Newspaper owners find solace in Asia

5 August 2010
PARIS: Consumers in India, China and Japan remain attached to newspapers but print media faces tough times elsewhere, according to The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

According to a report from the trade body, covering 233 countries and territories, daily paid-for circulation declined by 0.8% in 2009 to 517 million copies, although it has climbed by 5.7% since 2005.

Overall, 61% of the nations featured in the report delivered totals that were either stable or improved last year, and 68% had experienced a similar trend from the middle of the decade.

North America generated a drop of 3.4% in 2009 and is off by 10.6% since 2005, figures that stood at 5.6% and 7.9% in Europe, and 1.5% and 5.6% respectively in Australia and Oceania.

Conditions in emerging markets have proved considerably more favourable, as Africa posted an increase of 4.8% last year and 30% in the longer term.

Asia enjoyed an uptick of 1% in 2009 and growth of 13% in the five year period.

But results were mixed in South America, down by 4.6% annually and up by 7.9% from 2005 to the present.

When freesheets are added to the equation, circulation contracted by 1.7% last year, and has jumped by 7.7% in five years.

These advertiser-funded publications now account for 20% of circulation in Europe, 11% in South America, 9% in Australia and Oceania and 7% in North America.

The study also estimated that 1.7bn people read a newspaper every day, equivalent to 25% of adults across the globe.

If taken to include offerings that are not produced on a daily basis, the reach of this medium rises to 37%.

India is the largest consumer of newspapers with 110m copies being sold each day, ahead of China on 109m, Japan on 50m, the US on 46m, and Germany on 20m.

More specifically, 67 of the 100 most popular daily titles are based in Asia, according to the WAN-IFRA research.

Less positively, adspend through this channel declined by 17% worldwide last year as brand owners slashed marketing budgets during the financial crisis.

Companies reduced their outlay by 25% in North America, 18.7% in Central and Eastern Europe, 13.7% in Western Europe, 9.6% in Asia and 2.9% in Latin America.

As such, the Middle East and Africa was the only area where demand was consistent year-on-year.

Measured against 2005, ad sales are down by 17.9%, with North America plummeting by 33%, Western Europe by 15% and Asia by 5.4%.

Latin America has experienced an increase of 46.5%, followed by Central and Eastern Europe on 1.1%, while the Middle East and Africa have seen little change.

This left newspapers on a share of 24% in 2009, behind TV on 39% and in front of the internet on 12%.

Despite the rising popularity of the web and the advent of media consumption tools like the iPad, the study argued that "at no time in the foreseeable future will digital advertising revenues replace those lost to print."

"Mobile news delivery appears to hold more promise for newspapers than traditional internet delivery," it added, as consumers are typically prepared to pay for content on their phones.

Data sourced from WAN-IFRA; additional content by Warc staff
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