Keep in touch with friends, expats and countrymen

Expats always hunger for news from home. South Africans and New Zealanders can read it in the pub.
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For South Africans and New Zealanders living in London, there is no need to turn to the English broadsheets or the internet for news from home. For everything from sports results to political appointments to cartoon strips, all they have to do is scoop up a copy of their country's expatriate newspaper at the local tube station.

The South Africa Times UK and the New Zealand News UK hit the streets every Wednesday providing expatriates with the main stories of the week, selected from The Sunday Times and Business Day newspapers in South Africa through a contract with Times Media Limited, and the New Zealand Press Association.

"It is a fascinating proposition to try to produce newspapers for the expatriate communities in the UK as they tend to fall into a number of fairly distinctive categories," said Malcolm Harris, the managing director of Commonwealth Publishing, which owns both publications.

The categories include the hundreds of thousands of commonwealth country residents entering the UK every year on either a two-year work permit or a four-year ancestral visa, as well as holiday- makers and expatriates who want to keep up with the news at home.

The New Zealand News UK has been around since 1927, but the South Africa Times UK is a comparatively infant publication with an interesting history. The first issue of the SA Times hit the streets in September 1992 after a couple of entrepreneurial South Africans got together and set up a paper for their countrymen.

Adam Teeger, a banking lawyer from Johannesburg who has lived in London for 13 years, was working in a firm that was filled with Australians and New Zealanders when he realised that unlike them, South Africans didn't have an expatriate publication of their own. Together with Sara Ettlinger, who was doing her articles in corporate finance, they set up an independent weekly newspaper backed by private venture capitalists and South Africans interested in supporting the project.

Mr Teeger describes the launch in May 1992 as an "opportune moment". Politically opportune, as the first democratic elections were taking place, and sportingly opportune, as South Africa rejoined the international rugby scene.

Three years after its launch, it was incorporated into Independent Newspapers Group and the SA Times became The Star & SA Times with the Johannesburg Star providing the editorial content.

In September 1997, a 60 per cent share of The Star & SA Times was sold to Tweedale Press, a regional publishing group in the north of England. Derek Smail, the chairman and chief executive, moved this share into Tweedale's subsidiary, Commonwealth Publishing. In March of this year, Independent Newspapers left the joint venture and the newspaper was renamed and re-launched as South Africa Times UK.

Apart from typographical and layout changes, the editorial content is driven from London instead of Johannesburg, from a small newsroom filled with two handfuls of sub-editors and reporters - all from South Africa and New Zealand.

The two newspapers are distributed at 170 points outside tube stations, travel agents and popular expatriate hangouts. There are also paid subscription lists and an internet version of the NZ News is available with an SA Times on-line version to come. Between 23,000 and 25,000 copies of each paper are printed and each publication claims 62,500 readers a week.