Standard calls for circulation figures to include freesheets

By Dominic Ponsford

The Evening Standard’s circulation boss has called for a change in
the Audit Bureau of Circulation rules to allow its free Lite edition
copies to be included with its main figure.

If adopted, the rule change could mean that all publications are
allowed to combine paid-for, free and electronic editions to boost
their official circulations.

Following the release of the May ABC
figures, the Standard claimed a “huge” circulation boost of 9.8 per
cent year-on-year by combining Lite and paid-for sales.

But without the 76,000 giveaway Lite copies, Standard sales were down 10 per cent year-on-year to 348,892.

Circulation
director for parent company Associated Newspapers, Mike Newman, said:
“At the moment you have to present the two figures completely
separately. You are not allowed to put them together in the way you
present them.

“Some publications are being produced in a number of different formats.

They
may be fully paid-for, they may be Lites or maybe it’s an e-version of
some sort – we want to be able to accumulate all this data together.”

Newman
said he raised the issue at a “blue-sky” discussion forum hosted by ABC
last Friday and the body is now considering his proposals.

May’s
ABC figures provided the first bit of good circulation news for Daily
Mirror editor Richard Wallace since he was promoted to the top job at
the title last June.

The paper’s sales were down 8.9 per cent
year-on-year last month but in May the year-on-year drop slowed to 3.58
per cent and month-on-month it was up 3.54 per cent to the current
total of 1,780,554.

It is the paper’s highest overall circulation since September 2004, and the highest month-on-month increase since January 2002.

On
10 May, the Daily Mirror launched a daily seven-page section called
Your Life, which includes human interest stories about “real people”,
as well as fashion, shopping and health coverage.

On the
marketing side, the paper ran a comedy DVD giveaway throughout May.
Readers were invited to exchange an in-paper coupon for single-episode
DVDs of classic BBC comedies such as The Good Life and Open All Hours
at branches of Woolworths.

The Times claimed to have widened the gap with The Daily Telegraph in May on full-price sales.

Full-price
sales were up 8.1 per cent to 508,348, compared with the Telegraph’s
figure of 483,365. The headline circulation figures for May were
684,695 (up 3.57 per cent year-on-year)n at The Times and 915,711 (up
0.35 per cent year-on-year) at the Telegraph.

Times editor Robert
Thomson said: “The Times continues to leave the field far behind as
other papers bulk up their bulk, foreign and heavily discounted sales.
The quality market is now dominated by the success of The Times, both
in print and online. Most strikingly, the full-price gap over The Daily
Telegraph is now 24,983 copies. In May last year, The Times was 40,395
copies behind. Clearly the compact has had an impact.”

Telegraph editor Martin Newland talked up the success of the paper’s subscriptions.

He
said: “Our circulation has grown, in difficult market conditions, for
the past four months, rising to a year-onyear increase. I am
particularly delighted with our healthy subscriber base, which builds
on our unique status as undisputed market leader.”

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