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Some daily print circulations down 20pc as audience figures revealed

Four regional daily titles lost more than a fifth of their print circulation in the first half of 2019 according to figures compiled by HTFP.

The Leicester Mercury, Nottingham Post, Lancashire Telegraph and Cambridge News all saw their overall circulations drop by 20pc or more in the period January to June, although all four titles performed better when free copies and bulk sales were disregarded.

For the second year running, the Belfast-based Irish News was the best-performing UK title of those audited by ABC, losing just under 5pc of its circulation in the first six months of the year.

However Carlisle daily the News & Star, which like other Newsquest-owned titles is now audited by BPA Worldwide, saw its east edition print circulation fall by just 0.68pc making it the top performer across both auditing bodies.


Earlier this year, ABC announced it would no longer be publishing a six-monthly report on circulation figures for regional titles, saying it wants to get figures for individual titles published within five days of submission rather than wait for a particular date before publishing them en masse.

Meanwhile Newsquest announced it was pulling its titles out of ABC with effect from 1 April, and that future audits would be carried out by BPA.

Using figures available online from both organisations, HTFP has now put together the first comprehensive report bringing together all daily titles that continue to be audited on a six-monthly basis.

The list does not include any weekly titles as hardly any now report their figures six-monthly, with most having moved to annual auditing.

Apart from the Irish News, the best-performing daily titles in the ABC audit were the Paisley Daily Express, which saw its overall circulation drop 6pc, and the Dundee Courier and Manchester Evening News, both down 8pc.

The Press & Journal, Belfast Telegraph, East Anglian Daily Times and Eastern Daily Press were all down 9pc with every other daily listed recording a 10pc-plus drop.

Excluding bulks and free copies, the MEN was down 14.14pc, but the Derby Telegraph – which lost 18pc of its total circulation including bulks and frees – is down only 8pc in terms of single paid-for copies alone.

The Leicester Mercury and Nottingham Post were both down 27pc in terms of overall circulation, but 18pc and 12pc respectively when bulks and frees are excluded.

The officially-published BPA figures for Newsquest do not include a year-on-year comparison as this is the first time they have been audited by the new provider.

However when this year’s BPA-audited figures are compared with last year’s ABC-audited data, the best-performing titles are the News & Star and Brighton daily The Argus, whose overall circulation dropped just 2pc.

By contrast the Lancashire Telegraph was down 25pc year-on-year in terms of overall circulation, but when bulks and frees are excluded, sales of the Blackburn-based title dropped by 14.8pc.

The Bolton News, Worcester News and Bradford Telegraph and Argus all recorded single-digit declines when bulks and frees are disregarded.

The tables below include only daily titles which have reported figures on a six-monthly basis covering the period January to June 2019.

Almost all weekly titles now report annually, while a small number report them monthly.

Table 1.  Overall circulation January to June 2019

Title Jan-Jun 2019 % Change YoY
Irish News 31,995 -5%
Paisley Daily Express 4,121 -6%
Dundee Courier 31,544 -8%
Manchester Evening News 33,633 -8%
Press & Journal 41,689 -9%
Belfast Telegraph 32,538 -9%
East Anglian Daily Times 12,015 -9%
Eastern Daily Press 24,308 -9%
Lancashire Post 7,436 -11%
Yorkshire Post 18,534 -11%
Evening News 6,026 -11%
Birmingham Mail 13,606 -12%
Dundee Evening  Telegraph 10,918 -12%
News Letter 11,829 -12%
The Scotsman 14,938 -12%
The Sentinel, Stoke 19,476 -12%
Aberdeen Evening Express 18,266 -13%
Yorkshire Evening Post 8,951 -13%
Liverpool Echo 30,358 -13%
Newcastle Chronicle 17,974 -13%
The News, Portsmouth 12,832 -13%
Sheffield Star 11,910 -13%
Shropshire Star 18,891 -13%
South Wales Echo 10,942 -14%
Express & Star 36,276 -14%
South Wales Evening Post 14,283 -14%
Coventry Telegraph 9,754 -15%
Hull Daily Mail 18,559 -15%
Ipswich Star 5,107 -15%
Teesside Gazette 13,851 -15%
Plymouth Herald 11,479 -17%
The Post, Bristol 10,878 -17%
Derby Telegraph 13,810 -18%
Cambridge News 6,337 -21%
Leicester Mercury 15,460 -27%
Nottingham Post 10,890 -27%
BPA figures (Newsquest) *
Carlisle News and Star West 1,741 -1%
The Argus, Brighton 10,018 -2%
Carlisle News and Star East 4,467 -6%
The Bolton News 7,589 -8%
Worcester News 5,551 -8%
Telegraph & Argus, Bradford 10,363 -8%
The Mail, Barrow 4,869 -9%
The Press, York 10,743 -11%
Oxford Mail 8,141 -11%
Bournemouth Daily Echo 10,352 -11%
Southern Daily Echo 12,238 -12%
The Northern Echo 18,089 -12%
Swindon Advertiser 7,547 -12%
Dorset Echo 7,736 -12%
Colchester Daily Gazette 7,222 -14%
The Echo, Essex 13,902 -15%
South Wales Argus 8,110 -15%
Lancashire Telegraph 6,545 -25%
The Leader, Wrexham 5,698 N/A
* Comparison with ABC figures for Jan-Jun 2018.

