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Coining it - USA [newspaper sales]

Journalists at The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau were surprised in early March to step on to their Connecticut Avenue sidewalk and find that they could now use a credit card to buy their own paper. For years, the second largest US daily – and the most expensive – has been leading an industry push to reposition printed news as a high-value product. Yet the coin-box technology driving North American single-copy sales – often requiring exact change in a single denomination – was not ready for a shift to $2 newspapers.

“It’s an issue to find the coinage,” says Bill Raven, vice president of Oregon-based manufacturer Bellatrix Systems. “Customers were walking away from the machines because they didn’t have four or eight quarters.” Bellatrix designed a new credit-card reader to install on the Impact vending boxes with an encrypted reader. Each reader costs around $200 (installation is extra).

Bellatrix credits its success to the internet, which is often blamed for newspapers’ troubles: Apple made customers and credit-card companies comfortable with small, incremental transactions via iTunes. “This is very much a micro-transaction enabler for every type of product,” says Raven. “You could vend anything.”

Five more titles vended from the Bellatrix box:

01 VG, Oslo
02 d’Wort, Luxembourg
03 New Zealand Herald, Auckland
04 The Dallas Morning News, US
05 Orlando Sentinel, US

Sky’s the limit - Tokyo

A new landmark for Tokyo: construction has started on a 610m television mast in Oshiage, in the low-rise east of the city. From 2012, Tokyo Sky Tree Tower will take over the transmission of terrestrial digital TV from the iconic Tokyo Tower, built in 1958.

Changing scene - Korea [new venue]

Soon to be snuggled under the armpit of Seoul’s 16th-century Gyeonghui Palace is the Prada Transformer, Rem Koolhaas’ multi-disciplinary culture structure. The building will be remoulded monthly to offer a fresh auditorium to accommodate fashion shows, films, art and architecture.
pradatransformer.co.kr

Open to ideas - Italy [publishing]

Italian publisher Corraini takes a creative approach to outsourcing. Each issue of its bi-monthly art pamphlet Un Sedicesimo features a guest editor, usually a name from the graphic design world. From content to colophon, illustrators are given carte blanche – they even get to choose the paper stock.

The magazine (a mere 16 pages) reflects the unconventional spirit of the Mantua art gallery turned bookseller. Launched in 2007, the slender periodical enjoys an eclectic following that includes collectors, school teachers, fans of Federico Maggioni’s edition that recounts Italian history scrapbook style, and creatives keen for the punchy visuals conjured up by promising Russian artist Protey Temen.
corraini.com

Q & A - Chintamani Rao

Chief executive officer of Times Global Broadcasting - India

ET Now will be the India Times Group’s second 24-hour venture, becoming the business brother of the Times Now news channel, which launched in 2006. Using the journalistic resources of The Economic Times and a tie-in with Thomson Reuters, the new station is due to debut in the coming months. However, in a market with nearly 80 round-the-clock news channels, does India need another?

India’s TV marketplace is already a crowded one. Why launch a new channel into such a market?
If you look at the English news space, business news is a great market opportunity. It gets the largest audience. We also have access to India’s most powerful business news brand – The Economic Times – and its resources. We think with all that together, launching ET Now is a no-brainer.

What will be the difference between ET Now and its competition? What’s the slant?
The strength of The Economic Times is its ability to break news – to get the big story, and get it first. ET Now, which is closely integrated with the newspaper, will also aim to be the premier source for breaking business news.

What sort of content will you be airing?
ET Now, as an extension of The Economic Times brand, will play the same role except that it will be on TV. We also have an exclusive tie-up with Thomson Reuters for custom international content – therefore what we air will be relevant to viewers in India.

Will you be utilising any of the paper’s staff or other resources?
We are very closely integrated with the newspaper. All of ET’s 150-odd print reporters have been given basic training in television news, and they appear regularly in the programming that we’re currently test-driving.

With so many television news channels already, how difficult has it been hiring experienced staff?
The proposition we’ve offered potential recruits is compelling: the knowledge, depth and clout of the country’s biggest financial media brand and, incidentally, the number two business newspaper in the world, and the television expertise of the number one English news channel, which has reached that position in just three years. Our top editors have moved from Bloomberg, CNBC, Reuters, NDTV and The Economic Times. We believe we have a dream team on board.

India’s ET Now, the facts:

Launch date: Second quarter of 2009
Total staff: 300
Reporters: 35
Language: English
Broadcast footprint: India
Headquarters: Mumbai; with studio and production facility in New Delhi and bureaux in key cities.

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