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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 06:19 GMT
Times introduces tabloid edition
Rupert Murdoch is glad The Independent published first
A tabloid edition of The Times is on sale on Wednesday, for the first time in the newspaper's 218 year history.

The new version is being sold in London alongside the traditional broadsheet.

It follows the success of a similar move by The Independent, which has seen its sales increase since launching a smaller version two months ago.

All the broadsheets now publish smaller feature sections and the Guardian and Daily Telegraph have privately tested the tabloid size for their main papers.

Shared values

The Independent's decision to launch a tabloid version was an experiment watched closely by its broadsheet rivals.

It is thought the smaller papers could become popular with many people, including commuters on trains.

The Times said the "compact" edition would be "very, very different to the average tabloid", as it will share the values and the content of the original.

Its owner, Rupert Murdoch, said he could not have produced a tabloid version of the paper without the Independent having gone first.

He said: "If I had done it (first) I'd have been ridiculed for debasing the Times."

Advertising slogan

The Independent enjoyed a 20,000 increase in circulation when it became the world's first paper to publish in two sizes.

The chief executive of Independent news and media UK, Ivan Fallon said the Times has followed its lead, even down to copying its advertising slogan.

The Independent plans to roll-out its tabloid across the UK, but the Times said it had no intention to follow suit at present.

Heavy investment is needed to publish and distribute two versions of the same newspaper.

The Telegraph may be inhibited by the financial difficulties of its proprietor Lord Black, according to BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas.

Much will depend on whether the shrinking Times, like the Independent, can enlarge its circulation, he said.

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