated Today, was being treated seriously this week.
The new title is reported to have recruited some top people, including Emap chairman Adam Broadbent, who is said to be the new company’s chair, and Vicky Unwin, who previously headed up the PR Newswire.
There were, however, differing views among press buyers of the chances of survival for the proposed title – the name of which has not been revealed – in a climate of national circulation decline.
Cynics suggest that even if Glover has the backing of highpowered financiers to fund his £15m launch, he will be crushed by the spending power of players such as Richard Desmond and Associated Newspapers.
Universal McCann press director Dan Pimm thinks Glover doesn’t stand a chance: “I just can’t see it growing the market, and if it cannibalises the market still further, it will be a disaster.”
But others believe his timing might be spot on. With The Guardian announcing last week that it would not be following The Independent and The Times in launching a tabloid version – for now – and with The Daily Telegraph effectively stuck in limbo with its ownership up for grabs, some believe there is a niche for a new upmarket tabloid.
“A year ago, if someone had said he was going to be launching an upmarket tabloid, everyone would have said he’d gone stark raving mad,” said Paul Thomas, press director at Mindshare.
“But look at how things have changed – when you look at what The Independent has done with going compact.
“It all depends on the backing, the marketing and, of course, the quality of the product. But I would very much welcome it.
Anything that increases choice in the market and widens the options for advertisers is a good thing,” Thomas added.
Claudine Collins, press director at MediaCom, also welcomed the idea, but has doubts that Glover will have the clout to compete with the big boys. “My main concern is if it’s a one-man band, he’s going to find it very difficult.”
Despite his part in the launch of The Independent as co-founder and one-time editor, Glover is now renowned for his old-school views in his columns in The Daily Mail and The Spectator.
Thomas noted: “There’s a large tabloid sector up for grabs and it’s called the Telegraph and it’s called the Conservatives. You could see this title picking up sales from both the Telegraph and the Mail.”