Readers are deserting FT according to latest figures from the NRS

By Dominic Ponsford

A quarterly survey used by the advertising industry claims that the Financial Times lost 36 per cent of its UK readers in the six months to September 2005.

But sources at the FT have dismissed the National Readership Survey findings as a blip and not necessarily representative of the true picture.

The latest NRS is funded by newspaper and magazine publishers and is based on 18,018 face-to-face interviews carried out in readers’ homes.

According to the NRS, the number of FT readers fell by 181,000 to 328,000, compared with the same period a year earlier. This compares with a UK audited circulation figure for the paper in September 2005 of 131,494, compared with 128,777 a year before.

An FT spokesman said: “It’s a really broad survey and for niche titles like the FT it’s too broad to be meaningful.

Surveys like the British Business Survey and the British Business Readership Survey are more meaningful for our readers.”

A spokesman for the NRS said: “Our figures are an estimate and like any sample survey there’s going to be sampling error. Looking at trends over five or six years there’s a close relationship between readership and circulation.

“We are 95 per cent confident the 328,000 figure is correct plus or minus 76,000 – the smaller the publication, the greater the margin of error.”

According to the NRS, the readership of The Guardian grew by 30 per cent to 597,000 – in the six months to September, a period when its ABC sale fell by 0.9 per cent year on year to 374,192.

The Independent was another big winner, according to the survey, as readership rose 14 per cent year on year to 385,000, despite sales dropping 0.72 per cent to 261,116.

Looking at social class, the survey suggests the Daily Mail is the most popular paper among the richer ABC1 readers often targeted by advertisers. It has 3,519,000 ABC1 readers, followed by the The Sun on 2,859,000, The Daily Telegraph on 1,867,000 and The Times on 1,686,000.

In terms of attracting younger readers, The Sun appears to have had most success. For the six months to September, it had an average daily readership of 4,814,000 aged 15-44. Next most popular paper among the young was the Daily Mail on 1,875,000 then the Daily Mirror on 1,771,000 and The Times on 889,000.

According to the NRS, just 587,000 of The Daily Telegraph’s estimated 2,102,000 readers are aged 15-44.

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