Generally Upbeat World Press Trends Report Highlights Regional Differences

By: E&P Staff

Despite recession, newspaper circulation worldwide fell only slightly last year, and the affect on advertising revenue may be easing, according to the annual “World Press Trends” update, presented last week by Christoph Riess, CEO of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

The report shows circulation fell worldwide only 0.8%, and remained up 5.7% over five years, with a quarter of the world’s adults reading a daily newspaper every day, and more than a third reading any newspaper daily. Most of the decline was in “mature media markets of the developed world,” whereas Asia saw 1% growth last year and 13% over five years.

Just over 60% of countries reported stable or increased circulations over one year; almost 70% reported the same over five years.

Meanwhile, the 12,477 newspaper titles worldwide represented an increase of 1.7% from 2008.

The report also showed global newspaper advertising plunged 17% last year. But it sees advertising revenues bouncing back, and cites Zenith Optimedia’s forecast of a 3.5% increase in 2010, with growth in all regions.

Newspapers’ 24% share of advertising compares with television, at 39%, and the Internet (almost two-thirds of its embedded in search) at 12%.

Riess gave an optimistic assessment of newspapers’ new-media prspects, noting that while printed editions in mature markets have lost readers, their publishers are at the forefront of change, having “embraced digital platforms and new forms of print publishing [and] growing their product portfolios, audience reach and revenues.”

He described a “metamorphosis… into a dynamic, print-based but digitally expansionist new media business model.”

The report’s data (from the 233 countries and territories where newspapers are published) were released at the annual WAN-IFRA Publish Asia conference, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The figures showed that in circulation (excluding free papers, which otherwise would exaggerate the 2009 worldwide decline and the five-year increase), the rise was greatest in Africa (4.8%). It fell 3.4% in North America, 4.6% in South America, 5.6% in Europe, and 1.5% in Australia and Oceania.

The increase in daily newspaper titles broke down as follows: 2.7% in Asia, 1.3% in North America, 1% in South America, and 0.2% in Africa, with no net change in Europe, Australia and Oceania.

Worldwide, non-dailies sold 278 million copies in 2009, 2.5% more than a year earlier, though Africa and North America saw declines of 6.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

At 110 million copies, India’s daily sales exceeded China’s by a million million and was well more than double the sales in Japan and the United States. In all, Asia claims 67 of the 100 largest dailies.

The projected 3.5% growth in global advertising breaks down a 5.8% increase in Asia, a 2.2% hike in Western Europe and only 1.3% in North America.

While North American newspapers lost a quarter of their ad revenues last year, Western Europe’s revenue declined 13.7%, Central and Eastern Europe saw ad revenue fall 18.7%, Asia’s was set back 9.6% and Latin America endured a relatively mild 2.9%. Ad revenue was stable in the Middle East and Africa.

The report cited a recent Microsoft study in the United Kingdom showing that every British pound spent on print advertising yields five in revenue, compated with returns of 2.2 pounds for television and 3.4 for Web ads.

In the area of new media, the report finds mobile news delivery more promising for newspapers than Internet delivery, with penetration across all demographics and well-established content payment. Still, it recognizes the absence of an advertising model and any interest n content partnerships among companies that control the channels.

The promise of digital readers, the report continues, awaits improved readability and light, longer-lived batteries that don’t become pollutants.

Available online from WAN-IFRA

, the 1,230-page “World Press Trends 2010” contains, among other information: country-by-country data; information on non-daily publications; forecasts for newspaper, magazine and total advertising expenditures for 2010, 2011 and 2012; trends in formats and cover prices for dailies, color capability, media consumption, display and classified advertising income, and distribution of sales between single copies and subscriptions; data on each country’s top-selling titles, top newspaper advertising sectors and major advertisers; tax rates/conditions for the press, subsidies, and ownership regulations.

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