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East Anglian dailies buck declining circulation trend

East Anglia is continuing to hold out against the national trend of circulation decline as today’s ABC figures saw all four of the region’s daily newspapers posting increases.

The Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News, Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times all saw their average daily circulation rise year-on-year in the second half of 2011, although all four titles gave away some free copies.

However no other regional daily titles in the UK saw sales increase over the period, with significant falls for some of the big-city dailies.

The Nottingham Post saw its circulation slump by 17.1pc, The Journal, Newcastle was down 11.3pc, the Express & Star 10.9pc, the Leicester Mercury 10.4pc and the Sunderland Echo 10.3pc.

Today’s figures saw the second rise in succession for the EDP and the Evening News, which also posted circulation increases in the last set of figures published in August.

The Evening News saw its circulation up 7.5pc, the EDP 0.7pc, the Evening Star 0.4pc and the EADT 0.3pc.

However none of the four titles are classified as 100pc paid-for by the ABC, with up to a fifth of their circulations coming from free giveaways.

According to today’s figures, the Evening Star sold 8opc of its copies, the Evening News 81pc, and the EDP and the EADT 89pc.

If bulk copies are excluded, the best-performing regional daily title in the UK would appear to be the Western Morning News, which sold 99.6pc of its copies and registered a circulation decrease of 1pc.

Its editor Alan Qualtrough commented: ” ‘Is bulking real sales? I thought this practice was abandoned long ago. The Western Morning News is 99.6pc actively sold, which according to my elementary maths, makes it the best performing title.”

However Archant editors were delighted with their own titles’ performances which saw the Evening News top the league table of circulation increases for the third six-month period on the trot.

Editor Tim Williams said: “We are very proud to have recorded a second consecutive six-monthly increase in sales on the Norwich Evening News. It shows that by focusing on local, community news and value for money we can continue to deliver a lively and informative newspaper for our readers and advertising customers.”

EDP editor Peter Waters added: “This is another great performance for the country’s biggest-selling regional morning newspaper. It’s a tribute to the hard-working editorial team who put together a first-class product every day and the newspaper sales team who ensure the EDP reaches our mostly-rural county.

“At a time when the Leveson Inquiry is unearthing some unpalatable truths about sections of the national media, the fact we have got a third consecutive ABC increase says a lot about our responsible, trusted journalism, the way we respectfully engage with our customers, and the way we campaign on behalf of our region.”

Terry Hunt, editor of the East Anglian Daily Times said: “We are delighted with the sales growth, at what we all know is a very difficult time economically. Our team works very hard to produce a relevant and informative local newspaper six days a week, and this performance is a great reward for those efforts.”

And Nigel Pickover of the Ipswich Star added: “Everyone at The Star is bursting with pride at our sales increase, which caps a great few days for us. Our paper, which last week was named the Eastern region’s Daily Newspaper of the Year, is a strong, vibrant, power-packed product.”

Archant chief executive Adrian Jeakings said: “We are delighted with our success in growing circulation in each of our daily titles and the majority of our weeklies in today’s ABC release.

“We have achieved this through investing in understanding what our readers want, producing great content that our readers want to read and by marketing, selling and distributing our papers well.”


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  • February 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Let’s cut to the quick. In Jul-Dec 2010, the EDP had an average daily sale of 58,364 copies if you ignore free and bulk copies. In Jul-Dec 2011, the figure was 53,548. Would you really deem this a circulation increase???

    I imagine it’s much the same picture with the other Archant dailies.

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  • February 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Well done!. I notice editors falling over themselves in print to claim credit when results are good, not so when sales are down and the poor old circulation manager is usually left to carry the can.

    I hope Don Williamson get some of the credit, I taught him most of what he knows!

    Good result

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  • February 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Once again, the Archant eds quoted in your story very conveniently confuse “sales” with free copies stacked in places like fast food joints and dance studios, or given away at railway stations. Presumably they have the facts before them, so there’s really no excuse for the self-delusion and spin.
    The eds will also know that many of the papers remain untouched in their stacks so even claiming these as “circulation” stretches the point somewhat.
    They are not bad papers at all, from what I have seen, but it’s a shame they choose to crow about phantom sales increases when the rest of the industry prefers to tell it like it is.
    Despite the predictable headlines again on htfp, readers, advertisers and the industry in general will not be fooled.

