Revealed: the most-bought newspapers by the BBC in 2020

Times overtakes Guardian as most popular newspaper bought by the BBC

BBC building

The BBC bought more copies of The Times than any other newspaper in 2020, Press Gazette has learned.

A freedom of information request to the BBC revealed that more than 52,000 copies of the publication were purchased, equivalent to 144 copies per day.

As of last year, News UK stopped sharing its circulation figures with the Audit Bureau of Circulations however, as of the last report (shared in March 2020) The Times was the seventh-highest selling UK-wide national newspaper, putting it around mid-table.

News UK titles accounted for the largest number of newspapers delivered to the BBC which included 45,897 copies of The Sun , 6,476 copies of the Sunday Times and 4,359 copies of the Sun on Sunday.

The Times is also the most popular paper purchased by the public broadcaster in 2021 so far.  Almost 29,000 copies were delivered to the BBC as of 31 July 2021 - 137 copies a day.

The figures include newspapers purchased under the BBC’s managed service arrangement for use by the corporations’ News and Current Affairs teams as well as those working in the Nations division. Not included are newspapers delivered to BBC buildings by local newsagents, which means numbers could be higher.

A combined 498,472 newspapers were purchased under the BBC’s managed service agreement in 2020, including national titles, local titles, international papers and specialist publications such as newspapers aimed at religious communities.

National titles made up by far the largest share of copies purchased (413,060 - 83%). This was followed by local titles (48, 920 - 9%) and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish titles (30,749 - 6%). International and specialist titles accounted for just over 1% of newspapers bought under the managed services agreement.

A freedom of information request made to the BBC in 2016 found that for the 2015 calendar year, The Guardian was the most popular paper purchased by the corporation. Overall, fewer copies of leading UK-wide titles were purchased in 2020 (394,301) than 2015 (541,717) - a fall of 27%.

“The number of newspapers we purchase varies according to business need and our contract allows us to adapt this so we always ensure best value for money,” said a BBC spokesperson.

The supplier contract allows for teams to change or suspend the number of papers required on a daily basis according to business need. The organisation confirmed it reduced the number of hard copies purchased during the pandemic to reflect the number of people working from home.

Comments

4 thoughts on “Times overtakes Guardian as most popular newspaper bought by the BBC”

  1. “Not included are newspapers delivered to BBC buildings by local newsagents, which means numbers could be higher.” Surely that, plus other sources such as individual staff bringing their own copies into work, means they are definitely higher than these surprisingly low figures. But the BBC could get papers free with a Waitrose loyalty card.

  2. Presumably the ‘copies per day’ numbers for Sunday papers are a daily average, i.e. approximately a seventh of the average number bought by the BBC each week. Even so, the numbers seem very low.

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