By paulgillin | October 26, 2009 - 4:13 pm - Posted in Business News, Circulation, NewMedia

Circulation at major metro daily newspapers fell at more than twice the rate of last year’s record declines, although extenuating circumstances may be partly to blame.

Audit Bureau of Control (ABC) numbers released today showed that daily newspaper circulation plunged 10.6% for the six months ended Sept. 30 compared to the same period a year ago. Sunday circulation was off 7.5%. In the same period a year ago, average daily circulation fell 4.6%, while Sunday papers were down 4.9%. Only one newspaper – The Wall Street Journal – showed an increase in circulation and it was a meager .6%. It blew past USA Today to become the US leader in circulation as USA Today posted a 17% circulation decline, largely as a consequence of the loss of Marriott’s hotel-distribution business.

The New York Times was down 7.3% and its neighbor New York Post was off 18.8%. Both blamed extenuating circumstances. The Times has been pruning unprofitable circulation as it seeks to make subscription revenue a bigger piece of its top line. The Post blamed its plunge in part on an April, 2007 decision to double its newsstand price. The Post didn’t explain why it took two years for the price increase to show up in the circulation figures.

The figures may have also been impacted by recent ABC rules changes that tighten up the ability for newspapers to count bulk and sponsored copies in their total circulation. That doesn’t change the fact that this is the last news the industry needs to hear right now.

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