martinplaut

Journalist specialising in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa

Africa, South Africa

South Africa’s sadly weakening newspapers

Mail & GuardianWith South Africa run by such a dominant political party the lack of popular appeal of  newspapers is worrying.

All politicians need to be held to account.

Since much of televion is controlled by the government or its associates, the papers are one of the few agencies able to do this.

The only glimmer of hope is that the Mail & Guardian has grown – a little.

But overall the story is one of decline.

Martin

ABC Analysis Q1 2016: The biggest-circulating newspapers in SA

by Herman Manson (@marklives) The Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa has released newspaper circulation statistics for the period January-March 2016 2015 (ABC Q1 2016); see our magazine ABC analysis here.

Daily newspaper circulation has fallen to 1 332 331 from 1 536 073 during the previous corresponding reporting period (Q1 2015); PDF replica editions totalled 4 909 copies, while single copy sales came in at 1 014 204. Circulation at the weeklies has fallen, too — total circulation has declined to 526 674 from 587 237; weekend newspapers have gone from 1 626 300 to 1 874 956; and local papers have also seen a decline, falling to 376 146 from 416 713. Free sheets have grown to 6 296 229, from 6 295 815.

ABC member circulation totals:

  • Daily newspapers: down to 1 332 331, compared to 1 536 073 for the previous corresponding period
  • Weekly papers: down to 526 674 from 587 237
  • Weekend papers: down to 1 626 300 from 1 874 956
  • Local papers: down to 376 146 from 416 713
  • Free papers: up to 6 296 22 from 6 295 815

Note: we compare the current figures with the same figures for this time last year, and not with the previous quarter. Green equals growth, red decline, purple maintained, new entrant or renamed, orange discontinued and pink no submission or suspended.

Daily papers

In Gauteng, Beeld has fallen to 46 721 from 51 050 in the previous corresponding reporting period, and Pretoria  News to 14 381 from 14 968. The Star has declined to 86 833 from 91 735 (sales below 50% = 12 326). Sowetan is down to 90 165 from 99 244.

In the Cape, Die Burger (Eastern and Western Cape editions) has declined to 52 810 from 56 146. The Cape Argus has grown slightly to 30 524 from 30 393 (2 941 copies go to Print Media in Education), while the Cape Times has declined to 31 767 — down from 32 371 (1 500 copies go to Print Media in Education). Son has fallen to 79 193 from 82 579.

In the Eastern Cape, Daily Dispatch has fallen to 23 150 from 26 147 and The Herald to 19 673 from 20 919.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Daily News has fallen to 24 494 from 26 973 and The Mercury to 25 725 from 27 499. The Witness has declined to 14 348 from 16 554.

Business Day has declined to 24 672 from 29 559, The Citizen to 51 700 from 57 096 (with sales below 50% at 3 288 and third party bulk at 2 004), and Daily Sun to 206 804 from 264 925. Isolezwe has fallen to 103 899 from 110 155. The Times is down to 80 666 from 140 647 (Times Media had announced in August 2015 it would be cutting The Times’ circulation to around 100 000).

Volksblad has declined to 17 014 from 18 652. Diamond Fields Advertiser is down to 8 541 from 9 161.

The MarkLives Big Daily Newspaper List*

  1. Daily Sun: 206 804
  2. Isolezwe: 103 899 +1
  3. Sowetan: 90 165 +1
  4. The Star: 86 833 +1
  5. The Times: 80 666 -3
  6. Son: 79 193
  7. Die Burger: 52 810
  8. The Citizen: 51 700
  9. Beeld: 46 721
  10. The Cape Times: 31 767

Weekly & weekend papers

Saturday Beeld has fallen to 41 896 from 46 891, and Pretoria News Saturday to 7 521 from 8 511 (sales below 50% of cover price: 1 800). The Saturday Star is down to 52 174 from 59 617 (sales below 50% of cover price: 5 044). Saturday Burger has fallen to 52 810 from 59 617. The Weekend Argus Saturday edition is down to 37 050 from 38 114, while the Weekend Argus Sunday edition is down to 17 448 from 17 669. Saturday Dispatch has fallen to 17 908 from 20 665. Independent on Saturday is down to 37 151 from 38 066.

City Press has declined to 91 347 from 105 818 and Rapport to 131 004 from 156 376. The Sunday Times falls to 322 111 from 368 048. Sunday Tribune is down to 60 347 from 64 063. Sunday Sun is down to 115 708 from 161 709 and Sunday World to 80 431 from 102 765.

Ilanga Langesonto has declined to 40 805 from 49 782 and Isolezwe ngeSonto has fallen to 78 773 from 88 410. Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo fallen to 74 849 from 83 124.

In terms of the weeklies: Ilanga has fallen to 73 567 from 93 021, and The Post falls to 42 024 from 45 744. The Mail & Guardian has grown to 34 443 from 30 705. Soccer Laduma is down to 287 873 from 315 273.

The MarkLives’ Biggest Circulation Per Issue Newspaper List*

  1. Sunday Times: 322 111
  2. Soccer Laduma: 287 873
  3. Daily Sun: 206 804
  4. Rapport: 131 004
  5. Sunday Sun: 115 708
  6. Isolezwe: 103 899  +1
  7. City Press: 91 347  +2
  8. Sowetan: 90 165
  9. Sunday World: 84 974  +1
  10. The Star: 86 833 New entry +1The Times: 80 666  falls out of top 10 -5
    Son: 79 193
    Isolezwe ngeSonto: 78 773
    Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo  74 849
    Ilanga: 73 567

3 thoughts on “South Africa’s sadly weakening newspapers

  1. Has any research been done about the reasons for the decline in newspaper sales? Are newspapers becoming too expensive, do people have less time to read, are they no longer interested in what’s going on in the world or is it electronic media that is gradually taking over the news scene in our country? Or are people simply becoming fed up with all the negativity in our country?

    Is any information availabble about the international situation?

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