Table 2. Single paid-for copies January to June 2019 (ie excluding bulks and frees)

Title Jan-Jun 2019 less bulks/frees % Change YoY
Irish News 31,814 -4.93
Paisley Daily Express 4,121 -5.87
Dundee Courier 31,323 -8.04
Derby Telegraph 13,516 -8.56
Press & Journal 41,359 -9.20
Eastern Daily Press 24,308 -9.26
East Anglian Daily Times 12,015 -9.41
Ipswich Star 5,107 -9.61
Evening News 6,026 -10.92
The Sentinel, Stoke 19,455 -10.96
The Scotsman 12,200 -11.20
Lancashire Post 7,436 -11.41
Yorkshire Post 17,276 -11.52
News Letter 11,704 -11.66
Birmingham Mail 13,574 -11.67
Dundee Evening  Telegraph 10,875 -11.95
Belfast Telegraph 23,547 -12.25
Liverpool Echo 30,310 -12.64
Sheffield Star 11,910 -12.80
Nottingham Post 10,789 -12.85
Aberdeen Evening Express 18,231 -13.01
The News, Portsmouth 12,819 -13.19
Yorkshire Evening Post 8,951 -13.28
Newcastle Chronicle 17,974 -13.40
Shropshire Star 18,057 -13.50
South Wales Echo 10,927 -13.61
Manchester Evening News 17,800 -14.14
South Wales Evening Post 14,202 -14.23
Teesside Gazette 13,851 -14.52
Coventry Telegraph 9,754 -14.72
Hull Daily Mail 18,518 -14.95
Express & Star 29,417 -16.96
Plymouth Herald 11,434 -16.98
Cambridge News 6,314 -17.64
The Post, Bristol 10,711 -17.72
Leicester Mercury 15,350 -18.17
BPA figures (Newsquest) *
Carlisle News & Star West 1,741 -0.68
The Bolton News 7,589 -7.07
Worcester News 5,551 -7.41
Telegraph & Argus, Bradford 9,963 -9.72
Bournemouth Daily Echo 10,352 -10.15
The Argus, Brighton 8,086 -10.30
Oxford Mail 8,106 -10.30
Southern Daily Echo 12,231 -10.49
The Northern Echo 18,089 -10.99
Dorset Echo 7,736 -11.08
Swindon Advertiser 7,200 -11.37
The Press, York 10,416 -11.51
The Mail, Barrow 4,668 -11.71
Carlisle News & Star East 4,136 -12.43
Colchester Daily Gazette 7,185 -12.70
The Echo, Essex 13,835 -13.40
Lancashire Telegraph 6,545 -14.81
South Wales Argus 7,525 -14.92
The Leader, Wrexham 5,698 N/A
* Comparison with ABC figures for Jan-Jun 2018.


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  • October 8, 2019 at 10:01 am

    The EDP dropping to a staggering 24,000 copies in a catchment of around 900,000 people must surely sound alarm bells and herald big changes for this once credible daily.
    Merging with the Norwich evening daily, going free or publishing online only must be the only options to save this title

    With the sale of the print centre resulting in papers being printed offsite and incurring costs it makes no business sense to continue printing papers so few are interested in buying any longer.
    Times have changed and change needs to happen if the EDP is to have any long term future.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 10:26 am

    @Taverham – printing off site and sub contracting will be saving them massive amounts of money. The vehicles, maintenance, diesel and replacing the fleet they had every few years alone will save them tens of thousands if not hundreds every year. Having gone through in house printing costs and sub contracting tenders I can tell you it’ll be way way cheaper especially minus dedicated staffing costs. Added to that the sale of the site and the fact that transport is done for peanuts in the free market now days I can easily imagine 7 figure sums are being saved across all titles.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 10:37 am

    The staggering decline just continues. Look at Leeds, a major thriving city with a huge catchment area selling less than 9,000 evening papers. Could someone enlighten me regarding advertising please? Papers still carry many adverts in print only. Have the rates dropped to mirror circulation, or are advertisers still paying similar rates to when papers sold ten times as many copies?

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  • October 8, 2019 at 10:43 am

    I appreciate that @Formerloyalfollower and your points are correct, but this appears to be just another piece in the jigsaw which I feel heralds the complete withdrawal from newspaper publishing to focus fully on monetising digital news.
    The company has recently been given millions by Google to develop online only platforms so it’s naive to think newspapers will play much of a role going forward when sales are so bad and ad revenues show no signed of recovery.

    Whatever the cost implications it cannot be feasible to continue printing a paper bought by such a small percentage of the public any longer and which has sadly become a pale shadow of its once former self

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  • October 8, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Many of these titles must surely be in the ‘at risk’ category with loss upon loss so graphically evidenced each six months when the ABC reports come out.
    I doubt any of the big regional groups see printed newspapers continuing long term ( even short term in some cases) or in their forward plans so it must simply be a case of phasing them out either via a planned and assisted decline or by allowing them to be run into the ground losing sales until such time as costs outweigh the profitability of continuing ,which looking at some titles must be imminent.
    For papers such as the Eastern Daily Press to suffer yet another 9% copy sale loss and be down to selling less than 23,500 copies and with a similar 9% loss for the East Anglian Daily Times it makes me wonder just how bad things have to get before decisions on the futures of these papers or their format going forward are made.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    So since the last major redesign/relaunch of the Archant daily titles at the start of 2017, I make it that the four papers’ combined circulation has dropped from 69,350 to 47,456. If nothing else, this shows that while templated, uniform pages might be cheap and easy to produce, they may not be what the public wants to buy.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    The Yorkshire Evening Post is now selling fewer copies daily than the Scarborough Evening News was when JP (as it was) took that weekly in 2012 (by about 3-400 fewer copies a day according to these figures).

    The Sheffield Star is only a few hundred copies above what JP then told the Scarborough staff was the cut-off point for a daily paper to be viable.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    The reason I don’t buy my local paper anymore is nothing to do with the interwebs or social media or any of the nonsense that’s often put forward to excuse these types of results, I don’t buy it because it’s rubbish, I mean absolute garbage.

    Who’d have thought getting rid of two offices, a photographer, an editor, and cutting seven experiences staff to two – both of whom are sat at home at their own kitchen tables – would have such a big impact on the quality of the product.

    Oh yeah, everyone with a brain.

    The whole newspaper industry, sadly, has been filled to the brim with people at the top who didn’t care about it and didn’t value it. They were there to (mis) manage its decline and sought to plunder what they could from what they knew what would be a short tenure, be it spondulicks, bonuses or a brief uplift in personal reputation before getting out of dodge before it hit the fan. Then off to pastures new as CEO of Carphone Warehouse or wherever, leaving nothing but scorches Earth in their wake.

