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NAA Finds Newspaper Readership Steady In Top 50 Markets

Press release from the issuing company

May 12, 2003 -- Vienna, Va. ­– The Spring 2003 Competitive Media Index from the Newspaper Association of America shows newspapers in the top 50 markets continue to reach nearly eight out of 10 adults (79.9 percent) over the course of a week (5 weekdays plus a Sunday). The CMI is an NAA analysis of market data from Scarborough Research of New York City for the period ending September 2002. “The story here is that nearly 80 percent of adults are making a conscious decision each week to pick up a newspaper – that kind of reach is hard to beat,” said NAA President and CEO John Sturm. “Newspapers don’t happen to be ‘on’ when you’re in the room. If you’re reading a newspaper, you’re engaged in it – and eight in 10 people choose to be engaged each week.” In addition, CMI reports that more than half of all adults in the top 50 markets are reading a newspaper every weekday; 55.1 percent reported by the Spring 2003 CMI, compared to 55.4 percent in the fall 2002. Each Sunday, 63.1 percent of adults in those markets read a newspaper, down slightly from 63.6 percent reported in the Fall 2002 CMI. “When you look at the impressive number of people reading the newspaper every day, you get a sense of how important it is to their lives,” Sturm noted. “This daily appetite for newspapers tells advertisers that newspapers are delivering the reader base that advertisers value, particularly in a difficult economic climate.” As newspapers put into practice the research findings of the Readership Initiative and renew their focus on growing readership, Sturm noted, “The industry has marked a critical transition from what we have learned to what we can do.” An NAA analysis of the latest Fas-Fax data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the six-month period ending March 31, 2003, shows that roughly half the daily newspapers (405 of 814 newspapers reporting) gained circulation. The average daily circulation for the 814 newspapers reporting for comparable periods was 49,966,190, a slight drop of 0.1 percent (from 50,022,875) over the same period a year ago. On Sunday, the trend for the 640 newspapers reporting for comparable periods was the same, falling 0.1 percent to 54,318,384 from 54,393,420. “The circulation figures are in range with what we’d expected,” noted Sturm. “With this, however, newspapers are finding new and cost-effective ways to gain and retain subscribers. At our Marketing Conference this past January, for example, newspaper executives reported that online circulation programs are becoming one of the fastest-growing sources of new subscriptions. This is the kind of innovative thinking that leverages the power of our print product with its online component and brings further strength to our medium.” The following are NAA’s Spring 2003 CMI top 10 newspaper markets for adult readership: Daily: 1. Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass. (67.1 percent) 2. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (66.3 percent) 3. West Palm Beach, Fla. (65.7 percent) 4. Boston (65.6 percent) 5. Buffalo (65.5 percent) 6. Cleveland (64.8 percent) 7. Pittsburgh (63.0 percent) 8. Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa. (62.5 percent) 9. New York (62.4 percent) 10. Philadelphia (61.4 percent) Sunday: 1. Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass. (76.4 percent) 2. West Palm Beach, Fla. (76.1 percent) 3. Cleveland (75.6 percent) 4. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (73.5 percent) 5. Buffalo (73.5 percent) 6. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota, Fla. (73.1 percent) 7. Pittsburgh (70.7 percent) 8. New Orleans (69.7 percent) 9. Philadelphia (69.4 percent) 10. Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa. (69.2 percent) The CMI is based on audience research data collected by Scarborough Research, New York City, to which NAA subscribes. Scarborough, a leading media/market research firm, measures 75 DMAs (including the top 50). Scarborough collects data via telephone interview and a mailed consumer survey booklet and seven-day TV diary. Scarborough collected fieldwork for Release Two 2002 from August 2001 through September 2002.