Regional newspaper ABCs: almost all evenings decline

By Sarah Lagan and Dominic Ponsford

The Belfast Telegraph has
set a precedent for regional evening newspaper publishing after posting
an encouraging 0.5 per cent Monday to Saturday headline sales increase
following the launch of a tabloid morning edition in March 2005. This
compares with a 12.9 per cent drop in its headline sale in the
six-month ABC audit of a year ago.

Editor
Ed Curran said: “I think that the evening newspaper market has been
particularly difficult in having availability across a whole region but
if you have a morning edition you can provide for those readers in the
most far reaching areas. The value of a morning gives readers a choice
virtually from morning to night.”

The Manchester Evening News has
also turned its fortunes around following the launch of a morning
edition at the end of last year. And the launch of a free commuter
edition in March – designed to increase readership – does not appear to
have cannibalised paid-for sales.

The Monday to Saturday sale
showed a 1.8 per cent year-on-year decline – well ahead of the average
decline for evening papers in the rest of the country.

Circulation
director Julie Tattersall said the results: “not only reflect an
enormous amount of hard work by the staff of the M.E.N., they show us
that our expansion plans for the newspaper over the past six months
have paid off.”

Elsewhere the regional newspaper ABC circulation figures for the six months to June make grim readering.

According
to the Newspaper Society just two of the country’s 82 regional evenings
put on actively purchased sales (ignoring bulks): the Hartlepool Mail
(up from 20,873 to 20,897)) and East edition of the Carlisle News and
Star (up three per cent to 18,610).

Trinity Mirror Welsh morning
paper the Western Mail is the top performing regional daily in terms of
growth with a 3.1 per cent rise proving its transition to a tabloid
format has been a success. Editor Alan Edmunds said: “Clearly, the move
to compact has been key. No doubt about that at all. But it has been
accompanied by a whole host of content and other product enhancements
that have also been well received by readers and advertisers.” He
referred to the new £18 million printing presses as well as the renewed
success of the Welsh rugby team.

The UK’s 480-odd paid-for weekly
papers have been the success story of British press in recent years
with the majority putting on sales.

But this time even they are showing a gradual decline.

Press Gazette analysis of the ABC figures reveals a 2.3 per cent overall decline in sales for paid-for weeklies.

There
were, however, a number of remarkable weekly success stories around the
country including the Hackney Gazette (up 11.9 per cent to 11,324), the
From and Somerset Standard (up 10.6 per cent 8,743) and the Worksop
Guardian (up 9.4 per cent to 16,790).

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