Mirror numbers drop during war

Audience figures from the war in Iraq appear to dispute the BBC's claim that it is the nation's favourite source of TV news, while the Daily Mirror has slumped in the newspaper market.

During the days of the war, ITV1's peaktime news programme has regularly out-performed its rival on BBC1, while Channel 4 has seen audiences for its 7pm bulletin double year on year.

In multi-channel homes, Sky News has clearly been the station of choice.

In the first week of the campaign, it peaked with a 9.2 per cent share of the audience - this compared with a 2.9 per cent share for BBC News 24 and 0.9 per cent for the ITV News Channel. Audiences across all channels have tailed off as the war has progressed, although Sky News has maintained its three-to-one lead over News 24.

The BBC responded by claiming the viewers have been watching more hours on the BBC than its rivals. However, the BBC has more stations and carried more hours of coverage than any of its rivals.

The war has not created the anticipated uplift in the circulations of many daily and Sunday papers during March.

Instead, the Daily Mirror, whose editor, Piers Morgan, adopted an anti-war stance, fell below the two million mark for the first time with 1,997,846 actively purchased copies. This represented a 4 per cent year-on-year decline against a 4 per cent increase for The Sun, which sold 3,521,144 copies in March.

Broadsheets, with the exception of The Guardian and The Observer, have fared badly: The Daily Telegraph was down 4 per cent, The Times down 5 per cent, Financial Times down 3.5 per cent, The Sunday Times down 0.2 per cent, The Sunday Telegraph down 6.4 per cent and The Independent on Sunday down 5.7 per cent.

Editor Alan Rusbridger's position on the war pushed The Guardian's sales up by 4 per cent.

Meanwhile, the mid-market titles the Daily Mail and the Daily Express had improved circulations. Daily Mail has risen by 1 per cent and Daily Express by 4 per cent. The Mail on Sunday has risen 1.5 per cent with Sunday Express up by 5.7 per cent.