Anxious 'Guardian' chiefs plan early launch of revamped paper

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The Guardian has pencilled in an autumn launch for its new "Berliner" format.

The Guardian has pencilled in an autumn launch for its new "Berliner" format.

Executives at Guardian Media Group are thought to be anxious about the success of compact editions of The Independent and The Times, and want to accelerate the paper's own relaunch, which was originally planned for 2006.

They have been meeting media-buying agencies over the past month to show them dummy editions of the new A3-style newspaper, which is between a broadsheet and tabloid newspaper in size.

Agencies want reassurances that the new format - the first of its kind in the UK - will be attractive to advertisers. "Ber-liner" is a reference to a daily Berlin paper of the same size.

But it is understood that technical issues could prevent an early start. Industry sources have indicated that problems with the new printing presses could push the launch into the second half of 2006.

Media buyers shown the dummies had to sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to disclose details of the new format. But some buyers have told The Independent on Sunday that a typical front page of the new Guardian newspaper would contain three main stories and a main picture.

One media buyer who has seen a dummy said: "It certainly looks different. But I thought they were trying to cram too much on to the page."

Last week, Starcom, a buying agency owned by media conglomerate Publicis, said in its Media Market report last week that Guardian Media Group wants to bring forward the new format's launch to this autumn.

Another media buyer who recently met executives from the newspaper company said they wanted the launch to happen as early as late summer. "It's a case of sooner rather than later for them," he said.

Guardian Media Group is constructing a new print works near Bow in east London. The building is close to completion and sections of the new printing equipment needed for the format are already in place.