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Times tabloid pushes up sales by as much as 50,000

LONDON – The launch of the Times tabloid edition has proved a winning strategy for News International, as early figures indicate that sales have increased by as many as 50,000 copies a day.

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The compact version of the paper went on sale inside the M25, aping the strategy of rival The Independent, which first launched in this area at the end of September, targeting London commuters.

The Independent's circulation rose 7.74% during October to 235,491 as a result of the change and it has now been rolled out in the North and South of England.

The Times is understood to have added around 50,000 sales a day to its circulation in the 10 days since launch. However, agency sources suggest that figures at this stage are speculative and are at best "slightly dubious and at worst intentionally misleading".

Early figures can also be unrealistic because there is initial curiosity and may be lower once the novelty has warn off.

"It should also be borne in mind that initial figures for any new

launch/revamp are inevitably inflated by both advertising support and

initial curiosity. This is exactly why the published ABC figures are

monthly and six monthly averages," the agency source said.

With the launch of the compact Independent, the publisher cornered a market of train users who like to read a paper on the way to work but find the broadsheets too cumbersome and awkward.

However, if all the other broadsheets launch tabloid versions, the Independent will lose its advantage and could find itself back to square one.

The industry will be closely watching to see if its strategy of trying to get the paper into the hands of people who don't usually read it has worked.

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