WAN: Digital revenues will not replace print

The World Association of Newspapers said in a report today that it can see not point in the future when digital advertising revenues will equal those currently achieve by print.

The annual World Press Trends survey says that globally press advertising is a a $182bn dollar a year industry and that digital revenues for newspapers accounted for less than $6bn last year and will grow to no more than $8.4bn by 2013.

Citing forecasts by Pricewaterhousecoopers, WAN chief executive Tim Balding said: “At no time soon will digital advertising revenues come close to achieving the sort of revenues required, by many, to compensate for falling print revenue.

“So that answer will have to be found elsewhere. Should these forecasts come close to being true, new business models will have to be invented.

“If newspaper companies wish to maintain their strong content leadership, someone is going to have to pay. It looks like we have to solve the digital payment issue and soon.”

The report was presented today at the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Hyderabad, India.

The WAN survey showed that newspaper circulations grew, on a global scale, by 1.3 percent in 2008.

Balding said: “You might say that this growth is taking place in the developing markets and masks a continued downward trend in the developed world.

“And to a degree this is true, but it is not the whole story, as newspaper companies in the ‘old’ markets have embraced digital platforms and new forms of print publishing and, in doing so, have actually grown their audience reach and revenues, even while their print circulations have come under pressure.”

The data shows consistent newspaper growth in Africa, Asia and South America, and a long-term slowdown in the US and European markets.

Balding said: “But even here, a sense of proportion demands that we deny the idea that the apocalypse is upon us.

“A circulation drop in Europe, for example, is less than 3 percent over five years. Over five years, according to our survey, newspaper circulation increased in 100 of the 182 nations for which we have reliable data.”

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