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Circulation down for all UK regional dailies

No regional daily titles in the UK saw their sales increase in the first half of this year, the latest ABC figures have shown.

The figures, which have been published this lunchtime, show the best-performing title in mainland Britain is the Western Morning News, where sales fell just 2.4pc year-on-year.

However, this was beaten by Channel Island titles the Jersey Evening Post and Guernsey Press and Star, which each saw their sales fall by just 1pc.

There were also creditable performances from the Basildon Echo where circulation fell 3.3pc, the Yorkshire Post which had a fall of 4.7pc and the Burton Mail at 4.8pc.

Today’s figures covering the period January to June saw just 14 paid-for newspapers increase their circulation year-on-year, all of them weekly titles.

But there was better news for publishing groups from the online ABCe figures which saw some newspaper websites grow their average daily audiences by upwards of 40pc.

The publication of circulation figures for Archant titles in Norfolk and Suffolk was delayed following the revelation last week that sales had been falsified, which saw Archant Anglia circulation director Don Williamson dismissed.

Its four regional dailies in the two counties were the only daily titles to post sales increases when the last ABC figures were published in February.

Many regional dailies saw double-digit sales falls, including the Nottingham Post with 13.3pc, the Blackpool Gazette with 13.1pc, Manchester Evening News with 13.2pc and the Leicester Mercury with 11.1pc.

A spokesman for MEN publisher Trinity Mirror said:  “The ongoing economic downturn continues to present challenges across the entire regional publishing industry. However, we continue to take actions to strengthen our brands across all platforms including our newspapers, websites and mobile sites.”

Other titles which saw large decreases in circulation included Staffordshire’s The Sentinel which was down 10.7pc, the Birmingham Mail,  down 10.5pc, the Bristol Post, down 11.9pc and the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star, where sales fell 11.4pc.

The Express & Star however remains Britain’s biggest selling regional daily with an average daily sale of 100,244 – the only title still selling above six figures.

The full list of circulation figures for UK regional daily titles can be seen here.

21 comments

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  • August 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm
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    This un joined up doom & gloom that fails to mention that nearly every title mentioned saw ABC audited web audiences up in the first half of the year, e.g. Blackpool Gazette up 14.2%; Manchester Evening News up 30%.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm
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    And just how much revenue is brought in by those increased web audiences?

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  • August 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm
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    Sorry Joby, but web audiences don’t pay the bills. Managements have to find ways of making the print product compelling. Cutting editorial resources is not the way to do it.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm
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    So the Manchester Evening News has 13.2 per cent fewer people buying actual physical copies of the paper, but they do have 30 per cent more people getting news from them for free?

    You’re right Joby, that’s not doom and gloom at all.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm
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    Joby but web audience don’t translate into hard cash like actual hard-copy readers.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm
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    Everyone else has said it but yet again we have another delusional soul banging on about web audiences … get it, they LOSE money, all of them and there is nothing to indicate they will ever stand alone.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm
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    The horse bolted on the free web news argument a long time ago. Joby doesn’t get it. It is doom because news isn’t free – someone has to pay for staff to publish and manage these websites – advertising doesn’t.
    There’s no such thing as free anything.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm
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    I wonder what would happen to print circulation if, say the Manchester Evening News, actually scrapped its website. Perhaps some of those currently getting their news free of charge might actually pay for it.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm
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    The thing which alarms me is the lack of new ideas … it just feels like the regionals tweak their model and continue to decline. I know that innovative ideas have been suggested to many papers but no one has the drive to take the big step.

    “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got”

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  • August 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm
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    Luddite, if the MEN scrapped their website, people would just go to other websites to get their news, or someone would take advantage of the vacuum and set one up and I bet it would have little impact on their circulation figures at all.

    Maybe your right someone should do it and maybe it would put the arguments to bed once and for all.

    All it would mean is that they will damage their web offering for the future and give an open goal to competitors.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm
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    I’d buy my local dailies every day – if anything in them was more than a stack of churned press releases or the never-ending splashes of death tragedies. As for campaigns, they usually have some financial backing to ensure the reporting is anything but unbiased. The only light at the end of the tunnel is that sport hasn’t suffered as badly, but it’s still a shadow of its former self.

