Latest audited circulation figures reveal the sales of several key mainstream Malay and English papers have dropped.
Comparing peninsula figures for the second half of 2010 against the figure a year earlier (covering the period 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009), the circulation of NST fell by 7 per cent, Berita Harian by 7 per cent, The Star by 3 per cent, while Utusan held steady.
The Malay gossip tabloids, Metro and Kosmo, bucked the trend and actually rose. (The Metro is the largest selling paper with circulation in excess of 400000.) So did the circulation of most of the Chinese-language newspapers.
Over the last four years, circulation of the NST has plunged by 27 per cent, Berita Harian by 26 per cent, Utusan 19 per cent, and The Star 10 per cent.
Over in Sabah, circulation of the top-selling Daily Express fell by 8 per cent over the last year.
In Sarawak, the Borneo Post, See Hua Daily News and Utusan Borneo all registered gains.
If you look only at sales at the full cover price (excluding those sold at a discount or given out free), then the NST’s average net sales were only 71805 copies late last year compared to 103369 five years ago (see table below) – a drop of 30 per cent. Similarly, sales at full cover price of Berita Harian have plunged from 184998 five years ago to 118520 last year – a fall of 36 per cent. Sales of the The Star have also fallen from 280941 to 247661 – a 12 per cent decline.
All three papers have also increased, in varying degrees, their sales at reduced price to around 30000 copies each (see first graph). In contrast, Utusan appears to have slashed its reduced rate sales from over 12000 copies in 2009 to 7000 copies in 2010.
Utusan sales at full rate have also fallen from 207006 five years ago to 164764 last year – a fall of 20 per cent.