Scotland business

Further declines in Scottish newspaper sales

A selection of newspapers
Image caption Sales of newspapers continue to fall but online readerships are becoming increasingly important for titles

Scottish newspapers have seen sales continue to fall, but publishers claim online readership is taking over as a source of profits.

The six-monthly data from the industry showed the city evening papers falling fastest.

All of the country's major tabloids and broadsheets' circulations fell across the board.

Only three local titles reported rising sales; the Annandale Herald, Border Telegraph and Irvine Times.

Among the bigger fallers was The Herald, down by 10% to average sales below 39,000 between July and December 2013.

According to data from the industry-owned Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), its weekly stablemate, the Sunday Herald, was down 7% to below 24,000, and the company's Glasgow Evening Times fell by 16% to below 36,000.

However the Herald and Times publisher, US-owned Newsquest, highlighted a 66% growth in monthly online readers of The Herald news website, to reach nearly 1.6m by December. It claimed the Evening Times website had seen 80% growth in a year.

'Audience growth'

Tim Blott, its managing director who is also president of the Scottish Newspaper Society, said 40% of group profits were now coming from its digital business, following a 19% growth in digital revenue during last year.

"Doom and gloom stories of newspapers' demise are way off the mark," he said. "It's time to focus on revenue and audience growth across all platforms and drop the commentator's out-dated preoccupation with print."

The Scotsman's circulation in the second half of the year fell below 30,000. A large share of these were on discounted subscriptions, which the Scotsman's management has been working hard to build up.

Its weekly sister paper, Scotland on Sunday, was on 33,000, before it was cut in size last month. That was 12% down on the first half of the year, while the Edinburgh Evening News was down 14% to reach 28,000.

With large debts, their owner, Johnston Press, has been cutting costs, including a reduction in journalist staffing over recent weeks.

Meanwhile, The Scotsman's well-known brand and free online access helped it secure 2.6m unique monthly users using by December.

Among other titles, the Press and Journal, based in Aberdeen, had a 4% drop in print sales compared with the second half of 2012, to reach average daily sales below 64,000.

The Aberdeen Evening Express saw sales down 12% since the second half of 2012, to reach 36,000.

In Dundee, the Courier, reached sales of 50,500, down by 5%. The city's Evening Telegraph also fell 5% to 20,500.

Newsprint readers

Some newspapers have their circulation counted monthly by ABC, alongside national titles based in London.

The most recent figures, for January, show 'i', the sister paper to the Independent, was the only one with higher Scottish circulation than last year, at 19,000.

The Scottish Sun continued to sell the most daily copies of any paper, at 260,000, with the Daily Record's Scottish sale on 219,500.

In the weekly market for Scottish newsprint readers, the Sunday Mail outsold others, shifting 247,000 copies on the average weekend, with the Sun on Sunday trailing it on 185,000.

The Sunday Post, published by DC Thompson, owners of The Courier, was last month on 161,000 Scottish sales, down from 174,000 in January last year.

The Daily Mail has held on to Scottish circulation better than most, selling 95,200 on the average day last month, down from 103,600.

The tussle between London 'quality' titles saw The Times outsell the Daily Telegraph by less than 200 copies, on 18,000 average daily sale.

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