A weekly newspaper which has put up its cover price by 50pc has faced a backlash from readers on its Facebook page.
The Somerset County Gazette is among the latest Newsquest titles to introduce a hefty cover price rise with an increase from 80p to £1.20, as it launches new content and more news.
But the price increase of 50pc has sparked angry comments from some readers on the paper’s Facebook page, saying they do not believe it is justified and will stop buying it.
The Ledbury Reporter and sister title the Malvern Gazette also put their cover prices up last week, from 65p to 90p – an increase of 38pc – with readers promised at least 16 extra pages in the titles each week.
Editor Alex Cameron said the new-look Somerset County Gazette had gone up in price because “many of the advertising sectors which effectively subsidise quality local journalism are receding and if we want to maintain our high standards, then we must charge a fair price.”
In a piece reproduced on the title’s Facebook page, he wrote: “We’ve listened carefully to what you’ve been telling us through our reader survey and our regular contact with readers and advertisers. You said more good quality local news, sport and leisure information is what you want – so here it is!
“We’ve increased the number of pages in the paper each week so we can bring you more news from where you live, more comprehensive sport coverage, and a bigger what’s on guide to inspire you. We’re also bringing you some fantastic weekly features which you won’t want to be without.”
New content in the title includes a Big Match feature about local sport, an expanded What’s On section, a nostalgia page and a News You Can Use section with essential information like roadworks.
But many readers who commented on the FB page gave the price rise the thumbs down.
James Blackmore commented: “Really disappointed with the Gazette’s 50% price increase, in this climate such a price jump seems crazy.”
Stuart J Rockett wrote: “Sorry, I won’t be buying it any more. Times are hard for everybody at the moment and this just rubbed salt in to people’s wounds.”
And Angi Wright Haines added: “A 50pc increase is ridiculous! I think you have made a very bad decision. Will read online the bits that I want in future.”
Meanwhile, the changes at the Ledbury Reporter and Malvern Gazette are set to provide a minimum of 16 extra pages, including two new pages of school news, two extra sports pages and a new eight-page leisure supplement.
A story about the changes at the Reporter said: “Our price has risen to 90p today. We know that rises of any sort are hard to stomach in tough economic times.
“But it will help us pay for the improvements needed to keep your local newspaper strong, and it still represents excellent value for money for 96 information-packed pages.”
Other Newsquest titles to increase their cover prices in recent months include The Northern Echo, the Lancashire Telegraph and the Bury Times, with the publisher appearing to favour this strategy as a way of recouping lost circulation revenues.