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Global newspaper ad revenue rises, freesheets gain

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) Advertising revenue at newspapers globally grew 5.7 per cent last year, the largest increase in four years, lifted by strong growth in China, India and Eastern Europe, according to data released Yesterday.

At the same time, paid newspaper circulations worldwide rose just 0.56 percent, the World Association of Newspapers said.

When free dailies were added to the data, however, the circulation gains were 1.21 per cent. Freesheets account for 6 per cent of all newspaper circulation globally and 17 per cent in Europe, including 51 percent of Spain's market.

The figures come against persistent doomsaying for the industry as readers and classified advertising shift rapidly to the Internet, while printing and paper costs rise.

''Overall, the audience for newspapers keeps on growing, both in print and online,'' said Timothy Balding, chief executive of the Paris-based trade group.

''Newspapers are proving to be incredibly resilient against the onslaught of a wide range of media competition.'' Newspapers accounted for 30.2 per cent of the global ad market last year, down slightly from 30.3 per cent in 2004. They are the world's second-biggest ad medium behind television.

Ad revenue in the United States, by far the world's largest market, increased by 1.51 per cent in 2005 and is up 7 per cent over the last five years, the association said. In China, ad revenue was up 19 per cent in 2005 and 128 per cent over five years.

European Union newspaper markets showed a 4.2 per cent year-on-year increase in ad revenue in 2005 with the biggest gains in Estonia, Ireland and Belgium, compared with a 3.1 per cent decline in Britain.

Online consumption of newspapers rose 8.7 per cent in 2005 with related Internet advertising revenue up 24 per cent.

According to the findings released in Moscow at the World Newspaper Congress, more than 439 million people buy a newspaper every day, up from 414 million in 2001. Seventy per cent of the world's 100 best-selling dailies are now published in Asia.

China (96.6 million copies sold daily), India (78.7 million) and Japan (69.7 million) are the top three markets, with the United States (53.3 million) and Germany (21.5 million) rounding out the top five.

Circulation at US dailies fell 2.4 per cent in 2005 and is down 4 per cent over five years, with most of the decline coming from evening newspapers.

The trend of broadsheet newspapers shifting to a tabloid size continued in 2005 with another 28 shrinking, bringing the total that have converted to 85 since 2001, including Britain's Times and Independent and the Wall Street Journal's European edition.

REUTERS CH RK0838

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