Monday, 16 November 2009


The latest ABC newspaper circulation figures have been released and decreases are slowing up, which is good news. Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday continue to be the only papers showing a year-on-year increase. They are up 20% and 3%, which shows that Jordan is still a British treasure. Or, at least, people just like reading about her latest exploits with that cage-fighter chap. But aside from the Star titles, everything is still falling. Worryingly for Guardian Media Group, The Observer is down 19% and The Guardian down 12%. But elsewhere the Telegraph is doing very well on the subscription front, with over 320,000 copies being sent out, and this is providing a solid funding base on which they can better predict their medium-term income.

I am not subscribing to one paper at the moment as I enjoy reading a different one everyday, but I can see this being a key business model as we come out of the recession and people start to get larger disposable incomes. Meanwhile, the London Evening Standard have had a 469% circulation increase, but of course the paper is now free. I doubt it will have too much impact on the nationals as they are all morning papers, and the Standard continues to set the evening agenda with little competition in print now thelondonpaper and London Lite have disappeared.
PICTURE: Taradel

* * *

The government’s plans to give power to the Financial Services Authority for cancelling any pay deals which reward undue risk-taking are a dangerous idea. Former chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland Sir George Mathewson is right that it interferes with contracts “between willing participants”. Bankers are still about as popular as MPs at the moment - just try being a journalist or traffic warden, I tell them - but that is no excuse for such a draconian measure as this. If this is a sign of things to come in the shake-up of the FSA, then I am concerned.

Everyone needs to take the blame for the recession - consumers, producers, bankers and regulators - and telling banks how to pay their staff is not the best way out of this. If a banker takes a big risk and makes a big profit then he should be rewarded for it. The decisions of stockbrokers can make millions of pounds for corporations quite easily, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with them getting a share of this profit. Banks need to work with the FSA to ensure they don’t come up with any more ideas like this.

* * *

Regular readers of my blog will know that I think the train fares system in this country needs a big shake-up. It’s too expensive and too difficult to find the cheapest ticket. Today, the two main lines going through Sheffield - East Midlands and Crosscountry - announced increases of around 2 per cent. But there was good news on the Southend to London lines - National Express East Anglia and c2c - that fares will be frozen or reduced next year.

This is in contrast to some lines around the country where unregulated fares are increasing by up to 16 per cent. But as Peter Slattery, of the Southend Rail Travellers’ Association, pointed out, we should not be surprised by a price freeze, because inflation has fallen. In fact, a reduction would have been nice. But it’s good to know National Express are avoiding last year’s mistake of putting fares up significantly. Everyone can do with the extra change at the moment.
PICTURE: The London Daily

* * *

The weather can always make for an interesting game of football. Arguably the best moment of the season so far happened at Gigg Lane on Saturday when Danny Nardiello's shot for Bury beat Notts County goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel but stuck on the goal-line as it was so wet and muddy. Schmeichel raced back to his line and picked up the ball from the puddle with the grin of a Cheshire cat. The video is well worth a watch on BBC Sport:

It reminded me of when Southend played Barnsley in The FA Cup third-round almost three years ago. The game had started off normally, but by the second-half it was getting ridiculously wet. However as Southend were 1-0 up, all of the home fans wanted the game to carry on. I don’t think Barnsley fans particularly wanted to come back to Essex again for another try either. The ball was splashing about, managers were checking which players had taken their Pool Frog 2 swimming badge and it was very funny indeed. But in the last minute, a free-kick bounced into the Shrimpers area and was handballed into the net by a Tyke. Replay on a Tuesday night in Yorkshire. Oh dear. At least we won the second game 2-0!
PICTURE: Sky Sports