South-African newspapers battle circulation drop

According to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) from the second quarter of 2013, the South-African newspapers recorded an overall average circulation decline of 3.2 percent from 3.8-million physical copies in the first three months of 2013 to 3.68-million copies between April and June, according to a report by BDLive.co.za.

Out of 20 newspapers, only The Sowetan and The Times showed both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year improvements, although marginal. While The Herald increased 0.6 percent year on year, it had a sharp quarter-on-quarter decline of 4.8 percent. The Cape Argus was up 0.2 percent on the quarter, but fell 5.8 percent on the year.

According to The Sowetan editor Mpumelelo Mkhabela, the current circulation of 99,517 cannot be compared with the previous peak, more than 200,000 copies in the mid-1990s. With widespread digital access of news media today, the global newspaper industry is under pressure and it is imperative that publishers get more innovative, BDLive reports.

South Africa’s print media industry is somewhat sheltered from the global drop in newspaper circulation as broadband access is still underdeveloped. Print media still enjoys about 19.3 percent of the R34.4bn of advertising money spent in the country.


By: Savita V Jayaram

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