By Robert MacMillan
U.S. newspaper circulation fell 2.6 percent as of the end of March,
according to data released on Monday, the latest evidence that readers
are defecting to the Internet and other media outlets.
A Newspaper Association of America analysis of semiannual data from
the Audit Bureau of Circulations on 770 daily newspapers found that
average daily circulation fell to about 45.4 million readers, compared
with about 46.6 million in the same six-month period ended March 31 a
Sunday circulation at 610 newspapers fell 3.1 percent to 48.5 million.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations counts 882 U.S. daily newspapers
among its members. More than 85 percent of them reported their figures
for the latest report.
Circulation rose 0.5 percent for the New York Times' weekday and
Sunday editions. USA Today, Gannett Co. Inc.'s flagship paper, was up
0.1 percent to about 2.27 million.
More typical for the industry was a 1 percent drop reported by Dow
Jones & Co. Inc.'s flagship paper, the Wall Street Journal.
Newspaper companies have been fighting weak print advertising revenue
growth and falling profits as more people use the Internet and other
media to get their news.
Many companies have launched online editions of their papers, some of
them updating news throughout the day, to keep their hold on audiences
and compete with Web sites like those of Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO -
news) and Google Inc. which gather news from multiple sources.
But newspaper Internet advertising sales have not offset the weakness
seen in their print publications.
Still, the online newspaper audience is rising, the Newspaper
Association said. Newspaper Web sites averaged about 56 million
readers, or 37 percent of all online users, during the first quarter
of 2006, according to research firm Nielsen//NetRatings. That is an 8
percent increase over the same period a year ago, the association
The Washington Post's daily and Sunday circulation figures were off
about 4 percent. The Los Angeles Times' daily circulation fell more
than 5 percent, while Sunday circulation was down nearly 2 percent.
Circulation also fell at newspapers that McClatchy Co. is buying from
Knight Ridder Inc. and selling to other companies.
The San Jose Mercury News, which McClatchy plans to sell to MediaNews
Group Inc., saw circulation fall almost 8 percent for its daily
edition and almost 5 percent on Sundays. The Philadelphia Inquirer's
daily and Sunday circulation figures fell more than 5 percent while
the Daily News was off more than 9 percent.
Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.
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