November: Thomson blasts Guardian as busted flush in circulation war

By Dominic Ponsford
 
Times editor Robert Thomson has dismissed the
Berliner Guardian as a “busted flush” and accused it of using foreign
circulation to keep the headline sales figure above 400,000.
 
But Guardian executives believe their paper’s
6.29 per cent year-on-year circulation rise to 401,029 is “fantastic
performance” considering the “unprecedented” marketing activity from
rivals.
 
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations
figures for November circulation growth of The Guardian has flattened
out following its 12 September £80 million relaunch in Berliner format.
Although the paper was well up year-on-year, month-on-month it was down
0.56 per cent.
 
A closer look at the figures reveals that 47,352
of the Guardian’s 401,029 November sales were overseas copies. In
October, 41,864 out of that month’s 403,297 total were sold overseas.
Copies sold abroad are viewed by some as less significant than those
bought in the UK because they are more difficult to audit.
 
Thomson said: “The Guardian is a busted flush.
After all the hype and pomposity, they have had to resort to ‘foreign’
copy to keep the sale above 400,000. Now we know what they mean by
Berliner – they’ve suddenly found thousands of new readers in Berlin.”
 
He also ridiculed the Telegraph (down 1.48 per cent year-on-year to 903,400) for keeping its sale up with more give-away copies.
Multiple copies given away at hotels and airports increased to 61,497 in November, compared with 54,355 in October.
 
He said: “As for the Telegraph, it’s bulk here,
bulk there, bulk everywhere. They must be sending bulk copies to
B&Bs in Blackpool. All at The Times should be proud of 21
consecutive months of year-on-year growth.”
 
After a fantastic October for the tabloid Times,
when sales grew 7.16 per cent year-on-year, its circulation growth
slowed down in November to a 1.34 per cent rise year-on-year with the
total slipping back to 691,283 (compared with 703,492 the month before).
 
Guardian Newspapers chief executive Carolyn
McCall said: “This is another fantastic month’s sale for the Berliner
Guardian…This sustained performance, ahead of our own predictions, is
even more remarkable given the intense competition in the newspaper
market this autumn, with unprecedented and costly marketing activity,
focused on DVD
promotions, by all our rivals.
 
“In fact, the Guardian has promoted three
Saturdays with a DVD to generate sampling since launch, while the Times
have used seven DVDs and the Independent seven DVDs in the same period.
 
“The Berliner format change has by any standards been a terrific success,
and we’ve just been named best designed national newspaper in Europe.
 
“All this comes at a time when other national newspaper groups are spending
hundreds of millions of pounds each on new full colour presses, belatedly
to catch up with us, and in the case of the Times by imposing a three-year
budget freeze.
 
“We are looking forward with great confidence to the Observer’s move to the
Berliner format next month.”
 
Journalists at The Independent have cause for
celebration, after it recorded its second consecutive year-on-year rise
up 0.44 per cent to 263,449. Before the Guardian’s Berliner relaunch,
Independent executives had feared that a resurgent Guardian would eat
into their sales.
 
The biggest circulation winners for November were in the Sunday market.
 
The Independent on Sunday has continued to feel
the benefits of a tabloid relaunch on 16 October and was up 6.34 per
cent year-on-year to 225,629. The tabloid relaunch of the Sunday Herald
in Scotland on 20 November has also boosted sales. It was up 3.04 per
cent year-on-year to 61,452.
 
The Sunday Telegraph is another paper to feel the
benefit of a relaunch. It was up 2.98 per cent year-on-year to 714,994
following a £2 million revamp on 6 November which included the
introduction of the magazine supplements Stella and Seven. .

 

UK national newspapers circulation for November 2005
Current month Last Month mth/mth Last Year Yr/Yr
Nov 05 Oct 05 +/- % Nov 04 +/- %
National morning popular
Daily Mirror 1,671,950 1,684,660 -0.75 1,748,026 -4.35
Daily Record 442,546 454,247 -2.58 467,421 -5.32
Daily Star 795,308 820,028 -3.01 846,169 -6.01
The Sun 3,192,976 3,224,427 -0.98 3,239,041 -1.42
Total of average daily net
circulation
6,102,780 6,183,362 -1.30 6,300,657 -3.14
National morning mid market
Daily Express 796,592 810,827 -1.76 892,533 -10.75
The Daily Mail 2,341,437 2,350,694 -0.39 2,403,073 -2.56
Total of average daily net
circulation
3,138,029 3,161,521 -0.74 3,295,606 -4.78
National morning quality
The Daily Telegraph 903,405 901,667 0.19 917,001 -1.48
Financial Times 431,806 419,249 3.00 425,259 1.54
The Herald 76,159 75,541 0.82 79,610 -4.33
The Guardian 401,029 403,297 -0.56 377,292 6.29
The Independent 263,449 267,037 -1.34 262,293 0.44
The Scotsman 65,392 65,194 0.30 68,234 -4.17
The Times 691,283 703,492 -1.74 682,109 1.34
Total of average daily net
circulation
2,832,523 2,835,477 -0.10 2,811,798 0.74
Overall total of average daily net
circulation
12,073,332 12,180,360 -0.88 12,408,061 -2.70
National morning sporting
Racing Post 74,570 74,552 0.02 76,013 -1.90
London evening
Evening Standard 346,489 329,247 5.24 370,832 -6.56
National morning group
The Daily Mirror / Daily Record 2,114,496 2,138,907 -1.14 2,215,447 -4.56
National Sunday popular
Daily Star Sunday 395,708 404,723 -2.23 467,445 -15.35
News of the World 3,733,025 3,773,705 -1.08 3,631,057 2.81
Sunday Mail 538,971 549,129 -1.85 590,690 -8.76
Sunday Mirror 1,421,348 1,457,792 -2.50 1,591,708 -10.70
The People 870,389 905,494 -3.88 931,019 -6.51
Sunday Sport 147,241 148,385 -0.77 154,572 -4.74
Total of average Sunday net
circulation
7,106,682 7,239,228 -1.83 7,366,491 -3.53
National Sunday mid market
Sunday Express 871,312 829,064 5.10 996,049 -12.52
The Mail on Sunday 2,337,740 2,292,258 1.98 2,531,928 -7.67
Total of average Sunday net
circulation
3,209,052 3,121,322 2.81 3,527,977 -9.04
National Sunday quality
Independent on Sunday 225,629 230,053 -1.92 212,172 6.34
The Business 171,983 178,528 -3.67 218,576 -21.32
The Observer 436,882 451,781 -3.30 459,952 -5.02
Scotland on Sunday 83,449 84,192 -0.88 83,432 0.02
Sunday Herald 61,452 58,140 5.70 59,637 3.04
The Sunday Telegraph 714,992 661,425 8.10 694,304 2.98
The Sunday Times 1,395,046 1,404,616 -0.68 1,363,512 2.31
Total of average Sunday net
circulation
3,089,433 3,068,735 0.67 3,091,585 -0.07
Overall total of average Sunday net
circulation
13,405,167 13,429,285 -0.18 13,986,053 -4.15
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