All Umno newspapers on the slide

Going down…sales drop after the 2013 elections

A sales plunge of 72,000 copies a day has placed Harian Metro in danger of dropping out of the major league of Malaysian daily newspapers and suffering the same fate as other Umno-owned dailies which were long ago knocked off their perch as heavyweights.

The tabloid’s formula of sex, scandal, gossip and sensation took sales to a peak of almost 400,000 but its steady decline since then may leave it coming off second best to The Star and Sin Chew Daily, both of which have held steady. The Star hovers just below the 300,000 mark with average sales at June 2014 of 291,068. Sin Chew suffered a post-election decline to 363,659.

Harian Metro sales were only 22,600 more than the Star in the middle of last year: if the slide continues at the same rate since the elections, it might be selling less than the Star this time next year. This is the current situation:

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ABC explains missing Star figures in audit report

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 The Audit Bureau of Circulation have updated their tables for 2010-2011 newspaper sales and circulation, filling in the missing figures for The Star and correcting those for Kosmo in which the figures for the daily and the Sunday had been transposed.

The bureau said a glitch in internal procedures had caused the incomplete report to be released while the audit committee had sought an explanation from the Star.

The official report, posted online since Nov 22, did not include figures for the Star’s sales for the 2010-2011 period because the ABC audit committee had asked for further explanations on the increase reported for the first half of 2011, which went against the trend of the past few years.

The Star’s daily sales have been sliding since 2005 but for the first half of this year, the Star submitted figures that showed an increase of 10,000 copies in average daily sales over the six months.

ABC asked Star to explain rise of 10,000

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Chinese newspapers reaching saturation point?

Chinese papers seem to top table, but Rita leaves out some figures

More Malaysian Chinese read newspapers than members of the other communities, and a greater number of Chinese-language newspapers are sold than newspapers in other languages, according to Rita Sim in her column at the NST yesterday.

She says the greater penetration of the Chinese-language press in the community reflects the strictly non-partisan flavour of the newspapers to satisfy an almost fanatical following which, she says, is also more openly critical of their newspapers.

Although Rita contends that Chinese-language newspapers sell more copies, and that more Malaysia Chinese than others read newspapers, she relies on ABC figures alone for her argument.

She does not take into account the newspapers sold which are not audited by ABC. The largest of these is Sinar Harian, which has a following of an estimated 120,000-plus copies and some of the smaller Malay weeklies. Adding those figures to the ABC totals would show a larger universe of Malay-language newspaper sales. (All Chinese papers submit to ABC. However the Tamil section includes only Makkal Osai, and not Malaysia Nanban or Tamil Nesan, which do not submit figures and the English section does not include Malay Mail and Malaysian Reserve.) Kwong Wah Jit Poh of Penang also does not submit to audit.

Rita, a policy analyst and researcher, was until recently executive director of Sin Chew. She doesn’t give a source for her readership figures, but the 2010 half-year ABC (circulation audit) figures show a market penetration of exactly 25 per cent: one of four adult Malaysia Chinese buys a Chinese-language newspaper.

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Sunday tabloids soar, senior titles sink

Figures for each paper in the table at the foot of the page

By Gobind Rudra

The racy Sunday tabloids are continuing to streak far ahead as the senior Malay-language titles continue to suffer falling circulation sales.The Audit Bureau of Circulation’s half-yearly report shows Metro Ahad well in front and closing in on the half-million mark once held by former market leader Mingguan Malaysia.

Surprisingly, the Mingguan has held steady in the half year, after crashing into sharp decline after 2008, and is not likely to see any major slippage in the full year figures. That will infuriate opposition politicians whose anger at the Mingguan’s strident editorial tone may be heightened that by the knowledge that its stridency does not seem to have hurt its sales and may in fact have stemmed the bleeding.

Berita Minggu, on the other hand, continues to lose market share in its parallel fall since 2008 and has the Utusan tabloid Kosmo breathing down its neck; the full ABC report is likely to show the tabloid ahead over the year.

Pundits have been gleefully pointing to poor or skewed editorial content in Mingguan and Berita Minggu, especially their near-hysterical reactions after the Barisan Nasional’s disastrous showing at the elections, as the reason for the sales slump. A more convincing reason might be the difference in cover price between the tabloids and the seniors (the two tabloids sell for 80 sen less at RM1.20 each), and especially the racier content of the tabloids in attracting readers from among the burgeoning young middle-class.

Angst in the cultural heartland

In October last year: media professionals Zam, Chamil and Adi Satria cooled the academic fever

The sales slump of the major papers over the past two years caused much angst among Malay-language nationalists, leading to a major Utusan-sponsored forum at UiTM bemoaning cultural loss: it was left to media heavyweights such as Zainuddin Maidin and Chamil Wariya on the panel to pooh-pooh these fears and to point to the worldwide phenomena of down-market breezy tabloids generally heading sales charts. » On the survival of Malay newspapers and » Day of the Malay Newspaper Is Over.

While the angst may have dissipated somewhat, there remains the problem of editorial credibility in winning over crucial election votes. But that’s another story.

