Metro Dailies Suffer Declines

NEW YORK The Audit Bureau of Circulations’ FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ending September 2006 confirmed yet again that major metros are struggling to show growth. The losses are steep while the gains are meager.

This is the fourth consecutive semi-annual report to register severe drops in daily and Sunday circulation. While the estimated overall 2.8 percent decline for daily circulation may seem negligible, in years past that decrease averaged around 1 percent. Sunday copies, considered the industry’s bread and butter, showed even steeper losses, with an average decline of about 3.5 percent.

In New York, however, a 5 percent surge for the New York Post allowed it to leapfrog past its rival, the Daily News (and The Washington Post) into fifth place in daily circulation nationwide.

The New York Times dipped 3.5 percent daily to less than 1.1 million and dropped 3.5 percent on Sunday to about 1.6 million.

Its sibling, The Boston Globe, reported a 6.7 percent fall in daily circulation to just over 385,000, while its Sunday circ tumbled nearly 10 percent to less than 590,000.

A group led by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and soon-to-retire Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos chairman Jack Connors is mulling a bid to acquire the Globe [Adweek Online, Oct. 25].

The pair has teamed with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other investors for a proposed deal estimated at approximately half the $1.1 billion the Times Co. paid for New England’s largest daily newspaper in 1993.

Other major papers to record dips in daily and Sunday numbers include: The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and The Washington Post.

Circulation losses at The Wall Street Journal were average, with daily down 2 percent to approximately 2.1 million. The paper’s weekend edition, however, saw its circ dive 6.7 percent to slightly less than 2 million.

Daily circulation at USA Today slipped 1.3 percent to 2.3 million.

The New York Post got a leg up in the city’s tabloid wars. Daily circulation at the paper overtook the Daily News with a gain of just over 5 percent (perhaps the only major metro in the country to report such growth) to more than 704,000 copies. The Daily News also increased its daily circ, up 1 percent to 693,000.