Circulation in the red as papers not read

Almost every newspaper and magazine in Australia recorded a drop in circulation in the last few months of 2012.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations figures show only two publications out of 118 - the Saturday West Australian (1.3 per cent) and Warwick's Daily News (4.8 per cent) - recorded a rise in circulation during the three months to December 31 when compared with the same period a year earlier.

Sunday papers remained the most popular, with News Limited's Sydney Sunday Telegraph in number one spot with an average circulation of 599,165, although this was down 3.2 per cent on a year earlier.

Other News Corporation owned tabloids filled the remainder of the top few spots, with Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun at number two with 514,671 copies distributed (down 5.7 per cent), the Monday-Friday Herald-Sun at three with 450,090 copies (down 4.7 per cent), and Saturday's Herald-Sun reporting 444,250 copies (down 5.4 per cent).

While the News stable were struggling with falling circulation across the board, Fairfax's publications were hit by steep declines in circulation.

Sydney's Sun Herald saw a 23 per cent slump in circulation to 313,477, with the Sunday Age off 14 per cent to 191,139.

The flagship Saturday editions of the Sydney Morning Herald and Age both saw circulation decline more than 13 per cent.

The Monday to Friday editions both fell even more steeply, with a 14.5 per cent decline.

Fairfax's Australian Financial Review had a smaller decline in readership - 3.3 per cent on the weekend and 7.7 per cent on weekdays.

Circulation of News Limited's flagship broadsheet, the Weekend Australian, dropped nearly 10 per cent, with the weekday edition dropping by more than 8 per cent.

The bureau is into its third quarter of recording digital sales, meaning there are no comparable figures from last year to look at the growth in online subscriptions.

However, the bureau says the Australian, which is now behind a paywall, had just under 40,000 paid digital sales.

Printed magazines fared little better than newspapers, with the two biggest weekly publications - Woman's Day and New Idea - recording a 5.8 and 4 per cent drop in circulation respectively.

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