Newspaper readers lose the Sunday habit

Whatever Australians do on a Sunday, it doesn’t involve reading as much as they used to – or that appears to be the message in the latest set of newspaper circulation figures.  

According to January-March numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, Sunday newspaper sales are down in virtually every state compared to the same period in 2008.

The biggest fall was in West Australia where News Ltd’s Sunday Times lost 3.9% of its sales, falling to 321,200 copies.

In NSW the situation was almost as bad. News Ltd’s Sunday Telegraph editor Neil Breen – whose credibility took a knock over the Pauline Hanson fake photos furore – saw his newspaper lose 2.7% of its sales, falling to 651,872 copies. However things were even worse for Fairfax rival the Sun-Herald, which lost 4%, falling to 480,000 copies.

In Queensland, News  Ltd’s Sunday Mail lost 2.9% of its sales, down to 559,114 copies. In SA, the Sunday Mail was down 3.6%; in Tasmania, the Sunday Tasmanian fell 0.4%.

The only even vaguely bright spot for Sundays was in Victoria, where Fairfax’s Sunday Age put on 0.5%. News Ltd rival the Sunday Herald Sun lost 0.7%.

There was also bad news for Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review. Its weekday sales saw the biggest fall of any newspaper – down 6.5% to 82,764.

However, the AFR’s News Ltd rival The Australian did better – with a weekday increase in readership of 3.6% to 138,765.

There was also a positive sign for Kerry Stokes. The West Australian, which he took effective control of earlier this year, appears to have reversed its decline as the paper improves its relationship with newsagents. Its weekday sale was up 1.6%.

Meanwhile, News Ltd has dropped another heavy  hint that it has major changes ahead. Today’s Australian quotes chairman John Hartigan as flagging up new initiatives to increase newspaper readership and drive traffic to the masthead websites. He said:

“The projects involve a potentially radical overhaul of everything we do.”


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