Staid papers suffer as gossip sells

By Yow Hong Chieh
The Malaysian Insider
Dec 31, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Newspaper circulation in the country maintained its downward slide this year as readers continue to shun hard news in government-controlled titles for more sensationalist tabloids.

Circulation of local media mainstays — The Star, New Straits Times, Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian — has fallen over the past five years, in some cases dramatically so. Scandal sheets, however, remain largely popular and in some cases far outselling more traditional rags which helped advertising expenditure grow 22 per cent to RM3.5 billion for the first half of 2010.

Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures for the full year ended June 30, 2010 show The Star’s circulation dropping from 295,479 to 286,409 (-3.1 per cent), the New Straits Times from 120,770 to 109,341 (-9.5 per cent), Utusan Malaysia from 181,346 to 170,558 (-5.9 per cent) and Berita Harian from 183,187 to 160,597 (-28.7 per cent).

Sales of the four newspapers have been falling these past five years, with all but The Star registering drops of 20 per cent or more between 2005 and 2009.

So-called “light reading” newspapers like Malay-language Harian Metro and Kosmo, on the other hand, continue to go from strength to strength, posting higher sales numbers this past year on top of already impressive circulation numbers.

Kosmo was the biggest winner with a massive 32.9 per cent jump in circulation from 129,633 last year to 172,252 this year. Harian Metro also managed to chalk up an impressive 11.8 per cent rise in circulation to 378,354.

The weekend editions of both newspapers, Kosmo Ahad and Metro Ahad, saw similar increases of 35.1 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively.

All Chinese-language papers managed slight single-digit bumps in sales this past year, with the exception of Guang Ming Daily which slipped by 2.67 per cent to 95,158.

Circulation for Sin Chew Daily went up from 374,757 to 382,578 (2.1 per cent), China Press from 159,034 to 160,841 (1.1 per cent) and Oriental Daily News from 97,882 to 103,827 (6.1 per cent).

Free paper The Sun recorded a 4.38 per cent boost in circulation from 287,935 to 300,512.

Bulk sales — the practice of selling bundles of copies at discounted rates for distribution in schools, airplanes and hotels — now make up a slightly higher proportion of average net sales per publishing day for mainstream papers.

Reduced rate sales for The Star went up from 8 to 10 per cent of total sales, the New Straits Times from 23 per cent to 27 per cent, Utusan Malaysia from 6 per cent to 7 per cent and Berita Harian from 13 per cent to 19 per cent.

In contrast, bulk sales for Kosmo, Harian Metro and Chinese-language dailies constituted one per cent or less of daily average sales.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 9:43 am

    The current decline in sales of the country’s major newspapers could be due to free news provided by the new media (the Internet). I think newspaper circulation will go up again (albeit not drastically) if such free news providers start charging readers for accessing their websites.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 9:45 am

  3. #3 by monsterball on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 10:22 am

    Had political news are fair and impartial..newspapers like S.Times and Star will be working hard to compete against each other.
    S.Times ..the mighty old paper is killed by UMNO B…and why not..they also killed the afternoon paper….the Malay Mail.
    Anything managed by UMNO B must involve…race and double standards.
    Star is managing due to the horse racing…4 digits results published…sports…and death column….plus special sections goods for general and reading and general knowledge.
    And I buy only Star to read general news….and usually ignore political news.
    They say ball pens will replace fountain pens completely for decades …yet fountain pens are still selling well.
    I insist on all my children to write personal notes with fountain pens…as almost..all professionals in the world..write with ink pens than with balls pens.
    Newspapers will never die…no matter how much growth in Internet news. It is personal and like reading a book.

  4. #4 by dagen on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 10:39 am

    I finally decided to dump the Star last year. With that I now hv no newspaper at home or in the office. Instead I rely on info published in the WWW. They are cheap and very accessible. More importantly, I can express my views (whether people are interested to read them or not) and interact with other visitors to the sites.

    So umno, just buzz off will ya.

  5. #5 by limkamput on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 11:44 am

    Just to draw some inferences from the trends:
    Those who dump the main stream papers, particularly the English papers, are people already in the know. They will not make much of the difference whether they read or not. The problem is those continue reading the main stream papers are the ones who will get influenced. Average Malaysians I must say know very little on what is going on the country. Whatever little time they have, they probably spend it on watching Chinese or Korean movies or reading the Metro or Kosmos. I got the feeling that those who come here and to other blogs and news portals are not representative samples of average Malaysians. They are in the cutting edge of change and their roles are very important to help further the cause of PR (in terms of information dissemination). But as I can see, many PR cyber warriors are also getting a bit tired unlike the heyday before the 2008 general election. They are unappreciated, in fact at times treated shabbily by the blog owners, especially after their success in March 2008. Whatever we write carry weight because each us has come here with his/her unique experience and ideas.

