LONDON: The latest UK Audit Bureau of Circulations' newspaper sales data make grim reading for most titles, especially top-selling daily rivals, NewsCorp's The Sun, and the Daily Mirror, published by Britain's largest newspaper firm Trinity Mirror.

Despite cover price cuts, The Sun, which in its glory days sold 4.3m units daily, fell below the three million mark for the first time since 1974; while a month-on-month decline of 3% dragged the Mirror to a historic sales low of under 1.5m.

With the razor-sharp insight we have come to expect from business analysts, Douglas McCabe of Enders put his finger on the problem in a flash: "This is about large numbers of people declining to buy these papers," he deduced.

The latest circulation figures are, he believes, "psychological barriers, but I think they accelerate the arrival of the day when one of these two papers - probably The Sun - will decide to go free".

And given the widely publicized thinking of that paper's proprietor, McCabe could well be right.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff