Newspaper circulation continues to decline: ABC

May 03, 2011  |  Chris Powell  |  Comments

Canadian newspaper circulation continues to slide according to the latest data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), although there are a few bright spots for the industry.

Unaudited publishers statements for the six months ended March 31 show that 26 of the 34 Canadian dailies newspapers measured by ABC experienced a dip in circulation over the past year. The average circulation decline was 5.3%.

The most significant drop came at Postmedia Network’s Montreal daily The Gazette, which saw its Monday to Friday circulation drop 15.3%, from 173,747 for the measured period last year to 147,110 for the most recent reporting period.

Another Postmedia Network title, the Victoria Times Colonist, saw its weekday circulation decline 10.3%, from 65,953 to 59,157.

Other major publications experiencing circulation declines included The Windsor Star (-8.1%), Winnipeg Free Press (-5.4%) and the Edmonton Journal (-5.1%).

Some newspapers successfully bucked the trend, however. In Halifax, independently owned publication The Chronicle Herald saw its Monday to Friday circulation increase by an industry-leading 6.8% to 115,429, while Montreal’s Le Devoir saw its circulation increase 4.9% to 29,800.

In Toronto, The Globe and Mail – which introduced a completely revamped product at the start of the reporting period – saw its weekday circulation increase 2.5% to 307,482.

Postmedia’s flagship title, the National Post –which in March released ABC’s first Consolidated Media Report for the Canadian market – saw its Monday to Friday circulation decrease 8.7% to 160,048.

The ABC numbers don’t provide a complete picture of the Canadian newspaper industry however, since they don’t include circulation figures for several major newspaper chains including Torstar, Sun Media and Transcontinental Media. Those chains defected from ABC to the rival Canadian Circulation Audit Board (CCAB) in 2008.

The Canadian market has also yet to implement a change in methodology that saw the creation of a new top-line number for the U.S. newspaper market: Total average circulation.

The new metric, which replaces the former total paid circulation, includes a publication’s paid and verified print and digital circulation, as well as any paid and digital circulation for so-called “branded editions,” which ABC defines as “any editions of the newspaper that are published at least weekly, have a different name than the ABC-member newspaper, but are labeled to include the word “edition.”

Neal Lulofs, ABC’s senior vice-president, communications and strategic planning, told Marketing this morning that the organization is considering implementing the change in Canada.

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