  6. #6 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 12:31 pm

    Datuk Seri Rais Yatim should sue all those blogs and online journalists for suggesting that he is a rapist!!! It’s so, so, so,… very, very, very…. embarrassing!

    Look, everyone should know that a man of his age is incapable of rape….unless, of course, he is viagra-poopping. So, prima facie No Case and No Further Action.

    Still, Rais, my friend, sue to clear your name or be forever damned in the public eye. Take a leaf from Anwar Ibrahim whom you so criticise. He is suing everyone who defames him – from ex-PM Tun M to deputy ministers like …what’s that wee name again?

    ….unless, of course, your name isn’t worth as much.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 1:06 pm

    a man of his age is incapable of….Incapable?
    Anwar was more than 60 years old in 2008 when he was accused of forcible “lee-what” on a 25 year old sweet young thing by the name of thai poh…..

  8. #8 by dagen on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 1:19 pm

    Rais the rapist? Oh dear. I am not saying he is one. But really he ought to follow jib’s footstep. Just swear on the koran and his name will be cleared “cara-umno”. That is what he ought to do.

    But then, again I am not saying that he is the rapist, he could get kerismudin bin lembudin do defend him, if necessary. You see the rape he committed is a good rape and not a bad rape. So he is still alright for having committed a good rape.

    And what the heck! Let us not forget. Has any report been made to the police? End of issue, isnt it? “Kami tidak boleh buat sebarang siasatan tanpa lapuran polis.”

    Kalau pun ada laporan polis, the laporan may go missing in the hands of the AG, or changed/modified. So nothing to fear. No charges will be preferred, Rais. Relak.

    If due to political pressure and as a consequence charges were indeed preferred still not a problem, old man. Mahkamah tu umno-controlled. Ia berkaki dua dan loncat serupa kangaroo.

    And if you name is tarnished by the matter and no longer suitable to be in politics, aiyah better mah. Umno will make you corporate leader or vice-chancellor of something.

    That is why he is taking it so easy.

  9. #9 by johnnypok on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 1:38 pm

    Those who still reads the papers are stupid bodohs, idiots, and HP6 no brain …

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 1:53 pm

    Hey, this bloke u guys are accusing of being a rapist has a Ph.D in law from the oh-so-famous University of London. One point is clear: no one is exempt from his libido, not even if you are a Ph.D or a PM. You see your libido is like your signature; it’s part of you, part of your DNA.

    So don’t play, play, ok?

    U could lose your pants and eveerything in it when a Ph.D in law decides to sue.

    Ok, Rais, so what are you waiting for? Sue the blogs!

  11. #11 by k1980 on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 4:27 pm

    I phoned my buddy Sherlock Holmes as to who the rapist is, and this is what he said, “When you eliminate all other possibilities, what remains, no matter how improbable, is the answer.”

  12. #12 by undertaker888 on Friday, 31 December 2010 - 8:02 pm

    for the past 2 days on the front page of the Star, bolehland football team won the suzuki cup. my goodness, playing against indonesia, vietnam, laos, cambodia.

    it is like being in standard 4 for 20 years and never progress and beating 1st time 4th graders. on top of the icing, declared public holidays. what a crock. imagine if we qualify for the world cup. 1 month holiday i think.

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 1 January 2011 - 11:07 am

    You really have to wonder why Utusan is the trash paper that it is and still unable to sell..Rupert Murdoch would kill to be able to do what Utusan get away with..Seriously, the level of mediocrity is just incomprehensible…

  14. #14 by monsterball on Saturday, 1 January 2011 - 7:25 pm

    Those who still read he papers are not stupid.
    It is which paper one have to choose from all those political trash published.
    I need to choose Star to look up sports and obituaries…world news…and my children are taught to read general news for knowledge….besides sitting whole day at a computer.
    I then go to view all the news from bloggers and compare notes.
    for my thoughts to comment.
    It is a good training to youngsters to read novels too…as holding up a paper is more personal than sitting down reading from a computer.
    We can hate papers being controlled and boycott them for political reasons….but do not mix up a good habit thrown away like an idiot.

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Sunday, 2 January 2011 - 7:49 am

    Ppl who use public jamban r dying 4 papers 2 wipe their U-no-what after their U-no-what
    Our msm will b useful there, at least

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