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