    It’s a true tragedy. I’ve worked in multiple industries and jobs, and have never encountered smarter, more intelligent, or fiercer people than I found in the local newspaper industry. Its destruction is a tragedy for wider society that I don’t think the public yet fully appreciate.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    A lot of it is down to a lack of leadership and vision by management and by ‘executive’ level journalists, who have been promoted above their abilities and are out of touch with the realities of the modern media world.
    If they had been that good, they would have seen it coming.
    They are as out of touch as the we-know-best Westminster bubble who did not see the Brexit vote coming.
    Newspaper managements must shoulder much of the blame as they have talked down the value of print over the years and are now reaping what they have sown.
    Sorry and all that but titles like JPI media will soon be re-named RIP Media.

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  • October 8, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Much has already been said about this and I can’t add much more apart from (and being a print lover) what a sad state of the times!

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  • October 8, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Most editors are sadly now “decline managers “…

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  • October 9, 2019 at 9:58 am

    How on earth does the Sentinel in little ole Stoke outsell the once mighty Birmingham Mail, with a million-plus population, by several thousand copies. It used to be said that the Mail lagged behind the likes of Manchester and Liverpool titles because it has the Express and Star for competition. Well, by that token, the Exp & Star has the Birmingham Mail for competition, yet it sells more than 36,000 to the Mail’s 13,600.

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  • October 9, 2019 at 10:01 am

    Jeff Jones – brilliant post. Please take the rest of the day off.

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  • October 9, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Some great and informed comment already.
    But an additional view, if I may. As the publishers slashed newsroom jobs, we saw the rise of the press officer and a stranglehold on news begin. Now, many papers simply cut and and paste press releases. The decline in quality and disengagement with communities has come as a new generation has grown up attached to phones, tablets and laptops. This is the generation that is divorced from ‘boring’, ‘negative’ news that they don’t feel involves them, So, the industry’s first efforts at internet news was tragically poor. Today, it’s tragically poor. But the bosses will trumpet sales declines in print as acceptable because of internet traffic, they will talk of the emphasis shifting and of great figures in the ether.
    The truth is, they have failed – the industry, communities, journalists, news and holding decision-makers to account.

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  • October 9, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Exactly that @JeffJones @saddenedJourno and @employee x

    The point about those responsible not being held to account is pertinent as some of those on whose watch this carnage has been allowed to happen (some might say they’ve actively encouraged by lack of investment or support for print while throwing everything at the elusive online dollar ) are still in the same positions recklessly carrying on unchecked and unhindered by those above and unquestioned by those below.

    These latest web stats and yesterday’s shocking ABC figures confirm what we already know, while the dismantling and decimation of print continues the monetising of digital news remains a myth.

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  • October 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    I really don’t see the point of someone being given the title ‘editor’ these days when the position has no clout or kudos,a papers content is templated and formulaic,the news agenda has more often than not been set, reported and seen previously on social media news sites as it happens which is then simply copy and pasted around generic non local space fillers in the local daily or associated web site.
    The Content Chief is the new Editor and the Editor is little more than a desk monitor, embarrassingly reduced to flogging football stickers on line in an effort to generate a little short term revenue, harsh but true, certainly where I am at least.

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  • October 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Such a bizarre way of looking at things. The best performers are those with the smallest percentage decline. At this rate some of these titles will have stopped selling anything within five years. If they aren’t making enough money off the web then they’ll be gone before then. The ones that survive will be those that offer something noone else does. That’s why the Irish News and the Press & Journal have held up much better by comparison than the big boys like the MEN or the Express and Star. The next stage is to go weakly in print. Sorry, I mean weekly. Or do I?

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  • October 10, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    One of the most startling figures is that of the Post in Bristol. Down 17% to 10711
    in the city and adjoining districts of South Gloucestershire and North Somerset where the total population approaches one million. One factor may be that the region has a strong hyperlocal presence. Another might be that the linked Bristol Live site one typical day contained one story from Hull, along with two restaurants and a rum bar opening (at least these were local).. Scarcely an incentive to buy a print copy. A third factor is that staff numbers are reduced to a level where they rely on media releases, emergency services news, court copy and social media to fill the pages and the web. It is the same story elsewhere it appears. Yet there seems to be no let up in the proliferation of journalism courses across the UK.

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