Here is the news from BBC Scotland: “Papers sold below full price are deemed less valuable to the industry, not only because of the lack of cover price revenue but also because advertisers do not see giveaways as reaching people with as great a commitment to read articles and see adverts.”
And of course if it’s on the BBC it must be true, mustn’t it? But, as anyone who has ever had anything to do with newspaper or magazine subscriptions knows, the above claim is nonsense.
It is even a sweeping statement when it comes to bulk sale giveaway copies are concerned, given how many people read papers from cover to cover on trains and flights will testify, yet BBC Scotland saw fit to state this as absolute fact in a story about national newspaper sales at the end of last week.
The truth is that subscription sales reward regular readers with long-term deals which save them money. Far from being people with less commitment, subscribers are amongst the most loyal, to the extent that newspaper managements are often wary of overly-generous subscription offers in case regular readers switch to the new deal in what is known as “cannibalisation”.
And in bundling in digital access for mobile devises, those newspaper companies with paywalls are only trying to compete with free-access news sites, which of course includes the BBC news app
The irony here is that the statement came not from a broadcast but a lengthy (and uncredited) analysis on the BBC website, a site on which every day the BBC seeks to emulate newspapers by publishing stories for which it has no time on radio or television.
Funded by the licence fee, it is seemingly not enough for BBC Scotland to compete directly with newspaper websites, but it must also abuse its privileged position to deliberately undermine an industry which supports some 4,300 jobs across Scotland.
The SNS has repeatedly raised the BBC’s attitude towards the newspaper industry with senior management, seemingly to no avail. It may be true that the challenges faced by newspaper publishers are not the fault of the BBC, but the Corporation does little to help.
At risk of further undermining our industry, but in the spirit of journalistic co-operation, the BBC story can be read here.