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  • February 29, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    ‘greed with this, I walked past a woman trying to give copies of the Evening News away for free recently and everyone was ignoring her.

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  • March 2, 2012 at 10:54 am

    THIS admission of “churnalism” by Roy Greenslade is so devastating to the Archant claims of sales success that it deserves to be repeated in full on this website.

    FACT: Underlying the Archant figures are sales drops that in some cases are worse than the industry standard.

    Roy blogs on the Guardian website:
    I have been taken to task (along with my colleague Mark Sweney) for reporting on the ABC circulation success of Archant’s newspapers without referring to their bulk sales (see here and here).

    Commenter neworder – who also emailed me privately – wrote: “Archant’s headline figure is all about bulks bulks bulks. Take them out and you see their performance is indeed no better and sometimes worse than the rest.”

    He was backed up by suffolkhack who reported a plethora of “free Archant titles” being available in McDonalds outlets in Suffolk and Norfolk while OldReporter told of copies of the East Anglian Daily Times being given away at Colchester station.

    Fair points. So let’s test those complaints with a closer look at the statistics for the final six months of 2011.

    The headline sales average over that period recorded by the East Anglian Daily Times was 29,772. Of these, 1,905 were bulks and a further 1,299 were “free pick-up copies”.

    That reduces the genuine sale to 26,568. Then I looked back to the same period in 2010 to discover that the paper sold 28,851 copies. So the real sale was down by 7.9%. Score one for the complainers.

    Moving on to the EADT’s Ipswich sister, the Evening Star. Its genuine, full-price average sale. July-December 2011, was 12,526. That compared with 14,034 in 2010, a drop of 10.7%. Score two for the complainers.

    The Norwich-based Eastern Daily Press sold 53,548 a day in the final half year 2011 once the bulks are stripped out. Yet, in the same period in 2010, it sold 58,364. That’s an 8.25% fall. Score three for the complainers.

    Finally, the Norwich Evening News, which boasted a 7.5% year-on-year increase. But once the bulks are removed we discover that it sold 15,399 copies at full price compared to 17,839 before. That’s a decrease of 13.7%. Score four for the complainers. A full house indeed.

    I can’t speak for Mr Sweney, but I know I’ll be taking Archant’s PR claims with a pinch of salt when the next set of ABC figures are posted.

    Its quartet of “successful” titles turn out to be no such thing. The story is the same in each case – extra bulks have compensated, indeed over-compensated, for falls in genuine over-the-counter sales.

    I joked that there must be something in the water in East Anglia that was helping Archant defy the national trend by posting circulation rises.

    Now the mystery is solved, so thanks first to neworder and note to self: must do better.

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  • March 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This is the fourth par of the following story:

    The Nottingham Post saw its circulation slump by 17.1pc, The Journal, Newcastle was down 11.3pc, the Express & Star 10.9pc, the Leicester Mercury 10.4pc and the Sunderland Echo 10.3pc.

    Below is the worst performing titles:

    Sunderland Echo & Football Echo 30,654 -10.3%
    Leicester Mercury 48,457 -10.4%
    Scunthorpe Telegraph 14,414 -10.4%
    Aberdeen Evening Express 44,038 -10.6%
    Oldham Evening Chronicle 13,640 -10.7%
    Express & Star 104,262 -10.9%
    Yorkshire Evening Post 34,851 -10.9%
    Edinburgh Evening News 37,250 -11.2%
    The Journal 24,106 -11.3%
    The Leader (North Wales & Chester) 15,497 -11.6%
    Shropshire Star 51,240 -11.8%
    Liverpool Daily Post 7,652 -13.7%
    Doncaster Star 2,111 -15.1%
    Nottingham Post 33,940 -17.2%

    So why draw attention to Sunderland Echo and Leicester Mercury and not the likes of the Shropshire Star and Yorkshire Evening Post, who did worse?


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