Regional newspaper ABC circulation round-up

By Sarah Lagan, Dominic Ponsford, Colin Crummy and Lou Thomas

The latest set six-month ABC reveal that only one of Britain’s 80-odd evening newspapers put on sales in the second half of 2005: the Belfast Telegraph, up 2.5 per cent.

The Belfast broadsheet is still feeling the benefits of launching a tabloid morning edition a year ago. The Birmingham Mail reported a 11.9 per cent plunge in circulation to 80,780 following its £1 million plus relaunch in October, almost 2 per cent bigger than the drop in the period before the money was spent.

Editor Steve Dyson told Press Gazette in February that a loss was expected inpart due to increased free sample copies but that the relaunch was “firmly on course”. The Newcastle Chronicle has now comfortably overtaken the Mail’s circulation at 81,253.

Other big city papers suffered with the Manchester Evening News down five per cent and the Liverpool Echo down four per cent. Decline in the Scottish papers was less dramatic with the Glasgow Evening Times down four per cent the Edinburgh Evening News 6.5 and the Aberdeen Evening Express down just 1.8 per cent.

The paid-for weeklies have been the success story of the regional press in recent years but showed a surprisingly slump in the last ABC audit six months ago.

This time around the situation seems to have worsened.

Press Gazette analysis of the ABC figures shows that just 105 paid for weekly titles increased their circulation year-on-year in the last six months of 2005. Some 313 titles went down.

Among the success stories were the Worksop Guardian, up 17.4 per cent to 18,124, and the Norfolk-based Beccles and Bungay Journal up 9.1 per cent to 7,445.

Looking at the Sundays, The Sunday World put in a strong performance in the ABCs with its Northern Irish edition going up five per cent year-on-year, despite a Loyalist paramilitary campaign of intimidation against the title last summer. The red-top’s circulation went up to 66,162 in Northern Ireland and up 0.4 per cent year-on-year with its Irish edition, to 206,142.

Both Ireland on Sunday and the Sunday Tribune went down over 10 per cent year-on-year, selling 127,399 and 71,808 copies respectively. The Sunday Independent comfortably held its position as the biggest Sunday title in Ireland with 286,613 copies sold, down 1.6 per cent year on year. In England, all three Sunday titles were down year on year. The Sentinel Sunday and Sunday Mercury both went down over 12 per cent and Newcastle’s Sunday Sun was down 5.7 per cent to 75,499. Wales on Sunday was down 0.7 per cent, selling 47,724 copies while the Scottish Sunday Post sold 468,414 copies, down 5.9 per cent.

The Birmingham Post and Ulster’s News Letter were the only morning regional titles in the UK to buck the downward trend in circulation. The Post’s first ABC since a major re-launch showed a year-on-year rise of 1.5 per cent to 13,002, while the News Letter managed a rise of 0.7 per cent to 28,616.

Welsh title The Western Mail faired the best of the rest, having only dropped 0.7 per cent down to 42,956. The worst decrease was at the Liverpool Daily Post, where circulation dropped 7.2 per cent to 18,741. The Daily Ireland, the only new paper to appear in the sector, had a first ABC figure of 10,017.

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