The Daily Mail has become the BBC's newspaper of choice, with the corporation cutting down on copies of The Guardian, new figures show.
But comparisons between newspapers bought by the BBC and total UK circulations show a disproportionate bias towards broadsheets.
- February 17, 2020
- February 12, 2020
- February 11, 2020
A Freedom of Information request shows that the BBC bought 622,832 copies of 20 mainstream daily and Sunday national newspapers in 2014.
Of these, 329,716 (53 per cent) were broadsheet newspapers, and the remaining 293,116 (47 per cent) were tabloids.
According to ABC, tabloid newspapers recorded a combined circulation, on average, of 10.6m editions per day in the second half of 2014. Broadsheets – excluding the i, which was not included in the BBC count – had a combined average circulation of 2.8m over this period, meaning they make up 21 per cent of the public’s newspaper choice.
The BBC figures have emerged after an FoI question asked for “the quantity, by title, of copies of each national newspaper purchased by the BBC in the most recent year for which figures are available”. The BBC provided the figures of newspapers delivered through the BBC’s “managed service” for 2014.
Previously, the BBC has been accused of left-wing bias after it emerged in 2013 that it bought more copies of The Guardian (68,307) than any other newspaper – despite it being one of the least popular newspapers in terms of circulation. This fact was cited in the Mail's editorial last week, when the paper criticised the BBC for not following up its story about Edward Snowden not having read all of the NSA documents he leaked to The Guardian and others. It asked: "[W]ith the BBC buying more copies of the Guardian than any other newspaper, is its Left-wing, metropolitan bias really still a surprise?"
The corporation now purchases more copies of the Daily Mail (78,463), The Times (77,167), The Daily Telegraph (75,308), The Sun (66,202), The Independent (61,339) and Daily Mirror (60,528) than The Guardian (45,672).
The BBC buys fewer copies of the Daily Star (17,988), Financial Times (40,253) and Daily Express (42,263) than the titles above.
In total, the BBC bought 563,183 daily (Monday-Saturday) newspapers in 2014.
The corporation’s most popular Sunday newspaper in 2014 was The Sunday Times (9,035), followed by The Observer (7,620), The Mail on Sunday (7,591), The Sunday Telegraph (7,243) and The Independent on Sunday (6,079).
The BBC buys fewer copies of the Sunday Mirror (5,732), The Sun on Sunday (5,008), Sunday Express (4,675), Sunday People (3,112) and Daily Star Sunday (1,554). The FoI also revealed that the corporation purchased 104 copies of the Sunday Sport (right) in 2014.
Comparison with circulations
Despite the Mail and Sun titles being among the most bought by the BBC, a comparison with average UK circulations shows that they are underrepresented within the corporation. In other words, while the titles make up 50 per cent of the total circulation of the ten national dailies listed, they make up 25 per cent of the BBC's papers.
The following tables shows how BBC staff vary from the general public in their reading habits:
|Daily newspapers||Number of copies bought by BBC in 2014||Average circulation in second half of 2014||Percentage of BBC's total newspapers||Percentage of total circulations|
|The Daily Telegraph||75,308||501,367||13.32||7.29|
|Sunday newspapers||Number bought by BBC in 2014||Average circulation in second half of 2014||Proportion of BBC papers||Proportion of daily newspaper circulation|
|Daily Star Sunday||1,554||285,013||2.70||4.32|
|The Independent on Sunday||6,079||100,901||10.54||1.53|
|The Mail on Sunday||7,591||1,499,974||13.17||22.74|
|The Sun on Sunday||5,008||1,622,344||8.69||24.60|
|The Sunday Telegraph||7,243||394,767||12.56||5.99|
|The Sunday Times||9,035||802,128||15.67||12.16|
The FoI response also provided the amount of money spent by the BBC on each newspaper.
The BBC spent the most money on the Telegraph titles (£100,835 overall). The Times titles, meanwhile, cost the broadcaster £97,577 together and the Independent newspapers £84,095.
Aside from the Sunday Sport, which cost £101 over the year, the least amount of money – £8,192 – was spent on the Star newspapers.
Ephraim Hardcastle, a Daily Mail diary column, today noted that while the Daily Mail is now the broadcaster's newspaper of choice, "the BBC paid more to buy 45,672 (£1.60) Guardians in 2014 (£63,061) than 78,463 Mails (£40,482)".
|Daily newspapers||Total spent, 2014||Sunday newspapers||Total spent, 2014|
|Daily Express||£21,134||Sunday Express||£5,154|
|Daily Mail||£40,482||The Mail on Sunday||£9,319|
|Daily Star||£6,830||Daily Star Sunday||£1,362|
|The Daily Telegraph||£89,069||The Sunday Telegraph||£11,766|
|The Guardian||£63,061||The Observer||£17,076|
|The Sun||£22,730||The Sun on Sunday||£2,807|
|The Independent||£73,175||The Independent on Sunday||£10,920|
|The Times||£78,825||The Sunday Times||£18,752|
|Daily Mirror||£28,269||Sunday Mirror||£5,205|
|Financial Times||£83,061||Sunday People||£2,647|
A BBC spokesperson said: “The largest number of newspapers delivered come from News UK. As an impartial international news broadcaster with three rolling TV news channels, 28 foreign language services, daily paper reviews as well as various radio and TV current affairs programmes our viewers rightly expect our presenters, journalists and expert contributors to be across all the day’s stories in all the UK newspapers.
“The BBC has secured a discount through its service contract ensuring value for money.”