A three-way battle is shaping up for newspaper readers in Oldham after a hyperlocal publisher entered the market alongside two regional giants.
Newsquest launched its new weekly the Oldham Times yesterday and quickly sold out of copies in the town centre, while TM unveiled a new Oldham edition of the Manchester Evening News earlier this week.
But in a surprise move, a third contender entered the market in the shape of the Oldham Reporter, published by Ashton-under-Lyne-based Quest Media and priced at 50p compared to 80p for Newsquest’s Times.
They could yet be joined by a revived Oldham Chronicle, with local radio station Revolution 96.2 in “advanced talks” with administrators KPMG to purchase the brand.
The Chronicle ceased publication on 31 August after 163 years after its parent company, Hirst, Kidde and Rennie, went into administration.
The Reporter, whose launch was first announced on Twitter, has a team of two full time and two part time reporters, plus a sports reporter.
Its initial print run was 5,000, but as with the Oldham Times, newsagents quickly requested more copies after selling out in the first day.
The Tameside Reporter, where legendary editor Sir Harold Evans started his career, and Glossop Chronicle themselves ceased publication in 2012 before being rescued by the New Charter Housing Association, which remains the major shareholder in the business.
A company spokesman said: “Because Ashton and other areas we cover, including Mossley and Saddleworth, sit right next door to Oldham, our areas already have a natural overlap for news, sport and advertising.
“While we know it is a tough economic environment for newspapers, we have forged close media partnerships across our areas with numerous charities and not for profit organisations to successfully promote and highlight the good work they do in our communities.
“We are the media group of choice for organisers of a number of major key events in our area while our campaign earlier this year to support the building of the new Tameside Macmillan Unit at Tameside Hospital helped to raise £7,000 – in just one day!
“We now want – and believe we can – bring all of that to the communities of Oldham.”
Editor Nigel Skinner added: “When everyone says the future for news is all online, the irony of a battle for newspaper readers in Oldham between three titles won’t be lost on anyone.
“But the reality is there is a market for local community newspapers like ours concentrating on providing good quality news at a grass roots level – and it’s something local businesses really want too.
“With the sad demise of the Oldham Chronicle, a number of businesses came to us to explore how we might assist. As we also provide and broadcast all the news for Tameside Radio which has a wide reach – including across Oldham – this was always a natural move for us.
“Ultimately we will aim to bring our own brand of local news to the area to serve the communities of Oldham in exactly the same way as we do in Tameside and Glossop.”