Media Medium
29 September 2000


Is time running out for the Express?

The Express may have taken the bull by the horns, but the future
of the Taurean newspaper may not be Rosie.

The Express has been on a downward slope since its 1964 sales of four million, and its current low of just over one million puts it on the edge of this key psychological barrier for advertisers. As a Taurus (April 24 1900) with a principled Aquarian Moon suiting its pro-Labour inclinations, the Express has tremendous holding power, but with an older readership, its base is steadily contracting.

Clive Hollick, CEO at United Media, is also a Taurus (May 20 1945) and with his Mercury on the paper's sun, this investment means a lot to him. Cash is always a big issue for Taurus, but Hollick has held back from giving the Express the big investment it needs and it's not hard to see how it has got bogged down through this stick-in-the-mud sign.

Rosie Boycott, another Taurean (May 13 1951), fits in with the Express and Hollick, but with her fiery Jupiter on its Mercury she has begun to stir the dormant fire in the belly of the old beast, attracting a younger readership with more AB readers. Yet despite the best efforts of her and her staff, bigger financial considerations and the spirit of a new age are outrunning slow Taurus. The current Jupiter-Pluto opposition is shaking up the media and publishing signs of Gemini and Sagittarius and the Express is yet another enterprise marked by this axis. It has been raked by a vicious and undermining Pluto transit since early last year, with no light at the end of the tunnel until late 2002.

It looks from the astrology as if Hollick and the United shareholders won't wait that long, or come up with the cash that is needed to see it through, and we are probably coming to journey's end for the current team. Late October and early November is a catalyst period which could see a foreign buyer with big pockets and big ideas for innovation and a multi- platform strategy. The overseas Jupiter connection in its horoscope has always been good for it - think back to Beaverbrook. With the right backer, the future for the Express is better than it seems, although it may not look Rosie.

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