Trendspotting #8

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The Independent Online

The Sun's endorsement of Tony Blair and the Labour Party (in that order) should bring the share of newspaper readers with a pro-Labour Party paper up to over 30 per cent for the first time since the 1974 general election. According to ITN's Election Guide, 70 per cent of national newspapers sold backed the Tories at the last election, compared with 27 per cent for Labour. The share of newspaper support by circulation had been declining for Labour since a post-war high of 43 per cent in 1966 (when it won). By 1983, only 22 per cent of papers sold supported Labour, compared with 75 per cent to the Conservatives. At no election has Labour's share of the vote fallen as low as its share of the sales of papers, nor has the Conservative Party's share of the vote ever been as high. Who says newspapers only give their readers what they want?


Barb, the organisation that measures television audiences, is to raise the number of 16- to 24-year-olds and 24- to 34-year-olds on its panels by 5 and 7 per cent respectively, because it has reinterpreted the 1991 census to take account of a large number of twentysomethings who are hidden away still living with their parents. The information will be eagerly seized by advertisers, who have had to spend heavily to be sure of reaching this section of the population.


You'd think that Channel 5's threat to ITV would worry Lord Hollick, chief executive of United News & Media and a shareholder in Channel 5. After all, he owns the ITV broadcasters Meridian and Anglia, nearly 30 per cent of HTV and the operation that sells advertising on behalf of a third of the ITV network. However, remember Channel 5's patchy coverage. Channel 5's coverage of the Meridian ITV region is only 44 per cent, the lowest of any ITV region, and only 66 per cent of Anglia's viewers will be able to receive it, according to Barb. This compares favourably with ITV competitors Granada and Carlton, which both have to compete with over 90 per cent Channel 5 coverage in their regions. As there is nothing a media mogul likes more than the word monopoly, this should keep Hollick happy.


Commercial television companies are like the young women in a Jane Austen novel - they are always looking for rich young men. These young Mr Darcys watch less television than the rest, but they have more money to spend. This is where Sky Sports proves its worth - 42 per cent of its audience is in the prized ABC1 social demographic, while 71 per cent - the highest of any channel - is male. In January, Sky's football programmes delivered 53 per cent of this audience. The question is, would even Mrs Bennet have spent pounds 743m to get her hands on some rich young men?