Scotsman subscriptions substantially up, says chief executive

THE number of subscribers to The Scotsman has increased substantially over the last 12 months, according to the chief executive of its publishers.

In an interview given to BBC Radio Scotland, Ashley Highfield said the paper now has a “very healthy” subscriber base, partly following the relatively recent launch of a ‘bundled’ print and iPad app subscription package, which has seen subscriptions rise from around six per cent 12 months ago.

Says Highfield, over 25 per cent of Scotsman readers are subscribers, meaning the paper is getting to know its audience more than it was once able to.

Highfield was being interviewed by BBC Scotland business editor, Douglas Fraser, for a programme broadcast at the weekend, and which also includes an interview with Charles McGhee, former editor of the Evening Times and The Herald newspapers.

Highfield – who Fraser reminds listeners has a tech background – said he believed his predominantly print business can be transformed into “a much more integrated print and online business”.

He added that sales of Johnston’s weekly titles have been holding up reasonably well, such as the Falkirk Herald, and that the publisher is engaged in a programme of title relaunches.

Referring to how journalists are being issued with the ‘latest smartphones’, to allow them to provide video content, he said: “I would like us to create mini, ultra-local TV stations for some of the smaller communities that aren’t served and shouldn’t be served by the BBC.”

There was support too for local papers from McGhee, who reiterated comments made last year that he believed ‘city-based daily newspapers’ will be lucky to last for the next five years or so. He draws inspiration from the west of France newspaper, France Ouest, and also from Sweden.