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London Times goes strictly tabloid

The Times launched its tabloid edition in November 2003.
Rupert Murdoch
Times of London

LONDON, England (CNN) -- After more than two centuries as a broadsheet newspaper, The Times of London has gone strictly tabloid.

On Monday, The Times moved to a totally compact format after almost a year of dual publication.

The decision follows a similar decision by another UK newspaper, The Independent, which stopped printing a broadsheet edition in May in favor of a tabloid format.

"This is a significant moment in the 216 year history of The Times," the newspaper's editor, Robert Thomson, said in announcing the change Friday.

"The launch of the compact has transformed the fortunes of the paper and made The Times even more influential as Britain's journal of record."

The move comes as the latest circulation figures show The Times -- owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International -- posted a third consecutive year-on-year increase.

The Times said its circulation rose by 14,536 copies, up 2.28 percent on the year, giving it a total of 652,264 copies. Full price sales were up more than 3 percent in the same period.

Sales of the compact edition has reached 300,000, representing 46 percent of the newspaper's total sales.

One of the major factors in the all-tabloid format was the cost of producing two separate versions of the same newspaper -- estimated to be about £15 million ($26 million) a year.

The decision by both The Independent and The Times to go wholly compact could put pressure on The Guardian, which has been losing out in sales over the past year, to follow suit.

The Guardian Media Group has decided to go a "midi" size -- halfway between a broadsheet and a tabloid -- based on the format of continental European papers.

Presses of that size do not exist in the UK, so the Guardian will have to wait for new presses to be manufactured and installed.

However, the move to go to a tabloid format could risk alienating some of The Times' more traditionalist readers.

As one reader commented in a letter to the editor: "As one who has been published over a hundred times on your letters page, I feel sad at a change which robs The Times of its civilised spaciousness."

The Times' sister paper, The Sunday Times, will retain its broadsheet format.

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