WAN chief: Web threat a myth

World Association of Newspapers president Gavin O’Reilly has condemned the threat posed to newspapers by the internet as a ‘myth”.

O’Reilly, who is also chief operating officer of Independent News and Media, said that with circulations on the rise, a record number of paid-for titles in existence and capital investment in excess of $6bn last year, the demise of newspapers had been greatly exaggerated.

O’Reilly said the suggestion that the internet was damaging newspapers was ‘unfounded”.

‘The data suggests increased internet usage tracks increased newspaper usage. There is an increase in total audience (if newspapers are linked to internet), proving yet again, in spite of what the doomsayers say, the complementary nature of print and online.”

Refuting the possible threat posed by broadband, O’Reilly said: ‘The data shows that in markets where broadband penetration is at its highest, newspaper penetration is also high.”

The World Newspapers Congress in Cape Town, organised by WAN, heard that circulation rose by 2.3 per cent in 2006 to 515 million papers bought each day. This figure is an increase of 9.8 per cent on five years ago.

Timothy Balding, chief executive of WAN, said: ‘As the digital tide gathers strength, it is remarkable that the press in print continues to be the media of preference for the majority of readers who want to remain informed.”

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