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09. September 2003 | Die deutschen Zeitungen in Zahlen und Daten

2003 report on the situation of newspapers in Germany

Over three-fourths of the German population above the age of 14 (76.2 percent) regularly read a daily newspaper. That is equivalent to more than 49 million men and women. More local and regional newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by women (65.5 percent) than by men (64.0 percent). More newspapers purchased at newsstands and national newspapers delivered to subscribers are read by men (27.3 percent and 6.9 percent respectively) than by women (18.4 percent and 4.1 percent respectively).


In terms of age groups daily newspapers traditionally have their highest levels of audience penetration among persons in the 40-69 age range, i.e. between 80 and 85 percent. Nearly 83 percent of persons over the age of 70 regularly read a daily newspaper and more than 72 percent of those between the ages of 30 and 39 do so as well. The number of regular newspaper readers is lower in the younger age groups, but the levels of audience penetration are nonetheless still fairly high. More than 63 percent of the 20-29 age group are reached by newspapers and nearly 54 percent of young people between the ages of 14 and 19 are as well.


Over the past ten years numerous newspaper publishers have developed editorial material for young people with a view to evoking and maintaining their interest in reading newspapers. Several dozen newspapers now publish regular supplements for young readers with detailed information on scheduled events. They have also created special pages for young readers and offer a range of Internet activities tailored to the needs of this target group . By providing interesting on-line content publishers hope to be able to point out the qualities of printed newspapers to the Internet-oriented younger generation.


Overall decline in sales


In 2002 newspapers suffered a sharp loss in overall sales for advertising, supplements, and distribution compared with the previous year's figure, declining from 9.99 billion to 9.42 billion euros (a drop of 5.8 percent). Out of this overall sales figure daily newspapers accounted for 8.83 billion euros, a decline of 6.03 percent.


The continued weak economy in 2002 had a strong negative effect on newspaper publishers. The latter were once again unable to participate to any significant extent in the economic growth registered for the year, i.e. only 0.2 percent price-adjusted (down from the 0.6 percent registered for 2001). Advertising sales, traditionally the main source of income for newspapers and accounting for an average of two-thirds of the total, fell by 12.06 percent, a near repeat of the 13 percent drop registered in 2001. Circulation revenue rose by 3.61 percent, but this was far from enough to offset losses. The last time German newspapers experienced such strong declines in newspaper sales as those seen in 2001 and 2002 was at the end of the Second World War.


Trend in advertising sales


With advertising sales of 4.93 billion euros in 2002 (a decrease of -12.5 percent) daily newspapers continue to be the most important advertising medium by far. Advertising sales by weekly and Sunday newspapers declined from 287 to 268 million euros; advertising in newspaper supplements increased by around a million euros (+2.36 percent) to a total of 68 million euros. Total advertising sales for all newspaper categories amounted to 5.27 billion euros (-12.06 percent). The German advertising market continued to shrink in 2002. The average decline in sales for all advertising media was -7.5 percent. The share the newspaper industry had in overall advertising sales declined from 27 percent to 26 percent. In 2000 it had risen to a level of 29 percent.


Regional newspapers in western and eastern Germany showed total advertising sales of 4.12 billion euros for 2002. Advertising volume declined by -12.3 percent over the period from January to December 2002. Newspapers in western Germany showed a stronger decline in advertising volume (-12.4 percent) than those in eastern Germany (-10.8 percent). Not all advertising categories were affected to the same extent by the general negative trend shown in net advertising volume. While national advertisements (-13.2 percent) and job advertisements (-40.7 percent) showed above-average declines, car advertisements (-10.3 percent), real estate advertisements (-10.8 percent), miscellaneous advertisements (-7.9 percent), event advertisements (-4.2 percent), local business advertisements (-2.6 percent), and family advertisements (-1.8 percent) showed below-average declines. Travel advertisements showed an increase of +3.0 percent.


In the first half of 2003 the volume of paid advertisements in local and regional subscription newspapers declined by -8.7 percent compared with the same period the previous year. A positive trend was shown by national advertisements (+2.9 percent) and family advertisements (+0.3 percent). All other advertising categories showed declines in advertising volume over the period from January to June 2003: car advertisements (-10.0 percent), real estate advertisements (-12.4 percent), job advertisements (-41.7 percent), local business advertisements (-0.4 percent), travel advertisements (-0.3 percent), event advertisements (-11.4 percent), and miscellaneous advertisements (-3.0 percent).


The insert business manifested the same dissatisfactory trend in 2002 as most other advertising categories, showing a decline of -9.2 percent. Income from inserts showed a somewhat weaker decline in the first half of 2003, -3.2 percent compared with the same period the previous year (-3.4 percent in western Germany and -0.1 percent in eastern Germany).


Slight decline in circulation


Newspapers in Germany have a total circulation of 28.76 million copies per publication day (German Audit Bureau of Circulations, 2nd quarter 2003). The western German states account for 25.24 million copies and the eastern states for more than 3.4 million copies. This constitutes an average decline in circulation of 829,349 copies (-2.8 percent) in comparison with the same quarter the previous year.


Circulation levels declined only slightly in the western states, i.e. by -2.7 percent (-701,745 copies) as opposed to -3.5 percent (-127,604 copies) in the eastern states. Overall declines amounted to -2.14 percent for local/regional newspapers, -2.24 percent for national newspapers, -5.75 percent for newspapers sold at newsstands, and -3.80 percent for Sunday newspapers. Weekly newspapers registered an increase of +2.01 percent or just under 37,000 copies.


The sold circulation of all categories of newspapers breaks down into 22.6 million copies for daily newspapers, just under 4.3 million copies for Sunday newspapers, and nearly 1.9 million copies for weekly newspapers. Of the total figure for daily newspapers, 15.8 million copies are accounted for by local and regional subscription newspapers, more than 1.6 million by national newspapers, and over 5.1 million by newspapers sold at newsstands.