Weekly newspapers were the healthiest players on the otherwise
sickly regional scene, showing growth for the sixth consecutive ABC
According to the figures, a total of 59 per cent of weeklies increased
circulation in the latest period, and the sector as a whole - which is
also the largest, with 396 eligible ABC titles - showed a growth of 0.1
Of the total, 234 titles increased circulation, with 12 achieving at
least double-figure growth. The three papers with the strongest growth
have circulation figures of under 3,500: Malton & Pickering Mercury
(116.8 per cent), Yr Herald (28.6 per cent) and the Dumbarton & Vale of
Leven Reporter (22 per cent).
Other strong performers were the Islington Gazette (21.4 per cent), the
Surrey Comet (14.2 per cent) and the Chichester Observer (12.4 per
Taking the top 20 paid-for weeklies by circulation, the Essex Chronicle
and the West Briton swapped places at the top, with the Chronicle
gaining the top slot (50,616).
However, in real terms their circulation was static, with sales of only
a few hundred papers separating the two.
The Chichester Observer (39,483) enjoyed the strongest growth in the top
20, continuing its stand-out performance in the January to June figures,
when it grew 23.7 per cent. Publishing manager Karl Dimmock attributed
the success to ’concentrating purely on local issues’, but said several
improvements had been made to the title.
’We’ve increased the number of change pages and increased story counts,’
he said. ’We’ve also had some successful promotions.’
Dimmock said the weekly sector was performing well because the main
players had ’resisted the temptation to become pseudo-national
newspapers’. ’There’s definitely a niche between the nationals and the
regional dailies for a weekly newspaper that discusses local issues in
more depth,’ he added.
In the free weekly sector, Manchester Metro News continues to lead the
pack, with a distribution figure of 300,088, only a few copies down from
the previous period. However, average pagination was down to 90 from 94
pages, and the percentage of advertising per issue had slipped 5 per
cent to 55 per cent.
The newspaper - part of the Guardian Media Group, whose chief executive
is Ian Ashcroft - does not, as yet, appear to have been affected by the
’battle of the Metros’. Temporary injunctions were served on Associated
Newspapers and the Modern Times Group after they launched free daily
papers in Manchester, both using the word ’Metro’ in the title.
The High Court backed GMG’s claim that the launches infringed the rights
of its own brand. It launched Manchester Metro News as a weekly in
The Dorset Advertiser Series seemed to have dropped out of the list, but
the company said this was a mistake as its distribution figure had not
changed since the last ABCs. It distributes 166,110 papers in the
region, according to the January to June data.
TOP 15 WEEKLY TITLES
Title ABC Year on year %
West Briton 50,616 0.0
Essex Chronicle 49,705 0.0
Kent Messenger 47,949 5.7
Surrey Advertiser 45,615 0.3
Chester Chronicle 44,178 -0.3
Western Gazette 43,165 -2.1
Derbyshire Times 41,939 0.0
Hereford Times 41,164 1.8
Kent & Sussex Courier 40,464 -0.7
Croydon Advertiser 40,147 0.2
Chichester Observer 39,483 12.4
Barnsley Chronicle 39,463 -0.4
Isle of Wight County Press 39,401 2.7
Cornish Guardian 37,992 0.5
Cumberland News 37,438 0.9
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (July-December 1999).