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Canadian newspapers losing few readers, new figures show

While the U.S. newspaper industry continues to be awash in red ink, Canadian dailies are seeing milder declines.

Circulation numbers released yesterday show weekday sales for Canadian newspapers were nearly flat in the six months ended March 31. American newspapers, by contrast, had weekday declines of nearly 9 per cent, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Unlike in the United States, the ABC numbers are not representative of the entire industry in Canada. Three of this country's largest publishers decided in 2008 to track their circulation through another agency, the Canadian Circulations Audit Board. It now assesses roughly half of the dailies in Canada, including those published by Transcontinental Inc., Sun Media Corp. and Torstar Corp., which publishes Canada's largest-circulation daily, the Toronto Star.

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Of the papers that are still under ABC's examination, The Globe and Mail had the highest total paid circulation, at a weekday average of nearly 300,000, according to the numbers just released. That represented a drop of less than 1 per cent compared with last year. La Presse is the highest-circulation French-language newspaper, with 206,000 weekday copies.

The Globe also led the group in weekend circulation at nearly 370,000 copies, compared with 268,000 for La Presse.

The National Post showed the highest percentage gains in the six months ended March 31 compared with last year; its average weekday paid circulation was up 10 per cent, to 175,000. Three-quarters of the dailies in the ABC report lost circulation, though almost none had double-digit losses.

While the circulation numbers are not as grim as those in the U.S., Canadian newspapers have still experienced losses in advertising revenues. Readers everywhere are consuming more news online and on digital devices, said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., which publishes the annual State of the News Media report.

"The audiences in Canada and in the United States are gradually moving to digital platforms," Mr. Rosenstiel said in a recent interview. "And it's no clearer in Canada how to subsidize or monetize these digital platforms as the legacy media decline."

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Media and Marketing Reporter

Susan covers marketing and media for Report on Business. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2009, Susan worked as a freelance reporter contributing to the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette and other publications, as well as CBC Radio's Dispatches and Search Engine. She has a Masters degree in journalism from Carleton University. More

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