Low circulation forces Standard to cut newspaper price

Behind the pronouncement that Standard Group has slashed the cover price of its flagship newspaper by 17% in order to give back to its readers, Business Today has learnt that the move has been informed by plummeting circulation which has plunged15-20% in the last two years.

Outgoing Editorial Director Joseph Odindo during a meeting with staff on Wednesday at the Mombasa Road office intimated that the newspaper’s readership has been reducing over the years hence the decision to revise its price from Ksh60 to Ksh50.

He was roping in the staff on the company’s business performance in the recent past.

The media group has branded the price cut as an anniversary give-away but it is an open secret that the Standard newspapers have been recording a decline in circulation, with insiders putting average daily sales at just over 60,000 copies, less than half its rival Nation’s 150,000.

Accompanying the newspaper’s flag today is a notice of the price cut which has run all week. The management says that the move is aimed at giving back to its readers as the company celebrates 100 years in the industry.

“From December 6 grab a copy of The Standard newspaper at Ksh10 less as we say thank you for all you have done for us. As we continue to provide our loyal readers with the quality they deserve, we are giving you your ten back,” reads a notice published in the newspaper.

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The company says it is celebrating 100 years in the media industry, yet it marked 100 years way back in 2002 during which it adopted the slogan 100 Years of Excellence in Journalism. The pomp and glamour behind the celebration could be a tactic to reduce the price without courting scrutiny.

The Standard newspaper is now the cheapest in the mainstream market compared to Ksh60 that its rivals Star and Daily Nation retail at.

Previously, newspapers would increase the price at the same time but that solidarity appears to have been blurred by economic realities of reduced circulation and advertising.

Over the years, Daily Nation has been a market leader boasting of slightly more than 50% of the market share. With Standard desperate to gnaw at this pie, the new price could be a gamble that will take time to pay off given that the slowdown in newspaper circulation is less of an economic issue than a shift in content consumption trends.

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Print media has greatly been a casualty of the rise of digital media. By the time newspapers publish a story, most at times Kenyans will be upto speed, as a result newspapers have had to adapt to this situation by contextualizing stories and give them more depth to neutralize the assault of digital media.

The situation has led to a dip in advertising revenue which all major media houses in the country have decried at some point in the near past. Notably during this period, revenue generated from digital platforms has been on an upward trajectory.

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By Kenyan Digest

The Kenyan Digest Team