SYDNEY: Newspaper circulations in Australia continue to fall at double digit-rates as people turn to their smartphones, but the decline in magazine sales may be stabilising, according to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC).

Fairfax, the publisher, saw the Monday-Friday figures for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age drop 17% and 16% respectively in the second quarter. Rival publisher News Limited's titles fared slightly better with The Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun down 11% and 10% respectively.

Justin Diddams, media analyst Citibank, said that smartphone penetration was growing as print circulations declined.

"The correlation is stark," he told B&T, as he referred to "an acceleration in the structural decline in newspapers."

Fairfax Media's managing director of Australian Publishing Media, Allen Williams, was upbeat, however, as he extolled his newspapers' new compact format.

"Going compact was all about providing our customers with a reader friendly format, delivering more impactful solutions for advertisers, and rescaling our printing operations for efficiency gains," he said.

"The proof our strategy is working is that circulation revenues and yield per copy for our metropolitan mastheads are up on last year," he added.

The picture was less gloomy for magazines, as analysis from the Fusion Strategy agency indicated an 8.4% decline in the circulation of weeklies and a 1.5% fall in monthlies after adjusting for closures since the March quarter.

It suggested that while the "audit is once again not kind to magazines", the market may finally have "bottomed out" in terms of the rate of audience decline.

Nicole Sheffield, NewsLifeMedia chief executive, said ABC figures "now only tell part of our story", adding that the launch of a new readership survey, EMMA (Enhanced Media Metrics Australia), would paint a more accurate picture for the industry.

EMMA is based on rolling telephone and online surveys that ask respondents about what they have read the previous day rather than the current offering which relies on quarterly face-to-face surveys asking what people have read in the previous week.

Data sourced from B&T, Ad News; additional content by Warc staff