News International has confirmed today it will cease distributing “bulks” – copies sold for a nominal fee typically for free distributed to clients of airlines and hotels.
The move will reduce the headline circulation figure for The Times and Sunday Times newspapers however circulations for News International’s tabloid titles, The Sun and the News of the World, will not be affected as they do not distribute bulks.
The move follows a similar announcement by Guardian News & Media in August when it ended distribution of bulk copies of The Guardian and The Observer.
Other newspaper groups are expected to follow suit in the coming months.
News International said the Audit Bureau of Circulations had been made aware of the decision and would be altering its audit requirements.
The publisher added that it had served notice on partners and wholesalers with which it has supply agreements for bulks. Due to contract notice periods, the company said today, the change will only take effect in the ABC figures reported in January.
The company added: “News International is committed to producing the best journalism and believes in charging a fair price for that journalism. We have taken this decision to reflect the value we believe our newspapers offer.”
According to the September ABC audit, the most recent figures available, bulks accounted for 47,878 (8.4 per cent) of The Times’s overall sale of 571,506; and 16,543 (1.4 per cent) of the 1,207,141 copies of the Sunday Times sold.