Paid-for regional newspapers continue period of growth

LONDON - Weekly paid-for newspapers are continuing to grow, outperforming the market in the latest round of ABCs for the July-December 2003 period.

This is against a backdrop of growing readership -- total readership of regional newspapers, paid-for and free, has hit the 40m mark, according to BMRB/TGI, a year-on-year increase in of 1.8% for the regional press industry as a whole.

The leading title in the paid-for sector is the Kent Messenger with a weekly circulation of 58,226, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures for July-December.

In the latest period, publishers of paid-for titles have all but eliminated bulk sales and discounted copies from their sales figures. Full-rate sales have grown from 94% to 97% in four years.

Chris Boyd, chief executive of ABC, said: "Regional paid newspapers have once again shown their commitment to move their sector to virtually all actively purchased sales. This, together with titles showing year-on-year increases, puts them in a good position to attract even more advertising into their sector."

More than half of all weekly titles have increased circulation. However, the large metropolitan dailies continue to struggle to increase headline sales. The London Evening Standard recorded an ABC of 398,966.

The figures also reveal that more people are buying regional papers in the East Midlands, the South West of England, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland than in any other part of the UK.

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