Newspaper circulation holds its own

Australian newspaper circulation has stood up well compared with its overseas counterparts, falling marginally in the September quarter, new data shows.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) said sales of metropolitan newspapers fell 1.1 percent in the three months to September 30, compared with the previous corresponding period.

The Newspaper Works, the non-profit body set up to promote the industry, said the figures highlighted the resilience of the industry and were in sharp contrast to the circulation figures from overseas.

"Just as the Australian economy has proven more resilient than the rest of the world, so too have our newspapers," The Newspaper Works chief executive Tony Hale said in a statement.

The highest selling newspaper in the September quarter was Sydney's Sunday Telegraph at 639,354 copies, which was down 1.6 per cent from a year ago.

In percentage terms, the Monday to Friday edition of The Australian Financial Review recorded the largest decline in circulation, falling by 9.7 percent to 79,201, from 87,702.

The biggest percentage increase was the 0.9 percent rise by the Saturday edition of Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

Australians bought more than 20 million newspapers each week, the ABC figures showed, with about 3.2 million of those bought on Sunday, the biggest selling day of the week.

Mr Hale said Australians held their newspapers "in high regard".

"Newspapers in Australia continue to set the news agenda on a daily basis and Australians turn to newspapers as the most reliable news medium," Mr Hale said.

In Victoria, the Monday to Friday edition of the Herald Sun maintained its place as Australia's biggest selling metropolitan daily, selling 518,500 copies and up 0.1 percent from a year ago.

The weekday Herald Sun also increased its lead over Melbourne's The Age, where circulation fell 1.5 percent to 200,800.

Figures from overseas showed that weekday newspaper circulation in the United States fell by 10.6 percent in the six months to September, compared with a year ago.

It was the largest decline in the past decade, during which time the number of online sites that offer readers stories for free has grown significantly.

The shift to readers online, coupled with the global recession over the past year, has caused a sharp fall in advertising revenue.

News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch said in August that the global media company planned to start charging online readers to accesss its newspaper websites.

News Corp owns local newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph, The Australian and The Herald Sun, as well as the New York Post and UK's The Sun and The Times.

In the UK, national daily newspaper sales backpedalled 3.9 per cent in September, compared with a year ago.


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