News Limited’s The Daily Telegraph now outsells its Fairfax Media rival the Sydney Morning Herald by two-to-one on weekdays, new numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations today reveal.
The SMH saw its average circulation fall by 14.75% to 170,666 in the April to June quarter compared to the same period last year. The Tele fell by 1.36% to 350,059 in the ABCs.
The market will not be surprised to see dramatic falls across most Fairfax Media mastheads, as the publisher has been releasing additional monthly audience data which pointed in that direction. Fairfax argues that it has focused on retaining profitable copies while ditching those it costs money to circulate and print.
The biggest metro or national newspaper fall in the country came from Fairfax’s Sunday tabloid The Sun-Herald, which dropped 18.66% for the quarter to 346,960. Again this result had been telegraphed in Fairfax’s audience reports which saw the paper’s decline accelerate in June to 23%.
Fairfax’s Victorian titles also saw declines. The Age’s Monday to Friday sales fell by 14.01% while The Sunday Age was down by 14.56%.
But there were encouraging signs at Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review which appears to be stabilising. It lost 3.67% of weekday sales and 5% of Saturday sales – a much improved performance. Financial Review Group CEO Brett Clegg was bullish about the title’s digital growth. He said: “Print circulation growth in mining states such as West Australia has been offset by ongoing job losses in the finance industry in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the inevitable shift over time to digital. Pleasingly our growth on that front is nothing short of explosive. Our digital subscriptions – including print bundles and iPad app sales – are up over 150 per cent in 6 months and traffic to afr.com has risen exponentially in 2012.”
Only one title in the whole country – Seven West Media’s The West Australian – put on circulation. it was up 0.2%
However, News Limited’s sales falls were relatively low although the Herald Sun lost more than 25,000 weekday sales, a drop of just over 5%.
Fairfax claims that The Daily Telegraph and The Australian maintained circulation by giving away cheap and free copies. It said:
“The Daily Telegraph and The Australian are claiming only slight reductions in their print circulation figures.
“Yet an analysis of their sales channels reveals that major jumps in high volume, low yield circulation have propped up their claimed results to mask a slump in retail sales.
“Their figures conceal a major switch into high-volume channels.
“Fairfax metro dailies in Sydney and Melbourne have been shedding their exposure to these unprofitable channels since 2011 and raising prices as the publisher seeks to achieve sustainable circulation for its print business.”