Daily Mail emerges as BBC's newspaper of choice as corporation cuts down on Guardian

The Daily Mail has become the BBC's newspaper of choice, with the corporation cutting down on copies of The Guardian, new figures show.

But comparisons between newspapers bought by the BBC and total UK circulations show a disproportionate bias towards broadsheets.

A Freedom of Information request shows that the BBC bought 622,832 copies of 20 mainstream daily and Sunday national newspapers in 2014.

Of these, 329,716 (53 per cent) were broadsheet newspapers, and the remaining 293,116 (47 per cent) were tabloids.

According to ABC, tabloid newspapers recorded a combined circulation, on average, of 10.6m editions per day in the second half of 2014. Broadsheets – excluding the i, which was not included in the BBC count – had a combined average circulation of 2.8m over this period, meaning they make up 21 per cent of the public’s newspaper choice.

The BBC figures have emerged after an FoI question asked for “the quantity, by title, of copies of each national newspaper purchased by the BBC in the most recent year for which figures are available”. The BBC provided the figures of newspapers delivered through the BBC’s “managed service” for 2014.

Previously, the BBC has been accused of left-wing bias after it emerged in 2013 that it bought more copies of The Guardian (68,307) than any other newspaper – despite it being one of the least popular newspapers in terms of circulation. This fact was cited in the Mail's editorial last week, when the paper criticised the BBC for not following up its story about Edward Snowden not having read all of the NSA documents he leaked to The Guardian and others. It asked: "[W]ith the BBC buying more copies of the Guardian than any other newspaper, is its Left-wing, metropolitan bias really still a surprise?" 

The corporation now purchases more copies of the Daily Mail (78,463), The Times (77,167), The Daily Telegraph (75,308), The Sun (66,202), The Independent (61,339) and Daily Mirror (60,528) than The Guardian (45,672).

The BBC buys fewer copies of the Daily Star (17,988), Financial Times (40,253) and Daily Express (42,263) than the titles above.

In total, the BBC bought 563,183 daily (Monday-Saturday) newspapers in 2014.

The corporation’s most popular Sunday newspaper in 2014 was The Sunday Times (9,035), followed by The Observer (7,620), The Mail on Sunday (7,591), The Sunday Telegraph (7,243) and The Independent on Sunday (6,079).

The BBC buys fewer copies of the Sunday Mirror (5,732), The Sun on Sunday (5,008),  Sunday Express (4,675), Sunday People (3,112) and Daily Star Sunday (1,554). The FoI also revealed that the corporation purchased 104 copies of the Sunday Sport (right) in 2014.

Comparison with circulations

Despite the Mail and Sun titles being among the most bought by the BBC, a comparison with average UK circulations shows that they are underrepresented within the corporation. In other words, while the titles make up 50 per cent of the total circulation of the ten national dailies listed, they make up 25 per cent of the BBC's papers.

The following tables shows how BBC staff vary from the general public in their reading habits:

Daily newspapers Number of copies bought by BBC in 2014 Average circulation in second half of 2014 Percentage of BBC's total newspapers Percentage of total circulations
Daily Express 42,263 466,836 7.48 6.79
Daily Mail 78,463 1,669,620 13.88 24.28
Daily Mirror 60,528 939,172 10.71 13.66
Daily Star 17,988 452,581 3.18 6.58
The Daily Telegraph 75,308 501,367 13.32 7.29
Financial Times 40,253 214,963 7.12 3.13
The Guardian 45,672 179,138 8.08 2.60
The Sun 66,202 1,996,427 11.71 29.03
The Independent 61,339 61,916 10.85 0.90
The Times 77,167 394,721 13.65 5.74
Totals 565,183 6,876,741    

 

Sunday newspapers Number bought by BBC in 2014 Average circulation in second half of 2014 Proportion of BBC papers Proportion of daily newspaper circulation
Daily Star Sunday 1,554 285,013 2.70 4.32
The Independent on Sunday 6,079 100,901 10.54 1.53
The Mail on Sunday 7,591 1,499,974 13.17 22.74
The Observer 7,620 200,075 13.22 3.03
The Sun on Sunday 5,008 1,622,344 8.69 24.60
Sunday Express 4,675 411,971 8.11 6.25
Sunday Mirror 5,732 914,036 9.94 13.86
The Sunday Telegraph 7,243 394,767 12.56 5.99
The Sunday Times 9,035 802,128 15.67 12.16
Sunday People 3,112 364,252 5.40 5.52
Totals 57,649 6,595,461    

The FoI response also provided the amount of money spent by the BBC on each newspaper.

The BBC spent the most money on the Telegraph titles (£100,835 overall). The Times titles, meanwhile, cost the broadcaster £97,577 together and the Independent newspapers £84,095.

Aside from the Sunday Sport, which cost £101 over the year, the least amount of money – £8,192 – was spent on the Star newspapers.

Ephraim Hardcastle, a Daily Mail diary column, today noted that while the Daily Mail is now the broadcaster's newspaper of choice, "the BBC paid more to buy 45,672 (£1.60) Guardians in 2014 (£63,061) than 78,463 Mails (£40,482)".

Daily newspapers Total spent, 2014 Sunday newspapers Total spent, 2014
Daily Express £21,134 Sunday Express £5,154
Daily Mail £40,482 The Mail on Sunday £9,319
Daily Star £6,830 Daily Star Sunday £1,362
The Daily Telegraph £89,069 The Sunday Telegraph £11,766
The Guardian £63,061 The Observer £17,076
The Sun £22,730 The Sun on Sunday £2,807
The Independent £73,175 The Independent on Sunday £10,920
The Times £78,825 The Sunday Times £18,752
Daily Mirror £28,269 Sunday Mirror £5,205
Financial Times £83,061 Sunday People £2,647

A BBC spokesperson said: “The largest number of newspapers delivered come from News UK. As an impartial international news broadcaster with three rolling TV news channels, 28 foreign language services, daily paper reviews as well as various radio and TV current affairs programmes our viewers rightly expect our presenters, journalists and expert contributors to be across all the day’s stories in all the UK newspapers.

“The BBC has secured a discount through its service contract ensuring value for money.”

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