Monday, January 08, 2007

倫敦免費報棄地鐵

禤中怡早前到倫敦公幹,霧都英倫下美景仍然如十年前一樣,巴士雖然改了新型號,但鮮紅色的Color Icon依然耀眼。在倫敦看新聞時,發現了一件在當地不大不小的新聞,卻可能影響着世界報紙傳媒的長遠發展。香港三份免費報鬥得難分難解,《都市日報》有市區地鐵地利,《頭條日報》同《am730》專門捕捉早上乘東鐵由近郊(Suburb)如沙田等中產區到核心商業區(CBD)的返工一族,其中《am730》獨家佔據馬鐵同西鐵兩處新興中產地盤。當大家都以為在鐵路系統內派發係早上免費報成功的必殺技時,禤中怡發現,這或是美麗的誤會,三份免費報也有可能打錯算盤,向鐵路系統pay cash換取派報權,在歐洲已經不合時宜(雖然我在《am730》寫專欄,但也要說出自己相信的。)

倫敦的免費報市場最近卻反其道而行,倫敦地鐵搞了18個月的下午免費晚報招標最後竟然難產,批不出合約,官方理由是入標報業集團給予的分紅條件過低,令倫敦地鐵認為無利可圖而作罷。
查實倫敦早上的倫敦地鐵報(London Metro)並非專出免費報的瑞典Metro International(MI)的產品,而是出版《每日郵報》(Daily Mail)及《旗幟晚報》(Evening Standard)的英國聯合報業集團(Associated Newspapers)在1999年為對抗MI入侵英國市場,而先下手為強與倫敦地鐵簽下10年獨家派發合約的產物。不過,當年一紙長約竟包括全日的地鐵派報權,變相不准其他免費日報晚報進駐地鐵,從而保護《旗幟晚報》的收費報市場。

報業大亨梅鐸旗下的新聞集團03年便向倫敦公平交易辦公室(Office of Fair Trading)投訴倫敦地鐵報壟斷,由於這類牽涉傳媒的調查千絲萬縷,令下午免費地鐵報的招標足足搞了18個月,期間梅鐸已失去耐性,06年11月出版了主打年輕上班族的免費晚報《thelondonpaper》,聯合報業集團也不甘示弱同期出版《London Lite》抗衡,每天各派約40萬份。

一開始時,倫敦兩份免費晚報便索性以地鐵站出口派發為主,豈知養成習慣後反而不太在意地鐵站內的派發權。此亦反映當地兩大報業集團計過條數後,認為在站口以人手派發比站內放報架更具效益,亦更能接觸到免費報的目標讀者,故均不肯出高價入標,令倫敦地鐵的如意算盤打不響。兩份免費晚報竟拒絕進駐地鐵,令人重新評估地鐵站內的派報權價值,加上當地另一份以金融區為主的免費早報《City A.M.》也是以站口人手派發為主,故地鐵運輸系統派發權過去被視為有價值的觀念可能會大打折扣了。

倫敦馬莎平過香港
在倫敦朝8晚6的公務外,我還有少許時間買點地道東西,除了逛上出名的名牌Harrods Department Store百貨公司外,老牌的M&S(即馬莎百貨)也是心頭好之一(事關Harrods的名牌太貴了,我還是捨不得在英鎊高企的情況下購買這些名牌貨,相對上M&S的價錢還可以)。入到M&S,禤中怡發覺一個價格小秘密,一直以來,我也對M&S的一款甚具學院味的西裝外褸(好像叫做Travel Blazer)有一點情意結,這款深藍色配以金鈕的(過去曾經出過銀鈕)外套,款式雖然有點薯,但勝在可配上不同顏色的西褲,最啱出差時不想多帶一兩件外套的懶人如我,故已成為我公幹的一部分。

據我印象記憶,香港馬莎過去賣1,400元,近年加價至1,600元,並不便宜。(可是剛剛在無綫《財經透視》看見龐寶林說買西裝動輒過萬元,禤中怡雖然同樣人在中環,但明顯不及龐兄的豪氣)在倫敦M&S卻發現,同款外套,只賣89英鎊(即港幣1,337.9元),比較香港馬莎平一成六,又一次證明物離鄉貴的道理,禤中怡亦自自然然買下心頭好吧。

(1月8日刊於《am730》)

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