Projo’s Sunday circulation slumps 10%; owner loses $8M

Projo_Sunday_circ_3-31-2013The Providence Journal’s Sunday print circulation fell 10% during the six months ended March 31, figures released Tuesday showed, as the newspaper’s parent company reported a first-quarter loss of $8 million.

The Journal’s print circulation on Sundays – the most lucrative edition of the week for most papers – totaled 109,516 copies, down by 12,763 since March 2012, the Alliance for Audited Media (formerly the Audit Bureau of Circulations) reported Tuesday morning.

The Projo sold an average of 79,244 traditional print editions on weekdays between Oct. 1 and March 31, a decrease of 6,252 from a year earlier and 45% fewer than in September 2007.

Saturday circulation dipped below 100,000 for the first time, falling by 10,484 to 98,651. Weekday circulation fell below 100,000 for the first time in 2010. The overall pace of circulation loss has slowed since 2009-10, when the annual rate of decline on Sundays peaked at 17%.

The Journal reported just under 2,000 subscriptions to its electronic edition in the October-March period, with 1,888 on Sundays, 1,880 on Saturdays and 1,877 on weekdays. had 1.05 million unique visitors as of March 31, down from 1.2 million in the six months ended Sept. 30.

The Journal said its total average weekly circulation was 109,497 when “branded editions” are added, which includes its free Journal Express publication, published on Thursdays in a limited number of municipalities. The audit group changed its rules in 2011 to count branded editions.

Like most newspapers, The Providence Journal has been losing print readers for decades. According to audit records, The Journal’s average weekday circulation has plunged by more than half over the past quarter-century, from 203,647 in 1990 and 163,122 in 2000 to 101,123 in 2010 and 79,244 this year.

As of this week The Journal’s newsroom is under new leadership: Karen Bordeleau succeeded Thomas Heslin on Monday as the newspaper’s senior vice president and executive editor. Heslin, who had been on medical leave, retired for health reasons after four and a half years at the helm.

The Journal’s annual revenue was $94 million in 2012, down just 1% from the previous year, thanks to ongoing growth in the company’s outside printing and distribution work. The paper’s advertising revenue has fallen 66% since 2005, according to regulatory filings.

The Journal’s Dallas-based parent company A.H. Belo on Monday posted a net loss of $8.1 million for the three months ended March 31, worse than the $3.9 million it lost in the same quarter a year earlier. Total revenue at the company’s three newspapers – The Dallas Morning News, The Journal and California’s Press-Enterprise – fell 5% to $99.3 million.

“We are very pleased with the advertising and total revenue performance in Dallas, which was on plan despite a challenging start to the year,” A.H. Belo CEO Robert Decherd said in a statement. The company said “improvements at The Dallas Morning News were more than offset by declines at The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise.”

No other Rhode Island newspaper reported its circulation to the audit group.

In Massachusetts, The Sun Chronicle sold 13,893 print editions on Sundays and 13,061 on weekdays, plus 293 electronic editions, during the six months ended March 31. The Sun Chronicle’s Sunday circulation is down 23% since March 2009.

The New Bedford Standard-Times sold 21,770 print copies plus 636 e-editions on Sundays and 19,480 print copies plus 892 e-editions Monday through Saturday. The Standard-Times’ Sunday circulation is down 26% since March 2009. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns The Standard-Times and its sister Dow Jones Local Media Group papers, is reportedly looking to sell them.

The Fall River Herald News sold 14,443 copies on Sundays and 12,865 copies on weekdays, plus 1,609 e-editions across the week. The Herald News’ Sunday circulation is down 25% since March 2009.

The Taunton Gazette sold 6,463 print copies plus 50 e-editions on Sundays and 5,825 print copies plus 125 e-editions Monday through Saturday. The Gazette’s Sunday circulation is down 22% since March 2009.

The Wall Street Journal continued to be the most-read daily U.S. newspaper through March 31, with an average circulation of 2.4 million, the audit group said. The WSJ was followed by The New York Times (1.9 million), USA Today (1.7 million), the Los Angeles Times (653,868) and the New York Daily News (516,165).

The Boston Globe ranked 24th on the most-read list, with an average weekday circulation of 245,572, including 73,524 digital editions. The Globe’s average Sunday circulation was 382,452, including 72,681 digital editions.

More coverage of The Providence Journal on Nesi’s Notes:

blog comments powered by Disqus