National and metro newspapers in biggest ever decline

Australia’s metro and national newspapers have had the worst circulation result in their history, with every paper in the country except for two in decline.

Newspaper Works – the marketing body for the industry – claimed the Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers were “firm”, and blamed the falls on “a patchy economy, skittish consumer behaviour and rising interest rates”.

Fairfax Media’s The Australian Financial Review was worst hit in the last three months with a fall of around 10% for both its Monday to Friday and Saturday editions compared to a year ago. The rate of decline for the AFR increased compared to its 9.7% fall in figures released three months ago.  

Its daily national rival The Australian, owned by News Ltd, was down 4% on weekdays and 2.6% for its Saturday edition.

Meanwhile, Fairfax also has the hardest hit metro paper, with the Sun-Herald in Sydney declining by 6.6% to 442,357. Its News Ltd rival the Sunday Telegraph was down 3.2% to 632,009 copies.

The worst performing daily metro was the Canberra Times, which was down 4.7%.

The only papers to stray into positive territory were in Melbourne, where the Saturday edition of the Herald Sun put on 1000 copies or 0.2% and The Sunday Age which grew by 0.7%.

Despite being PANPA’s newspaper of the year, Sydney’s Morning Herald narrowly failed to avoid decline with a fall of just 364 copies for its weekday edition.

Newspaper Works today released its own analysis of newspaper numbers pointing out they are no worse than they were ten years ago.

Boss Tony Hales said: “Australians are still buying these printed broadsheets in virtually the same numbers as 10 years ago, which is remarkable in light of the changing media landscape and at a time when the doomsayers have been predicting the demise of newspapers thanks to the rise of the internet.”

However, it is worth noting that Australia’s population has grown by about 17% in the last decade.

Hales added: “Every week Australians are still buying 15.2 million metropolitan newspapers – this is a phenomenal number in a country with a population as relatively small as ours.”

Audit Bureau of Circulations – Newspaper circulation:

Title Publisher Q4 2009 Q4 2008 % Change
AFR (Mon-Fri) Fairfax Media 77,470 86,158 -10.08%
AFR (Sat) Fairfax Media 84,528 93,800 -9.88%
SUN-HERALD Fairfax Media 442,357 473,469 -6.57%
CANBERRA TIMES (Sat) News Ltd 55,000 58,735 -6.36%
CANBERRA TIMES (Sun) News Ltd 33,000 34,855 -5.32%
CANBERRA TIMES (M-F) News Ltd 33,000 34,629 -4.70%
SUNDAY MAIL (QLD) News Ltd 525,477 551,271 -4.68%
AUSTRALIAN (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 131,246 137,000 -4.20%
NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 20,553 21,244 -3.25%
SUNDAY TELEGRAPH News Ltd 632,009 653,000 -3.21%
SUNDAY TERRITORIAN News Ltd 21,640 22,287 -2.90%
WEST AUSTRALIAN (Sat) West Australian Newspapers 327,251 336,287 -2.69%
DAILY TELE (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 359,171 369,000 -2.66%
WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN News Ltd 300,941 309,000 -2.61%
WEST AUSTRALIAN (Mon-Fri) West Australian Newspapers 188,211 192,964 -2.46%
COURIER MAIL (Sat) News Ltd 288,924 296,054 -2.41%
SUNDAY TIMES (WA) News Ltd 315,024 321,500 -2.01%
AGE (Sat) Fairfax Media 291,000 296,750 -1.94%
COURIER MAIL (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 211,230 215,383 -1.93%
MERCURY (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 45,210 46,092 -1.91%
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Sat) Fairfax Media 353,878 360,200 -1.76%
ADVERTISER (Sat) News Ltd 250,757 254,499 -1.47%
NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS (Sat) News Ltd 31,084 31,481 -1.26%
SUNDAY MAIL (SA) News Ltd 300,483 304,096 -1.19%
AGE (Mon-Fri) Fairfax Media 202,100 204,200 -1.03%
SUNDAY TASMANIAN News Ltd 58,968 59,526 -0.94%
SUNDAY HERALD-SUN News Ltd 601,000 606,500 -0.91%
DAILY TELEGRAPH (Sat) News Ltd 322,456 325,000 -0.78%
ADVERTISER (M-F) News Ltd 180,853 182,055 -0.66%
HERALD-SUN (Mon-Fri) News Ltd 514,000 515,500 -0.29%
MERCURY (Sat) News Ltd 61,123 61,254 -0.21%
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Mon-Fri) Fairfax Media 211,006 211,370 -0.17%
HERALD-SUN (Sat) News Ltd 503,000 502,000 +0.20%
SUNDAY AGE Fairfax Media 228,600 227,100 +0.66%

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