LONDON: Private Eye, the fortnightly satirical magazine, has emerged as the most-read news and current affairs title in the UK, according to the latest circulation figures.

In its report covering the first half of 2017, the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) said Private Eye’s circulation was 249,927 per issue, representing 8.6% year-on-year growth.

At the same time, the Economist was up 5% in the UK to 248,196 while Prospect witnessed circulation growth of 37% to 44,545, the Guardian reported.

Even though The Week reported a 1.1% fall in circulation, the Guardian said the overall ABC figures suggest consumers are turning to news and current affairs titles as they look to “digest Brexit preparations and the presidency of Donald Trump”.

TV Choice, with a circulation of 1.2m, was the magazine with the biggest readership in the UK, putting it well ahead of rivals What’s on TV and Radio Times, which had a circulation of 622,773.

Apart from the growing popularity of selected news titles, another notable finding in the ABC figures was the steep decline of women’s weekly magazines, which dropped almost 11% compared to the same period last year.

Look magazine, owned by Time Inc., suffered a 35% drop in circulation to 58,561 over the last 12 months while Now, also owned by Time Inc., fell almost 21% to 84,588.

According to Campaign, other women’s weekly titles to suffer included Closer, Woman and Heat, which all saw double-digit circulation falls in the first six months of this year.

Glamour, Condé Nast’s most popular title, declined by 8.2% year-on-year to 248,879, while Vogue was down 2.6% to 126,290, and GQ fell 2.6% year-on-year to 95,636.

Commenting on the broader implications for the UK magazine sector, Steve Goodman, Managing Director of Print Trading at GroupM, told Campaign that agencies may have to re-evaluate their traditional approach to free copies.

“Historically, magazines and newspapers have been reluctant to give away too many free copies because they’re not recognised by ABC or agencies were very reluctant to put a value against those free copies,” he said.

“[But] when you look at the numbers today, the publications that have done okay have had a different way of distribution or significant element of free,” he added.

“So this issue is looking at different ways to get copies in people’s hands and maybe ensuring agencies are prepared to accept that free copies or low cost copies are valuable to their clients.”

Data sourced from ABC, Guardian, Campaign; additional content by WARC staff