Redberry going for the low-hanging fruit?

On the two English-language front, no such angst is being felt at the Sunday Star’s gentle slide over the past two years, and continued bleeding at the New Sunday Times whose figures, as with the daily, are propped up by reliance on bulk sales. Given the current market conditions, the Malay Mail’s announced relaunch as a paid urban market centre morning newspaper might seem to be foolhardy in bucking the trend.

It might be that Phillip Karuppiah and Terence Fernandez discern a gap that others have missed. Or on the other hand it could also be a bold gamble by Redberry boss Siew Ka Wah to bolster his standing with his political patron Najib Tun Razak. If so, he would be throwing his millions to add another editorial vehicle to the Barisan Nasional’s armoury in its desperate need to recover lost ground in the urban heartland: Penang, Ipoh, the Klang Valley and Johor.

The Sunday sales table

The Edge, although not a Sunday paper, is lumped in with the rest as ABC regards the group as weekly papers.

Text and graphics © 2011. All rights reserved

Metro, Sin Chew top newspaper sales chart

Harian Metro has overtaken Sin Chew Daily as the largest-circulating daily newspaper in West Malaysia with both papers showing gains over 2009 sales. The Star is holding its own on the third rung, although its sales have been slipping. The New Straits Times continues to slip, with bulk sales of almost 30,000 propping up sales to barely above 100,000 a day.

The once-proud NST is now third from the bottom of the table, with only the Guang Ming and Makkal Osai behind it. Some of these figures were published in this blog earlier this year, in an advance look at the ABC figures. » ABC Sneak Peek

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NST drops to 73,000, B.Minggu loses 30% (ABC sneak peek)

ADVANCE LOOK at some ABC figures for 2010

report and graphics by uppercaise

• NST sells only 73,000 on the street
• Berita Minggu loses 90,000 copies over three years

These charts are based on figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation report for July-December 2010 newspaper sales. An image of an advance report to publishers was emailed anonymously to this blog. I have not seen the full report myself, but the image looks genuine enough — and the report will be out soon anyway. (ABC compiles and audits newspaper circulation figures.)
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Metro, Sin Chew are tops, NST bottoms below 80,000

Kosmo daily and Sunday overtake fading Utusan Malaysia

Metro Ahad tops nett sales table for all newspapers

Sin Chew keeps up steady annual increase in sales

NST daily and Sunday fall to bottom of table

NST daily nett below 80,000, with 30,000 in bulk sales

uppercaise graphic / source: Audit Bureau of CirculationNett daily newspaper sales league table 2010

Malaysian newspapers ranked by average nett daily sales, July 2009 to June 2010

by uppercaise
Something to smile about? Newspapers still sell, with Metro, Kosmo, and the Chinese-language papers all up. But the traditional big boys are falling behind.

Bad news, then, for Utusan Malaysia, as it continues on its rampage as the bad boy of journalism for its actions against Hata Wahari — not to mention what Awang Selamat does.

Metro Ahad and Sin Chew top the league table in nett average sales.

New Sunday Times and New Straits Times prop up the bottom, just ahead of the freebie Malaysian Today and the weekly Edge. (See also what Dato Sakmongkol says. Extract below.)
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On the survival of Malay newspapers

At ITM Shah Alam this morning, two former chief editors, a social activist, and several academics will be discussing the decline of the heavyweight Malay newspapers in light of their falling sales, now overtaken by the popular sensational tabloids.

Sexy tabloids overtake Umno’s big two: the uppercaise report last month

Former Utusan Malaysia chief editor Zam (Zainuddin Maidin) and former Bernama chief, Azman Ujang, are the two journalists at the forum, which will be covered live in text updates by Utusan Online.

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Sexy tabloids overtake Umno’s big two

Though politicians have been keeping track of political coverage in traditional heavyweights Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian, both Umno-owned, it is the tabloids that are setting the sales pace. Kosmo and Harian Metro have both eclipsed the circulation and reach of their big stable-mates, whose sales have been in steady decline since 2004.

Fuelled by sex and scandal, the two tabloids have surged ahead. Metro, launched in March 1991, overtook the two big guns in 2004 and now sells as much as BH and Utusan combined. Kosmo, launched in 2004, had a long way to catch up, but overtook the two heavyweights on their way down in 2009 and is now ahead.

While the sensational propelled the tabloids, political sensation has done little for the big two as they continue to wage political war on the Pakatan Rakyat opposition, on behalf of Umno.

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Journalists’ union to fight for press freedom

As newspaper sales plunge, growing fear of the Internet

Professional concerns and journalistic ethics are to get a renewed emphasis at the NUJ, the journalists’ union, following the election of a new president, Hata Wahari (Mohd Ha’ta Wahari) of Utusan Malaysia.

On taking office yesterday at the NUJ delegates’ conference, Hata said the new NUJ executive council would look beyond “bread and butter” issues and would urge the government to liberalise media laws, especially those that affected newspapers. He had also promised in his campaign statement to set up a presidential council to uphold ethics, especially on coverage of issues concerning race and religion.
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