The West Australian becomes highest circulating audited newspaper following News Corp withdrawal

Seven West Media’s The West Australian has become the highest circulating audited newspaper in Australia for the first time, with its Saturday paper posting a circulation of 237,049 and its Monday to Friday editions posting a higher circulation figure than than The Sydney Morning Herald.

The result comes two months after News Corp decided to withdraw from the newspaper circulation audit, raising new questions about the future of the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA).

The West Australian led the audit for the first time

At the time, both Fairfax Media and Seven West Media said they would review their ongoing commitment to the AMAA’s ABC audit, however no changes have been made.

The West Australian’s strong results come as it commences another round of voluntary redundancies. It is unclear how many have been affected.

This round of data is the second time the AMAA has consolidated six months worth of circulation numbers for newspapers, rather than the traditional quarterly release. The percentage changes calculated by Mumbrella represent the changes from the quarterly numbers a year ago to the new half-yearly numbers.

But despite the strong result for West Australian newspapers, the ABC figures show all but four publishers saw a decline a circulation from the period prior – which was from January to July 2017.

The West Australian’s Saturday edition was up by 10% from the year prior, compared to Mumbrella’s figures based on the previous year.

Fairfax Media’s The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday edition also saw an increase, up 6% from 149,417 to 159,539. But Melbourne’s The Age Saturday edition suffered, down 10% from 152,350 to 136,078 in the corresponding periods.

The biggest decline in the Saturday papers came from The Canberra Times, which fell from 27,755 to 21,593 (-22%). Meanwhile, The Australian Financial Review’s weekend edition, which rans on Saturday, fell by 9% from an average circulation of 52,075 to 47,394.

Amongst the Sunday papers which are still audited by the AMAA, West Australian Newspapers’ Sunday Times – owned by Seven West Media – was the only publisher to see an increase in circulation, up from 174,375 to 174,747.

The Sun Herald and Canberra Sun showed the biggest declines, both down 14.5%. Fairfax’s Sun Herald fell from 179,114 to 153,043, while The Canberra Times Sunday fell from 17,056 to 14,575.

Fairfax’s Sunday Age dipped 8% to a 108,138 figure.

The publisher with the highest audited circulation Monday to Friday newspaper in Australia is also the West Australian, with a circulation of 152,353, up 16% from last year’s average of 130,650. It was the only Monday to Friday publisher with a circulation of more than 100,000.

Fairfax’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age saw declines of 12% and 11.5% respectively, to circulations of 83,117 and 77,821.

The Canberra Times fell by 12.4%, with its circulation now below 15,000. From July to December 2017, the publisher had a circulation of 14,305.

The AFR saw a 13.5% decrease in circulation, reporting a 41,967 figure compared to a Mumbrella-calculated average of 48,547 the year prior.

Digital sales saw The Western Australian climbed to 21,659 subscribers for its Monday to Friday edition, up from the previous period’s 19,657. Fairfax Media and News Corp’s digital figures are no longer audited.

At the beginning of last year, less than 20 publishers remained in the magazine audit. It came after the three major magazine publishers – Pacific Magazines, Bauer Media, and NewsLifeMedia – withdrew from the AMAA, in a move which was said to effectively kill the magazine audit. Since then, The Big Issue, RM Williams Outback, Frankie, Runner’s World and The Monthly have also pulled. Now, there are only 10 publishers remaining.

Of those remaining, the highest circulating publisher is Club Marine, at 87,012, slightly up on the same period the year, which had 85,841 (1.4%).

The only other magazine publisher to build its circulation year on year with AFL Record, a weekly title with a circulation of 27,106 for the period ending in December 2017. It climbed by 8.6%.

Just Cars magazine fell by 11.2% to 35,622, Just Bikes fell by 17.8% to 11,720 and Just 4X4 dropped 13% to 4,924.

The West Australian’s Quokka magazine fell by 14.9% to 3,852.


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