For the first time in years the Newspaper Society decided not to greet the release of the regional ABC figures with a PR offensive.
It normally releases a series of charts and other information detailing regional press successes.
But this time, the regional newspaper trade body instead said it was developing a new way of measuring readership, which it calls "a multimedia portfolio audience currency for the regional press".
The NS argues that the ABC figures do not give the full picture, because they do not take into account regional newspaper website readership.
Working alongside JICREG (the Joint Industry Committee for Regional Press Research) and ABC Electronic, the NS said it is building an expanded database of regional press print and online platforms.
This is seen as the first stage in generating a system of combined audience reach.
The NS argues that with major changes at regional press centres in the past year — from the launch of a partpaid, part-free distribution model at Manchester, and development of Metros and commuter Lites, to the blurring between evening and morning titles — it has become increasingly difficult to analyse ABC circulation data within the current framework (morning, evening, paid weekly, free weekly, ABC bulk) in any meaningful way.
Instead, the NS is focusing on its regional press media portfolio case studies, with 28 now available on the NS website.
These case studies show advertisers and agencies how publishers are broadening their platforms beyond the core daily and weekly newspaper products, to produce supplements, niche publications, lifestyle magazines and websites, as well as branching into radio, TV and Mornings — ranked by circulation (Mon-Sat)
Title % actively purchased Sales % Year/Year Sundays are stymied by the national CD and DVD bonanza other communications methods.
The latest NS Annual Industry Survey has shown a big increase in the number and variety of platforms offered by regional press publishers.
As well as 1,300 core regional newspaper titles, the number of regional press websites increased from 509 in 2004 to 828 in 2005, while the number of stand-alone magazines and niche publications has grown from 400 to nearly 600. The number of regional press owned radio stations grew from 20 to 28. There were 16 launches of new regional newspaper titles.
"The regional press is extending its audience reach across a rapidly-growing portfolio of newspapers, websites, niche magazines and broadcast channels," said David Newell, director of the Newspaper Society.
The NS says the regional press is still the largest print advertising medium and worth £3 billion a year, second only to television.