    People expect news for free because that’s all it’s worth most of the time.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 4:02 pm
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    Doughnuts or newspapers… if the contents fail to satisfy, the sales go down.
    The business model for these papers, big groups chasing impossible revenue targets and with nowhere to go but to constantly cut costs, is not sustainable. It’s like the last days of the Roman Empire.

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  • August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm
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    The ship is sinking.

    But never fear, the management visionaries in charge of our business have discovered a new-fangled gadget to save us all.

    Some say tis called “The Interweb” and tis possessed of magical powers that shall enable them to make piles of money while costing not one penny in pesky investment costs, such as staff.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 10:03 am
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    Nothing personal Joby, but your delight over web increase is typical of management thinking too.
    Yes, digital income will increase in percentage terms (from a low base) and newspapers should have good websites.
    But people who haven’t got their head in space web realise sites are never going to make really good income.
    Meanwhile firms mess up the biggest money earners, newspapers.
    That graph spells disaster to any accountant, let alone journo.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 11:11 am
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    Commonsenser … spot on.

    Yet there are still lemmings who believe that the answer is digital … digital is the problem, not the solution.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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    It is becoming increasingly obvious that the regional newspaper is simply an idea that is literally past its sell-by date. The circulation losses at papers like the Manchester Evening News are simply unsustainable in the medium to long term. It also seems increasingly unlikely that products based around the web are never going to raise sufficient advertising revenue to replace even the dwindling revenues of the print product.
    For far too long – 20 years at least – managements have been far too complacent about the challenges they faced. It was much easier to rely on a model where dwindling revenues were topped up with rises in advertising rates and cover prices, than to face the problem head on. They even blew the golden bonus of new technology, which allowed them to throw off the expensive shackles of the print unions. Furthermore, they allowed their lucrative classified business to fall into the hands of web buccaneers, with only the most rudimentary attempts to hold onto a revenue stream that was so vital for the survival of the regional press.
    Then, once forced to face the problem, they acted with unerring predictability by slashing staff and embarking on increasingly ridiculous schemes to cut their production costs.
    The result is, almost without exception, inferior products that are being deserted by an increasing numbers of their customers.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 12:57 pm
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    Sadly – it appears to be yet another nail in the ……
    No body seems to have any idea as to what to do.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm
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    How right you are Sutler. For years managements have been whittling away at the product….reducing page sizes by a centimetre here and there (the punter will never notice), cutting pagination, printing on lower quality paper, cutting back on print runs, reducing staff, paying them less, centralising and getting rid of the more expensive people who can do the job the best.
    And putting up the cover price and the ad rates every year as well. It continues to be a short-sighted recipe for disaster and the readers will continue to desert the product in droves, especially as we are giving it away for free on the web and re-designing the print product in a format people won’t like or want.

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  • August 30, 2012 at 1:52 pm
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    There is a lot of merit in what is said here by all the contributors. The recession is a big factor. 80p for a local paper of a loaf of bread? Local papers can recover and live alongside the non-money making websites providing they give their readers stuff they want. There is greater scope for all paid local papers to go free or hybrid in order to penetrate their markets more successfully. It’s up to the editors and the journlaists to make the product relevant and readable. There is no point in whining…

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  • August 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm
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    I find the comments on here worrying (and predictable).

    If there’s still so much anti-web sentiment in newsrooms then we’re in even worse trouble than it seems.

    Like it or not, print’s going out the window and online is the future. How many 20-somethings does anyone know that actually buy a paper?

    And they’re the future. The people who live their lives on their phones. So that’s where we need to go. So for all the nay-sayers, get with the programme.

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  • September 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm
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    The product isn’t newspapers; it’s information, and that’s all too often lacking, from websites as well as papers (inevitably, since it’s the same content). My old (Northcliffe) paper’s website had an advert for batteries as its sixth news story the other day. Someone just emailed it in and there it was, untouched (one assumes) by human hand; if someone actually selected it, I despair. It still has one of those fatuous yes/no polls on its home page asking people if they’re going to turn out for the Olympic torch relay; down here, that happened in May, for those who remember back that far. About half the stories on the news pages are actually readers’ letters, presumably picked automatically because they get more comments than the so-called news. It’s all very well saying the future’s digital, but if the websites are even shoddier than the papers, as they generally are down yur in the Wild West, because there are no resources and, more importantly, no understanding among our lords and masters of how to do it properly (or even adequately) any future is entirely hypothetical. Hold your nose; here comes the tsunami of UGC.

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