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Life IS local ABC figures show

For the third consecutive year more than half of all regional newspaper titles have sold more copies, with 61% of weekly titles enjoying a year-on-year increase.

Newspaper Society marketing director, Chris Stanley, said: “As media choice continues to grow and audiences fragment, it is heartening to see how over half of local newspapers continue to add sale.

“Life is local and this performance underlines that fact.”

For the seventh consecutive ABC period, weekly newspapers – the largest sector with almost 400 eligible ABC titles – have shown positive growth. A total of 61% of titles increased circulation in the period from January to June 2000 compared with 59% in the period from July to December 1999.

The Malton and Pickering Mercury saw a massive 89.9% growth, followed by the Islington Gazette (+19.7%) and Hunts Post Series (+16.2%).

Les Heath, Chief Sub of the Malton and Pickering Mercury, said: “We have renamed and revamped the paper and that alone has virtually doubled our circulation.”

The paper’s circulation is recorded at 2,943.

Mr Heath added that the paper’s publication date had been changed from a Saturday to a Wednesday and a campaign it launched to excavate a Roman fort had been well-supported by readers.

“The fact that we are getting results shows what a good team we have here,” he said.

On the Islington Gazette, where circulation is now 18,457, general manager Tony Portelli said: “This year the amount of editorial content has increased and we have worked hard to strengthen our links with the local community. The whole team should be very proud.

“Our campaign to have an Angel statue erected at the Angel Islington has particularly captured the public’s imagination.

Regional evenings – the second largest category with 72 titles in ABC – saw 24% of their titles increase sales, slipping back slightly year-on-year by 2.4% overall. Seventeen titles in this sector increased circulation including the Wigan Evening Post (+2.7%) and the Colchester Evening Gazette (+2.0%).

Irene Kettle, editor of the Colchester title where circulation is 28,976, said: “We have a fantastic team here and I’m delighted that their efforts have been rewarded with an increase in ABC figures. We’ve got exciting plans for the future and with such dedicated staff, anything is possible.”

Only 18% of all morning titles increased circulation. Strongest performances came from the Paisley Daily Express (+14.4%) and The Scotsman (+6%) followed by Irish News (+2.7%). The circulation of Sunday titles remained static.

A total of 1,209 regional newspaper titles are included in the latest regional press ABC/VFD data for the first six months of this year. For the first time ever the figures show “actively purchased” figures.

This classification, which has been used in consumer magazine sales figures since July 1998, describes copies which consumers have decided to acquire and pay for as opposed to bulk sales which are paid for but might never actually be read.

The aggregate sale across all ABC-audited regional titles shows a marginal decrease of 2.1%. This figure includes large daily and Sunday regional newspapers which are reported by ABC as national newspapers – The Scotsman, Daily Record, London’s Evening Standard, Scotland on Sunday and the Sunday Mail, Glasgow.

For the vast majority of all newspapers, well over 90% of copies were “actively purchased”.

The biggest free newspaper in the country is still the Manchester Metro News with a distribution of 301,757 copies, an average pagination of 91 and an average of 35% editorial content.

The Glaswegian is the second biggest and Nottingham & Long Eaton Topper the third.

According to VFD, around 27.7 million free weekly newspapers are delivered across the UK every week.

Research by the Newspaper Society shows that more than 85% of regional newspapers now publish on the internet and many are now in the process of developing third generation websites.

According to ABC Electronic, the Belfast Telegraph attracted more than 1.6 million page impressions during March 2000. Meanwhile the regional press-backed Fish4 branded sites of jobs, homes, cars, business directory and news collectively generated more than 9.7 million page impressions in July 2000 alone.

Mr Stanley added: “All mainstream media are struggling to maintain audience share, with individual titles, stations or channels inevitably delivering smaller audiences. The circulation figures also reflect the fact that, compared to last year, there are an extra four million copies of free newspapers in the market each week, inevitably diluting the need to buy a newspaper.

“Meanwhile regional publishers’ online activities are attracting around 100 million page impressions every month. We are still the prime news and information source in the UK but people are accessing us through a growing range of channels.”

  • Tables and information ranking the top regional titles by circulation size and growth are available on the Society’s website: click here along with aPDF version of the review book Concurrent Release ABC Regional Newspaper Data (January-July 2000)and Concurrent ReleaseVFD Regional Newspaper Data (January to July 2000).

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