Growth in global newspaper sales

After 14 years of decline, advertising is stable

Newspaper sales around the world have grown by nearly 5 per cent over the past five years despite the rise of the internet and competition from the electronic media.

The annual survey of world press trends by the World Association of Newspapers reveals that global newspaper sales were up 0.46 per cent in 2001 from a year earlier and rose by 4.8 per cent over the five years from 1997 to 2001.

In 2001, newspapers in 30 per cent of the 69 countries surveyed reported increases in daily sales over the previous year, 50 per cent reported increases in non-daily circulation, and 63 per cent reported increases in Sunday sales.

Over the five-year period, 32 per cent of countries reported increases in daily sales, 43 per cent had increases in non-daily sales, and nearly three-quarters reported Sunday newspaper circulation gains.

But within the European Union, nine out of 15 countries recorded declines in newspaper circulation in 2001. Sales in the UK were down by 1.8 per cent. The three EU countries where sales increased were Ireland, up 2.4 per cent; Italy up 0.4 per cent; and Finland up 0.21 per cent.

Over the five-year period, 10 EU countries reported circulation losses. They include the UK where sales fell by 8.7 per cent The WAN report also says that advertising revenues dropped 7 per cent in 2001. Although 57 per cent of countries surveyed show a decline, newspapers’ share of advertising stabilised against other media year-on-year for the first time since 1987.

WAN director general Timothy Balding said: "Newspapers had a tough year in 2001 like all other industries. Advertising revenues took a pounding in most developed markets but apparently less so than other media.

"After 14 successive years of decline, newspaper share of advertising remained stable. The global picture of newspaper sales continues to show positive signs with another yearly increase."

The circulation of US dailies remained virtually stable in 2001, with a slight decline of 0.7 per cent. Over the five-year period 1997 to 2001, US circulation has decreased by 2 per cent.

The Norwegians and the Japanese remain the world’s greatest newspaper buyers with, respective sales of 705 and 667 sales per thousand population each day. Finland comes next with 546 followed by Sweden with 539 and Switzerland with 448.

In terms of market share, newspapers take nearly a third of global advertising, 32.9 per cent. In the key North American, European and Asia-Pacific markets, newspaper advertising share is a similar 33 per cent.

The report notes that many newspaper websites are enjoying dramatic growth in terms of traffic and 19 countries reported increases in internet advertising in 2001.

By Jon Slattery

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