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Media / Talk of the Trade: Regional rally

Aggressive promotion has helped the regional press to withstand the worst effects of the national newspaper price war, but the threat to their future has by no means passed.

Circulation figures for the first half of the year show a fall in 87 out of 103 titles, and last month the National Readership Survey recorded a 7 per cent year-on-year decline in the readership of regional dailies.

Price-cutting adds a further burden to a sector in continuing decline. All this helps to explain why next weekend's annual conference of the Guild of Editors promises to be a sombre affair.

The Newspaper Society, which represents regional and local publishers, says nine out of 10 adults read a regional newspaper, compared with the six out of 10 who read national titles. On average, nearly a third of those who read regional papers buy no other daily. In parts of Scotland, that proportion climbs to a half.

The society has now commissioned two pieces of research to assess the effect of the price cuts. Roger Holland, the society's head of marketing, says: 'So far we are finding very little impact.'