US Newspaper Sales Still Under Pressure

03 November 2004

US newspaper sales are still in the doldrums, according to the latest figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

In the six month period to September aggregated circulations fell 0.9% to 47,711,751 for the 841 daily papers surveyed. Sunday papers saw a fall of 1.5% in their sales figures.

The depleted numbers are, however, not surprising following recent admissions by four well-known newspapers that they had illicitly 'beefed up' their reader numbers [WAMN: 14-Oct-2004].

As a result of the ensuing scandal newspaper companies have become ultra-conservative in their counting of paid readership. They have also been hampered by new federal restrictions on telemarketing.

Among the major players in the market, the Washington Post reported a fall of 3% in its average weekday circulation and 1.8% on Sundays.

USA Today and The New York Times, on the other hand saw their respective circulations rise by 2.8% and 0.2%. But the outright winner in the race to add reader numbers was News Corporation's New York Post whose average daily circulation rose by 5.2%.

Says Edward Atorino of research company Fulcrum Global Partners: "The downward trend in circulation is continuing, but it's not a major new downtrend."

Concurs John Sturm, chief executive of the Newspaper Association of America: "We see results that aren't a heck of a lot different from what we've seen over time."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff