Internet bites into US newspaper pie
May 9, 2007 - 11:26:22 AM

New York, May 9 - Media czar Rupert Murdoch's surprise $5 billion bid for Dow Jones & Co, which publishes the Wall Street Journal -, comes at a time when circulations of major newspapers in the US have been plunging because readers and advertisers are increasingly migrating to the Internet.

According to the latest figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations of the country, the average daily circulation for 770 newspapers fell by 2.8 percent in the six-month period ending Sep 30, 2006, from the comparable period last year.

Among the worst losers is the Los Angeles Times, down eight percent on weekdays and six percent on Sundays. The circulation of the New York Times fell by 3.5 percent. The Washington Post, too, saw a similar decline. WSJ's year-old Weekend Edition lost 6.7 percent of its circulation from the time it started, though the paper overall held steady.

One of the major gainers is the New York Post, a tabloid owned by Murdoch, which posted a rise of over five percent to reach the 725,000 figure.

At this time of churning for the print media, besides WSJ, LA Times and the Boston Globe, too, have been in the news lately. LA paper's owner, Tribune Company, is looking at offers from private equity firms. Jack Welch, the former president of General Electric, has shown interest in buying the Globe.

Newspaper circulations have been falling slowly for decades, but it is the accelerating pace of the fall now that is alarming the industry. The Newspaper Association of America was quoted as saying that the figures for the latest period were 'the largest variance year over year' of which it was aware.

Of course, the newspapers' own websites are gaining readers rapidly, but so far they account for only a small percentage of overall revenues, and it may take years before they can compensate for the fall of revenue of their print parents.

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