Island of Ireland report: Irish papers and magazines hit by frees and broadband

Only two of the 16 daily and Sunday newspapers that serve Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland managed to increase circulation year on year during the first half of 2008.

Island of Ireland report: Irish papers and magazines hit by frees and broadband
Island of Ireland report: Irish papers and magazines hit by frees and broadband

According to the ABC's biannual Island of Ireland report for January to June 2008, of the 11 daily and Sunday newspapers serving the Republic of Ireland, only The Irish Times and Sunday World increased circulation year on year. The greatest year-on-year decline was recorded by the Sunday Tribune, down 6.4%.

The expansion of Republic of Ireland freesheets, especially in Dublin, and the roll-out of broadband have contributed to the decline. But Andrew Sinclair, deputy managing director, OMD Ireland, said: "There's still a strong desire for the physical product, something you can engage with."

Evening newspapers across NI and RoI experienced some of the largest circulation declines over the first six months of 2008. However, like their UK counterparts, Irish publishers are looking to offset their declining print circulations with a growing online presence. Sarah Little, commercial manager of the Belfast Telegraph, said: "We're focusing heavily on online. Online is up 15% year on year and page impressions are up 45%. We're in the process of publishing our first ABCe."

All of the Northern Irish daily and Sunday newspapers audited by ABC experienced a year-on-year decline in circulation and the majority of non-daily titles also recorded declines.

Fran Walsh, circulation sales director at The Irish Times, said: "Certain sectors such as property, recruitment and motors, to some extent, have declined but retail is okay," he said.

Euan Jarvie, managing director, MediaCom Ireland & Scotland, said: "The rest of the year is going to be a tough time. Even in a recession companies need to promote themselves. They are being more considered, but don't appear to be spending lots less."

Within the Republic of Ireland consumer magazine market, Skymag, the free customer magazine for the satellite broadcaster, led the way, posting a 15% year-on-year circulation increase. Across all consumer magazines, circulation declined by 2.16% year on year.

Adrian Hughes, IPC Media circulation director, said: "One of the key challenges is that the number of magazine retailers has increased so retailers are facing tougher competition. The Irish consumer is interested in great content whether it is from Irish, UK or US titles."

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