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It has a daily circulation of around 200,000 (2002), the lowest of any daily British newspaper. The readership is predominantly southern, based in and around London.
The Independent is the youngest British broadsheet still in existence, first published in October 1986. It was produced by Newspaper Publishing Ltd. and was the creation of Andreas Whittam Smith[?], Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds. All three were former journalists at the Daily Telegraph who had fled the regime of Lord Berry. Marcus Sieff was made the first chairman of Newspaper Publishing and Smith took control of the paper.
The paper was created in a time of considerable tension in British journalism. Rupert Murdoch was challenging long accepted practises and was fighting with the print unions. In this unsettled atmosphere the newly created paper was able to attract very good staff from the Murdoch broadsheets, who chose to jump ship rather than move to Wapping. The Independent also had a rather better relationship with its printers than others, mainly because it had not been around long enough for the relations to sour.
Challenging The Guardian for liberal readers the paper managed to reach a circulation of over 400,000 in 1989. Competing for readers in a moribund market the arrival of The Independent was one of the factors that sparked both a general freshening of newspaper design and content as well as a costly 'price war'. The market was very tight, when The Independent launched an independent Sunday section in 1990 it did very poorly and was soon merged back into the main paper, although Sunday publication did continue.
Into the 1990s it became clear that the parent company, Newspaper Publishing, was suffering, two European media groups had taken small stakes in the company. A number of other media companies were interested in taking fuller control of the ailing paper for a number of reasons. Both Tony O'Reilly's media group and MGN (Mirror) developed substantial stakes in the company by mid-1994. In March 1995 Newspaper Publishing was restructed with a rights issue, spliting the shareholding into O'Reilly (43%), MGN (43%), Prisa (El Pais, 12%). In the same month Smith left the paper. In April 1996 there was another refinancing and in March 1998 O'Reilly bought out the other 54% of the company for £30 million, including assuming the company's debt. Brendan Hopkins headed Independent News while Andrew Marr[?] and Rosie Boycott[?] were made editors of both the broadsheet publications (the other being the Belfast Telegraph).
Boycott left in April 1998 (to the Mirror) and Marr in May 1998 (later to join the BBC as its Political Editor), Simon Kelner was made the new editor. By this time the circulation of the paper had fallen to below 100,000. Independent News spent heavily to improve circulation and the paper underwent a number of redesigns. While circulation improved it did approach the 1989 figures or restore the paper to profitability and the backlash of job cuts and tight controls took their toll on the journalists and morale. Ivan Fallon, on the board since 1995, replaced Hopkins as head of Independent News & Media in July 2002. The paper is currently losing around £5 million a year.