Regional papers stem falling circulation rate

The regional newspaper market is continuing to stem its overall rate of circulation decline, according to the latest batch of six-monthly figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The regional newspaper market is continuing to stem its overall

rate of circulation decline, according to the latest batch of

six-monthly figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations.



The only blight on the positive picture was a slump in sales of the

Sunday regional titles, down by just over 4 per cent year on year. Last

year, the rate of decline had been stemmed to 2.6 per cent.



The biggest-selling regional Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Post, fell 6.6

per cent year on year to 738,848 in the six months to December 1998,

which made a significant impact on the sector’s total circulation

figures.



The Sunday Sun in Newcastle and Belfast’s Sunday Life also suffered from

declining circulation.



The weeklies market is still the only growth sector within the regional

press market. It increased its rate of growth to 1 per cent year on year

from 0.8 per cent in 1998. Almost three-quarters of all titles reported

a rise in circulation.



The top three titles - the West Briton, Essex Chronicle and Surrey

Advertiser - all reported nominal growth while The Kent Messenger, the

fourth largest title, reported a 5.3 per cent rise year on year to

45,383.



The regional morning market saw eight out of 17 titles report sales

rises but, overall, the sector declined by 0.5 per cent. This compares

with a fall of 0.4 per cent last year.



The top three titles - the Press & Journal in Aberdeen, Glasgow’s The

Herald and Dundee’s Courier & Advertiser - all saw a fall in sales.



Sales in the evening regional market were down 1.2 per cent year on

year, the same as last year. The two largest titles - the Birmingham

Evening Mail and the West Midlands Express & Star - reported sales

declines of 2.4 and 2.6 per cent respectively.



Chris Stanley, the marketing director of the Newspaper Society, said:

’Although the picture is one of robust growth for the weeklies and

stability overall, we cannot afford to be complacent. One of the major

challenges for the industry is to make the final leap into positive

growth across all sectors.’



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