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The i: Independent in miniature is floating on giveaways

ABC figures for the ‘i’ look good at first, but 51,000 are bulks

How’s the buoyant, slimline i doing as it nears its first birthday? Pretty well, on the one hand: ABC recorded sales up from 184,000 in September to 222,000 in December. Or not so well, because 51,000 copies of that headline total are giveaway bulks and 6,000 are “lesser rate” sales – which, when you’re only charging 20p at full rate, is a pretty puny cash calf. Actual sales at 20p: 169,000 (ie, not much happening).

And the mothership Independent? Overall statistics – sales of 120,000 against 175,000 last year – look lousy. But that’s mainly because the Lebedevs have almost entirely stopped pumping copies around overseas (23,000 gone there since December 2010) and also scrapped 20,000 bulks. The actual reduction in full rate UK and Eire sales over 12 months is just 12,000, which may not be great, but seems a damned sight better than the revamped headline totals would let you suppose.

Bulk-spotters please note that the daily Indy was producing 64,000 bulks a day last year; now, because of the switch to i support, the bulks (on two dailies, not one, of course) have swelled to 95,000. That’s a tidal wave of gash newsprint swilling around, but to what effect? Boosting the advertising take on the daily duo together? It’s difficult, turning pages, to see much of that happening. The sense, rather, is of a pretty inventive idea (for the i) wandering in a web of complexity, while the full Monty edition, though starved of resources, is still force fed on bulks. The star performer in the stable, in fact, is the Independent on Sunday, which sold 67,000 at full rate in December 2010 and 67,000 again last month. That’s a steady performance most of Fleet Street would love – and all the better for keeping things simple.

■ Reality check corner: ABC1 is the advertising category that includes all of the educated, white-collar middle class. It’s the middle – squeezed or unsqueezed – that advertisers want. Three celebrity magazine editors lined up before Lord Justice Leveson last week. The editor of OK! has 1.05 million ABC1 readers, as measured by the National Readership Survey; the editor of Hello! has 901,000; the editor of Heat has 828,000. That’s heading for 3 million, even before you start counting Closer and New and so many more.

I can’t quite work out how many of the earnest silks and flunkeys in Leveson’s courtroom are devotees of the mags that make his lordship frown. But they’re there; trust me, they’re there.

■ Maybe it’s because I’m a Midlander that I feel an unexpected solidarity with the staff at BBC Birmingham who went on strike last week over plans to move Countryfile, Coast, the Hairy Bikers and sundry shows to Bristol, while pushing some radio fixtures up the line to Salford. There’s HMG investing billions in a high speed rail link to blighted Brum, only to find that, once you’ve nodded to Doctors and The Archers, there’s nothing left worth buying a ticket to inspect. Is this what Delivering Quality First means?

Actually, Gisela Stuart MP put that question to Chris Patten the other day. The Birmingham moves are “outside the remit” of DQF, the Trust chairman replied – just as Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state, was telling another MP to take up such concerns with … yes, the BBC Trust. And Salford will get another 1,000 jobs, it seems, while second city UK gets only mulberry bushes. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds