By GILL MOODIE
Of SA’s daily newspapers, only the Daily Dispatch, Sowetan, Isolezwe, The Times and The Witness rose slightly year-on-year in the last quarter of 2014, according to the release today of ABC circulation figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations of SA (ABC).
We have seen the first four papers either holding steady or rising slightly for some time so very well done to their editors and publishing teams (at Times Media Group for the Dispatch, The Times and Sowetan, and Independent Newspapers for Isolezwe) in this most difficult of markets while The Witness was up slightly for the first time in a long time in the third quarter of last year.
Here are the titles that rose year-on-year (total circulation) across the daily, weekend and weekly categories:
- Daily Dispatch: From 25 251 a year ago to 25 894;
- Isolezwe: From 107 119 a year ago to 107 139;
- Sowetan: From 99 236 a year ago to 99 723;
- The Witness: From 17 549 a year ago to 17 893;
- The Citizen (Saturday): From 34 498 a year ago to 36 813;
- Saturday Dispatch: From 20 679 a year ago to 20 925;
- Weekend Argus: From 55 121 a year ago to 55 355;
- Post: From 43 975 a year ago to 46 960;
- Soccer Laduma: From 307 275 a year ago to 309 721; and
- The Times: From 142 523 a year ago to 143 955.
Sadly, we can expect the Pietermartizburg-based Witness’ sales figures to fall quite drastically this year after parent company Media24 shut its fledgling Durban tabloid edition late last year that had added between 2000-3000 sales.
This will put it alongside the other regional paper that is really struggling: the Indy’s Pretoria News – now down to 14 002 total circulation from 17 243 a year ago.
Yikes, that’s low for a paper serving a market as big as Pretoria!
Other notable moves downwards year-on-year include:
- Beeld: From 64 874 to 52 276;
- Die Burger: From 60 512 to 56 474;
- The Mercury: From 29 010 to 26 916;
- The Star: From 100 898 to 93 014;
- Sunday Times: From 411 186 to 385 080;
- City Press: From 124 418 to 108 927;
- Rapport: From 187 288 to 156 383;
- Sunday Tribune: From 68 277 to 63 622; and
- Mail & Guardian: From 51 551 to 33 060.
It is also worth noting that the Saturday and Sunday editions of Isolezwe are down, suggesting that the growth phase of these products is at an end.
The Saturday edition was at 76 837 in Q4 2014 compared with 82 339 year-on-year while the Sunday edition was at 85 301 compared with 88 026.
It does seem, however, that SA’s biggest daily newspaper, the Daily Sun, might be arresting its decline.
It was down year-on-year (from 297 614 to 273 746) but significantly up on the previous quarter, from 262 431. It has no sales below 50% or third-party bulking and only 665 PMIE (that go to schools for free to aid literacy).
[box]SEE ALSO: ABC circulation 10-year comparison: how the mighty have fallen, 19 Feb 2015[/box]
The ABC board noted in its presentation of these latest figures that there is a rise in “sales below 50%” (of cover price) across the board – especially for daily newspapers. In fact, it grew by 36% from the third quarter of 2014 among daily newspapers. The titles showing the strongest signs of employing this distribution tactic include:
- Caxton’s The Citizen and the its Saturday edition; and
- Indy’s Cape Argus, Cape Times, Pretoria News and its Saturday edition, The Star and the Saturday Star, Weekend Argus.
The Cape Times – an interesting one to watch because of the very public controversial ructions the paper has suffered under its new Sekunjalo owners (from the sacking of editor Alide Dasnois to the Tony Weaver affair) – was at 31 930 total circulation compared with 32 611 the year before.
Drilling into the numbers, the Cape Times did:
- 2 537 sales below 50% in Q4 2014 (0 year-on-year);
- 496 PMIE (379);
- 857 PDF replica (773 digital editions);
- 14 168 copy sales (16 407);
- 1 000 travel & commercial subscriptions (1 000);
- 3 388 business subs (3 404); and
- 9 514 individual subs (10 648).
[box]SEE ALSO: ABC Analysis Q4 2014: The biggest-circulating newspapers in South Africa, Mark Lives, 19 Feb 2015[/box]