By: Lucia Moses

Commuter Tabloid Enters Tough Market

The advertising climate is lousy, the market crowded, and the
transit system unreceptive, but Metro International is pushing
forward with its plan to take on Boston. The European transit-
paper publisher is set to launch its second U.S. paper Thursday.
Unlike most Metro papers, which circulate among commuters
in city transit systems, Boston’s will be distributed through
hawkers and boxes after state transit officials refused a
Metro deal.

The Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., will print the paper, with
an initial net distribution of 175,000 planned. Like its
siblings, Boston’s Metro will be a free, daily tabloid
aimed at commuters looking for a quick read.

Metro International, with 18 papers in 14 countries, positions
each as a paper with a high readership among the 18-to-34-year-
old set highly coveted by advertisers. In Philadelphia, where
Metro made its U.S. debut in January of last year, the
Philadelphia Daily News conceded that Metro skimmed
off some of its circulation.

Still, despite its powerful corporate parent, Metro will
find a tough ad environment in Boston, as evidenced by the fact
that the New York Times Co.’s New England Newspaper Group, led by
The Boston Globe, reported an 8.4% decline in ad spending
in the first quarter. “We have a very competitive market here,
with the two competing dailies [the Globe and the
Boston Herald] and all of us out here in the suburbs,”
said James F. Plugh, publisher of The Patriot Ledger in
Quincy and The Enterprise in Brockton. “I’m not sure it’s
the right market for it.”

Making it happen is the job for Russel Pergament, a former
community newspaper owner who was tapped to run the new paper.
By steering clear of Boston’s transit system, Metro will
avoid the problem it had in Philadelphia. That city’s established
dailies sued Metro’s exclusive distribution deal with the
transit system. The suit is pending.

Lucia Moses (lmoses@editorandpublisher.com) is an associate editor covering business for E&P.

Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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