Regional newspapers on a cliff edge, report warns

It said regional newspaper publishers reported “steep” downturns in advertising revenue in the early weeks of 2008 and concludes that this could be the year of no return for regionals.

The report also said if this trend continues throughout the year, print advertising could drop by around 9%, £250m, to £2.5bn.

Publishers interviewed for the report point predominantly to the current economic downturn as the reasons for the drop in advertising revenue.

However, the report paints a much gloomier picture of the situation. It said: “The drift to online makes it unlikely that much of this spend will ever return to regionals when the market is more buoyant.”

There is some glimmer of hope for newspaper publishers though, with regional newspaper websites increasing revenues through advertising rapidly.

However, the report also claimed the share of regionals in online classifieds is much lower than offline because of specialist websites for areas including property, recruitment and vehicles – which it claimed were more effective advertising tools.

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