Trendspotting #13

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l Jobless youths hit paper sales

Media consumption by youth has alarming consequences for newspapers. In 1974, on an average day 81 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds looked at a national newspaper, according to research by media buying agency Optimedia. By 1996 this figure had slumped dramatically to just 54 per cent of that age group. Optimedia believes the fall in the number of people in this age group in full-time work has affected the sale of newspapers, as buying a daily paper is part of the routine of having a job. So all those Tory newspapers - convinced for the past 18 years that unemployment was a price worth paying - may now end up paying some of that price themselves.

l TV for sap-happy teens

Children today can't sit still for a minute and just stare at the TV screen like we used to. Instead they zap with an alarming frequency. Sixty- one per cent of 10- to 15-year-olds say they switch channels "very often" compared with just 23 per cent of the over-sixties. Worse still, 8 per cent say they have perfected the technique of watching two programmes at the same time. It is this zap-happy generation that the interactive TV services, announced last week, are truly planned for. Most worrying for commercial television is the finding by the Henley Centre that 75 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 use their remote control not just to look for other programmes but to edit out advertising.

l Classifieds succeed without pretty pictures

It is easy to forget the importance of the humble classified ad with all of the creative work and associated glamour that goes into branded display advertising. In fact, classified advertising has been forging ahead of display ever since the recession ended and employment ads reappeared. In 1994, classified advertising grew by 16 per cent year on year, and in 1995 it grew by 12 per cent. The latest figures from city analysts Panmure Gordon indicate that growth in 1996 will be 16 per cent. Compare that with just 0.7 per cent growth in display advertising in newspapers last year and you realise there is a lot more to advertising than clever slogans and pretty pictures.

l Sport - it's not just a game

Ever since Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB started buying the TV rights to every sport available and saw his subscription income go stratospheric it has been obvious that sport is the driving force behind pay-TV. What is less evident is the continuing importance of sport to national newspapers. Over the last year, almost every national has started producing their own special sport supplements while at the same time increasing the pages of their daily sport sections. This means that a quarter of all newspaper coverage is now devoted to sport. This compares with just 10 per cent of space devoted to politics, 7 per cent to crime and 5 per cent to entertainment and the arts. Sport is now the unchallenged driver of the media's content. They are not just games.

l Glad to watch gay TV

Following the "outing" of the US sitcom character Ellen last week, it is worth reminding the UK's broadcasters how truly acceptable gay and lesbian issues are to viewers. According to the latest ITC report, less than 4 per cent of the population found anything offensive about the screening of gay and lesbian subjects on TV last year. However, just because viewers don't find Ellen offensive, it doesn't necessarily mean they are any more likely to find her funny.

Paul McCann