Agencies have expressed concern that Express Newspapers is trying to hike prices and reduce discounts on high-volume deals on the back of improved circulation for the Daily Express and Daily Star.
Sources said problems arose on a client-by-client basis rather than from agencies pulling their entire budgets out of Express titles.
Agencies reducing spend in the main sections of the Express titles in April included OMD UK, Manning Gottlieb OMD and ZenithOptimedia. OMD's spend in these sections fell 52 per cent, Nielsen Media Research claimed.
Total spend in the main Daily and Sunday Express news sections fell by 1 per cent in April. Advertisers reducing their spend in these sections in March and April included COI Communications. However, during the past year key advertisers including Currys, Courts and COI significantly increased their spend.
One agency press director said: "Headline circulation has improved but there are still a lot of bulks and overseas sales in there. It's just not cost effective against the opposition. The Express seems to be playing the long game and having stand-offs with advertisers."