The Board of The Ringing World tackled a wide ranging agenda at its regular late autumn meeting on 28th November.

At the heart of the discussions was the Board’s continuing commitment to build on the success of recent years, while robustly tackling the challenges presented by the continuing difficult economic environment.

With The Ringing World’s Centenary year only a little over 12 months away, developing plans for this milestone event were discussed in some detail. The Board heard news of work towards a major day of celebrations, including a wide range of ringing, and a number of other high profile special events. This is to be held in London on 26th March 2011, the nearest Saturday to the actual anniversary of the publication of Edition Number One – put the date in your diaries now! The Board also expressed its thanks to the organisers of the National 12 bell Eliminators and to others who have rearranged their plans to enable the focus of the day to be on The Ringing World and the wider Ringing Exercise. We will have more news on these plans in the New Year.

In its review of the year, the Board reflected on having continued the progress of recent years. This has included completion of a major revision and upgrading of the presentation, style and materials of The Ringing World itself, transfer of all production operations to a new PC-based environment with complementary specialist design software, and the introduction of a new Web Site which is already enabling the Company to experiment with a variety of on-line services appropriate to the 21st Century. Other changes in the recent past have included the introduction of Direct Debit facilities for the advantage of our subscribers as well as The Ringing World.

Work continues towards the prospect of an on-line subscription service for The Ringing World, and the Board expressed its gratitude to all those ringers who have provided feedback on the experiments which it has recently undertaken with different software platforms and display mechanisms. The Board plans to make on-line subscriptions available early in the New Year at a rate of about 75% of the postal subscription rate. We envisage that this will be of particular benefit to overseas readers, but we are also expecting that some UK ringers will prefer to subscribe in this way.

While the Board is proud of the work it has achieved, there are a number of challenges to sustaining this work. These result from a significant drop in income from investments due to continuing low interest rates. There has been less commercial advertising – also a reflection of the depressed economic climate. Sadly, despite the Board and staff’s best endeavours, in common with almost all other published media, subscription levels to The Ringing World have continued to decline, leading to lower subscription revenues.

The Board, with the help of the RW staff, has  been very successful in keeping a tight rein on expenditure with the result that total expenditure in 2009 is likely to be some £10,000 less than budget (although the drop in income is even greater), but inevitably some necessary costs continue to rise.

In these circumstances the Board has had to make some difficult but necessary decisions on the price of The Ringing World in order to ensure that the books can be balanced in the coming year. As a result, the cover price of The Ringing World will increase to £1.85 and the basic UK one-year postal subscription will go up to £60 with effect from 1st January 2010. However, in order to encourage more readers to pay by annual Direct Debit, subscriptions for those paying by that method will increase by just £2 to £57. Advertising rates will also go up by approximately 4%, part of which is necessary because of the 2.5% increase in VAT. A table of the new rates will be published in the first issue of 2010.

The Board also agreed to continue to drive forward its promotional campaigns, aimed at reversing the decline in subscriptions, and thereby easing the financial position further. A “cash back” incentive will be launched in the next few weeks for new subscribers paying by Direct Debit. A campaign will be initiated soon to promote the concept of tower subscriptions as a complement to personal copies, and also to explore opportunities for additional commercial advertising.

As with all businesses, The Ringing World is not immune from the current economic climate, but the Board remains confident and committed to delivering the best products it can to its readers, providing excellent value for money, and to continue its tradition of nearly 100 years of service to the ringing exercise.

Phil Watts
Sales and Marketing Director

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers