Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has defended the company’s current strategy of increasing cover prices as part of the relaunches of its paid-for titles.
A further 44 JP titles are relaunching this month following the initial 23 in May which saw five daily titles switch to weekly publication.
Many of the titles being relaunched will also be getting cover price rises with some going up by more than 25pc.
However in an interview with BBC Radio, Ashley defended the strategy saying the intention was to encourage people to take out subscriptions covering both print and online for less than they pay for the paper.
He said: “We’re looking at making our newspapers a better proposition by investing in them and being able to put the cover prices up.
“That’s not something that our readers are going to rejoice about but they do understand that the papers need to be charged at a price that’s value for money.
“I think the future for our business is to drive subscription levels. So if you take something like the Boston Standard, where we’re putting the price up, we’re actually holding the subscription level down at 37p, which is considerably lower than the price before we even put the price up.
“What we’re trying to do is move people to a subscription where they’ll get the paper, the iPad app, the website, everything in one bundle for considerably less than the cover price of the paper.”
The Boston Standard currently costs 50p. It is one of six titles in Linconlnshire, one in Suffolk and two in Hampshire which are relaunching this week.
In the interview, Ashley also challenged the perception of inexorable decline in the regional newspaper industry as “wrong.”
“On average, the decline is around 4 or 5pc and that’s prior to the relaunch. I think that if we start to invest in our newspapers then we can actually, if not completely halt that decline, certainly get it to a place where it’s manageable.
“If we do have a paper that sells 30,000 and it only declines by 5 per cent then next year it will be doing 28,500, the year after that 27,000. We’ve probably got 30 years at that rate before a paper become unprofitable.”