Some Observations on the Effects of Newsprint Rationing (19391959) on the Advertising Media

Harry Henry
Visiting Professor of Marketing Communications,
Cranfield School of Management

Newsprint rationing was introduced in the United Kingdom almost immediately after the outbreak, in 1939, of the Second World War. It was an inevitable consequence of the enemy blockade, for newsprint is essentially an imported product; although in those days about twothirds of consumption was homeproduced (only about a quarter is now, but that is another story) most of the pulp from which it is made originates abroad, so that it comes to the same thing. Domestic consumption of newsprint dropped from one and a quarter million tonnes in 1938 to half a million in 1940 and a quarter of a million in 1942, at around which level it continued for the rest of the war.

However, the end of hostilities did not see anything like a return to normal: though the Uboat menace had ceased, other considerations (including the balance of payments) led successive governments to continue newsprint rationing for another 15 years, and it was not until 1959 that it was finally abolished. As can be seen from Figure 1, the consequence was that not until 1960 did consumption revert to its prewar level.