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World paper circulation up 2.3%, despite internet

Newspaper circulations worldwide rose 2.3% in 2006, while newspaper advertising revenues showed substantial gains, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) told a gathering of newspaper executives in the South African city of Cape Town Monday.

Newspaper sales increased in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, with North America the only continent to register a decline. Advertising revenues in paid dailies were up 3.77% last year, World Association of Newspapers said. When free dailies are added to the paid newspaper circulation, global circulation increased 4.61%. Free dailies now account for nearly 8% of all global newspaper circulation. The data from WAN's annual survey of world press trends was released to more than 1,600 publishers, editors and other senior newspaper executives from 109 countries at the 60th World Newspaper Congress and the 14th World Editors' Forum in Cape Town.

„These results are even better than we expected,” Timothy Balding, CEO of Paris-based WAN, said. „Newspapers are alive and well and exhibiting enormous innovation and energy to maintain their place as the news media of preference for hundreds of millions of people daily.” The trend is defying the rise of the internet. „As the digital tide gathers strength, it is remarkable that the press in print continues to be the media of preference for the majority of readers,” Balding said. Yet, at the same time, newspapers were „exploiting to the full all the new opportunities provided by the digital distribution channels to increase their audiences,” he added.

Rising circulation figures in 2006 took global sales to a new high, with more than 515 million people buying a newspaper every day. With free dailies included, daily circulation increased to nearly 556 million. Average readership is estimated to be more than 1.4 billion people each day, with most copies read by more than one person. China, Japan and India account for 60 of the world's 100 best- selling dailies, while the five largest markets for newspapers are China, India, Japan, the US and Germany.

In Europe, daily newspaper circulation was up overall, with 10 EU countries increasing their circulation, headed by Romania with 25.7%, Austria with 9.43%, and Portugal with 8.95%. Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia also increased sales, with circulation remaining stable in Cyprus. Another 15 EU countries reported losses. The Slovenian market was hit worst with 18.9%, followed by Latvia with 7.8% and Greece with 4.9%. Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Britain also reported losses. Elsewhere in Europe, circulation increased in Turkey and Croatia, while declining in Norway and in Switzerland. In the US, the circulation of dailies fell 1.9%, with most of the decline coming in evening dailies. In Latin America, Brazilian newspaper sales were up 6.5% and Colombian sales increased 3.2%.

In Asia, circulation was up 3.61% over the previous year. Indian sales increased most with 12.93%. Elsewhere in Asia, sales were up in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Korea, and down in Taiwan and Japan. Sales in Australia recorded an increase of 2.95%, while New Zealand newspaper sales were down 1.1%. In Africa, sales were up 8.24% in South Africa and stable in Nigeria and Kenya. The Japanese remain the world's greatest newspaper buyers, while Belgians spend the most time reading them - an average of 54 minutes a day - followed by the Chinese, Finns and Brazilians, with 48 minutes each. Sunday newspaper circulations declined 3.69%, with the US and Britain remaining the largest markets for Sunday papers by far. Circulation for non-daily newspapers rose 7.29%. Free daily newspapers saw a circulation increase of 55% in one year, with a total of 287 free titles distributing 40.7 million copies a day - most of them in Europe.

The five largest free dailies are Metro in Britain, Leggo in Italy as well as 20 Minutos, Que! and ADN in Spain. (