Survey shows `Irish Times' readership up


Independent Newspapers will be disappointed at the performance of many of its titles in the annual readership survey, published yesterday. The figures for the year to June 1998 show that only the Sunday World and the Sunday Tribune, of all the national newspapers either owned by or in which Independent Newspapers has an interest, recorded an increase.

The Sunday World is up 13,000 to 981,000, and the Sunday Tribune up 2,000 to 258,000.

The Irish Times is up by 3,000 readers to 286,000, the Sunday Business Post by 34,000 to 141,000 and the Evening Echo (Cork) by 9,000 to 72,000. Ireland On Sunday scored a very creditable 138,000. A comparison with a previous year was not possible for Ireland On Sunday as this was the first full year in which the newspaper could be included.

The Irish Independent is down by 23,000 readers to 589,000; the Star down 7,000 to 369,000, the Evening Herald down 50,000 to 343,000 and the Sunday Independent down 36,000 to 1,116,000 readers. The Examiner is down by 11,000 readers to 211,000.

A degree of caution is needed when looking at readership figures as they do not always reflect the health of a publication as indicated by circulation figures. Readership figures are influenced by factors such as size of families or whether purchasers are working in factories, where a newspaper might be passed around, or an office, where only one person sees it. They are unlike circulation figures, which are an actual measurement.

The research, carried out by Lansdowne Market Research for the Joint National Readership Research (JNRR), was financed by the newspaper and advertising industries. It is used by advertisers when planning campaigns and by media buyers looking to place advertising in order to reach particular markets more effectively.

Unofficial circulation figures for the Irish Independent, for instance, show that for the six months to June this year there was an increase in sales on the same period last year, from 158,005 to 162,064. The same is true of the Examiner and Star.

When the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) publishes the official circulation figures later this month they will show The Irish Times, Star, Examiner, Sunday Tribune, Sunday World, Irish Independent and Sunday Business Post are all up. The Irish Times, at 111,243, will show the highest sales in its history.

However, looking again at readership rather than circulation, the Irish Independent is down in the important ABC1 category by 9,000, while The Irish Times has increased by 10,000.

The Irish Times is read by slightly more women than men and scores best in the age group 35 to 44. Slightly more men than women read the Irish Independent.

The Star also has more men that women readers. The Examiner, despite seeking a broader market, retains 96.7 per cent of its readers in its traditional Munster base.

The Sunday Independent has more women than men readers. More than half its readers live in urban areas. Some 28 per cent live in Munster, while Dublin has 26 per cent.

The Sunday World has slightly more women readers than men, and is most popular in Dublin and the rest of Leinster. It has a strong rural readership of 48.6 per cent.

The Sunday Business Post is mainly urban and Dublin, with 83 per cent of its readers in the ABC1 social category. The Sunday Tribune is also very heavily urban and Dublin. It scores well in the ABC1 group.

More than half of Ireland On Sunday's readership are men. It is mainly urban, with 54.3 per cent living in urban areas.

Meanwhile, the readership figures were considered a good result for the newspaper industry as a whole. National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI), the representative body for Irish national newspapers, said in a statement the research showed that the vast majority of Irish people looked to indigenous Irish newspapers as their primary source of news, views and information in an increasingly competitive media market.