Founded in 1870 as the Belfast Evening Telegraph, a title it kept until 1918, it produces several different editions, although the number has declined in recent years. The “Final Edition” remains the most popular.
The morning edition, launched in 2005 as a freesheet with more lightweight content, was originally titled the Belfast Telegraph:am but recently dropped the suffix. In the meantime it had already become a paid-for paper (with a relatively small number of pickup copies; that number’s now expanded to about a third of the print run), with essentially the same news content as the later editions barring updates and breaking news.
Other editions included a “County Edition” (now apparently dropped), the North West Telegraph for the area around Derry, and a “Final Edition” on Saturdays. All are now in tabloid format, after a period where they were available in both broadsheet and tabloid format.
There’s also an associated Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Life.
It’s owned by international publishing group Independent News and Media, which also owned the quality national newspapers The Independent and the Independent on Sunday until early 2010. In terms of Northern Ireland politics, its stance is considered to be moderate Unionist.
Although it’s fundamentally a paid-for newspaper, a substantial number of copies – nearly 10,000 a day – are distributed free from pick-up points at retailers and institutes of further and higher education across the circulation area. This is in addition to a sister freesheet series for Belfast and North Down, the Community Telegraph.
On 17 April 2012 it was announced that the Final edition would be on sale in the morning from Friday 20 April, ending the “Tele”‘s 142-year history as an evening newspaper and following a move already made by its rivals the News Letter and The Irish News.
It’s available as an e-edition by paid subscription. iPhone and iPad apps are also available.