In the same week that the latest ABC figures showed a continued overall decline in newspaper sales, Media24 announced that it was closing down one of its newest ventures. The five-month-old Scoop!, an English language ‘red top’ Sunday paper sold in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, printed its last edition on February 19.
Minette Ferreira, general manager of Daily Sun/Sunday Sun/City Press, said Media24 had “monitored progress on the product very closely and it became clear from the disappointing sales performance that the product was not viable”.
“Media24 Newspapers is an entrepreneurial division. We explore new markets as and when they occur to us and launch new products on the strength of the viability of the markets. Sometimes our products fail (Nova and Scoop) and in other instances, they become a roaring success (Daily Sun and Son),” said Ferreira.
“The risk of failure is ever-present with new ventures. However, we will continue to explore the changing market place and seek growth opportunities for existing and new news products.”
She said Scoop’s circulation was below the budgeted 20 000 and that it had never been part of the strategy to “chase subscriptions”. Nevertheless, the paper “was listed with the ABC and would have declared their first figures for quarter one of 2012”.
“There was a positive response to the product and advertisers were willing to test the waters with us,” she said of its advertising appeal. “All the advertisers that were willing to support us since launch will be reimbursed in full over the next few weeks.”
But it did not generate the expected interest within its target market. “Scoop was aimed at young, white English readers in the Sunday market. The product simply failed to attract sufficient numbers of the targeted readers in its five months of existence,” Ferreira said.
Editor Peet Bothma said it was “a sad day when a newspaper dies, because it means that a channel of information to the public is closed down”.
Scoop employed 13 full time staff members, including editorial and advertising staff. “Media24 will endeavour where possible to find placements for the affected staff members within the business,” said Ferreira.
CEO of Media24 Newspapers, Fergus Sampson, said it was “unfortunate that the paper did not succeed in gaining a foothold in the market”. He said that markets and people change continually. “We’ll be alert to these developments at all times. And when an opportunity presents itself again, we’ll certainly not recoil.”