Circulation figures for the third quarter of this year show a decline in the total circulation of the two major English dailies and a pick up for Bukedde, the Luganda daily published by Vision Group (NVL).
According to figures released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa, Daily Monitor registered a 2.10% drop in total circulation between July and September compared to the previous quarter. New Vision’s copy sales also dropped 2.08% in the period. Bukedde sales however rose by 4.88%.
Daily Monitor sold an average of 18,652 newspaper copies in the quarter versus 19,052 copies in the second quarter, while New Vision’s circulation was 27,859 copies compared to 28,451 copies between April and June. Bukedde’s sales rose to 19,608 in Q3 after dropping to 18,695 in Q2.
New Vision however managed to sell more copies of its Sunday paper in the period. The total circulation of Sunday Vision rose 0.72% to 18,571 copies compared to 18,439 in Q2. Sunday Monitor’s sales declined by 8.55% to an average of 12,150 copies from 13,286 in the previous period.
New Vision and Bukedde are published by New Vision Printing and Publishing Company Ltd (NVL), which is listed on the Uganda Securities Exchange. The company registered a 5.76% decline in profit in the 2015-16 financial year due to higher costs.
The company revamped pullouts in its major daily, New Vision, and its weekend versions to contain the decline in circulation. Sales of New Vision declined in the first quarter, but picked up in the second.
It’s Bukedde that registered the steeper decline in the year, however. At one point, the Luganda language tabloid was Uganda’s most popular newspaper, with a total circulation of 39,413 in the second quarter of 2015 versus 29,853 for New Vision and 19,745 for Daily Monitor. The fall in its sales started when Bukedde’s cover price was increased to Shs1,500 from Shs1,000 starting July 2015. But this September the company reversed the decision and returned to the old price.
Monitor Publications, a subsidiary of the Nairobi-listed Nation Media Group, has also recently introduced a number of measures that aim to increase the circulation of its newspaper. It entered into a partnership with Jumia Food, the food ordering website and app, in which the newspaper is sold on Jumia’s platforms. It also decided to delay online publication of newspaper stories so website readers – long used to getting everything in the paper for free on its website – can buy the newspaper instead.
It’s too early to tell what effect the measures are having on Monitor’s circulation. But there is a precedent for the second strategy, and it is not very rosy. New Vision has been doing what Monitor is doing with its website for over two years now, but its total circulation has not exceeded 30,000. And, as the latest figures show, it is not immune to falls.