Sun’s circulation down 35% from mid-1990s peak

The Sun’s circulation has fallen 35 per cent since its mid-1990s peak. The trend, in keeping with that of other national newspapers, has come at a time when the Internet has become more influential than TV and newspapers.

According to a News International Circulation Reports Archive, quoted on wikipedia, the “highest ever one-day sale at full price was on 30 March, 1996″ when it hit 4,783,359. This was under a year before The Sun announced their support for Tony Blair.

According to ABC figures reported by NMA UK the average daily circulation in August 2009 was 3,128,501. This is 35 per cent below the mid-1990s peak.

Reaction to The Sun’s decision to back the Conservative Party has focused on whether they lead or follow shifts in public opinion. Roy Greenslade writes:

“The Sun is following its readership, once again seeking to back a surefire winner rather than daring to take any political risk.”

Peter Kellner of YouGov told Sky News

“Although The Sun newspaper is a great weather vane, it doesn’t decide the direction of the wind.”

Sunder Katwala on Next Left quotes academic John Curtice who writes:

“There was little evidence that newspapers had much impact on the aggregate outcome of elections. Between 1987-92 and 1992-5 the net movement of voting preferences amongst the whole electorate was very similar to what happened amongst those who did not read a newspaper at all … when it comes to the outcome of elections, the disposition of the press does not make much difference at all.”

The timing has also come under scrutiny with suggestions that the decision had been made days before Brown made his speech.

13 Responses to “Sun’s circulation down 35% from mid-1990s peak”

  1. Will Straw

    The Sun’s circulation is down 35% on their mi-1990s peak http://bit.ly/3zViK2

  2. Swagata

    All the evidence suggests The Sun does not lead popular opinion, it follows it. In other words Britain is backing The Conservatives instead of Labour these days. It doesn’t really matter if The Sun changes its stance because Britain has already changed.

    It reminds me of French revolutionary Ledru-Rollin’s quote: “There goes the mob. I am their leader. I must follow them.” Murdoch knows it pays to follow majority opinion.

  3. Peter Orlov

    Are the Sun’s circulation figures really the story here? Or is this another example of the fine “evidence-based” reporting that we so love? Seriously guys… *unsubscribe*

  4. dave

    you all say your not bothered about the sun yet you all are banging on about it this morning.your gutted

  5. Political Scrapbook

    RT @wdjstraw: The Sun's circulation is down 35% on their mid-1990s peak http://bit.ly/3zViK2

  6. Tom Scholes-Fogg

    RT @wdjstraw: The Sun’s circulation is down 35% on their mid-1990s peak http://bit.ly/3zViK2

  7. Henry

    It’s only the inflated vanity of journalists that lead them to believe they can influence peoples’ votes (check out the pomposity of today’s Sun). And the media is drivelling on about this because, hey, it’s about them & their little village.

  8. Luke

    Unfortunately it is not so much who ‘reads’ the paper, but whoever remembers the headline. After all, I don’t think everyone who comes across the Sun on a daily basis necessarily reads the paper. I’m sure they just respond to the headline they see.

    It is worrying because James Murdoch is laying out his agenda to woo the Tories into ‘reforming’ the BBC and the license fee. Clearly the Tories have promised something to News Internaional in return for an early (8 months early!) endorsement of Cameron and the Conservatives.

    The next few months will see increasingly negative headlines regarding not just Brown (who has very much been the fool for the Sun), but in fact the whole of the Labour Party.

    No one is safe from the Sun’s headlines.

  9. Jason Bradley

    True, the Sun’s readership is down (along with every other newspaper) as the Internet becomes more influential.

    However, try typing ‘Gordon Brown’ or “New Labour’ into Youtube, Facebook, Twitter or Google more generally and you’ll find a set of results that makes the Sun’s coverage look toadying. Even the top blog for lefties – Labourlist – dominated by bile from fed-up New Labour supporters like me.

    Still at least this strategy of dismissing the Sun’s point of view is consistent New Labour : Don’t ever bother to question whether it’s the policies or leadership at fault, simply rubbish and smear the messenger.

  10. rodders

    Cameron will, if elected, have to pay for this support with a regulatory framework more favourable to the ambitions of News Corp.

  11. Diana Railton

    RT @JoshFeldberg Sun’s circulation down 35% from mid-1990s peak http://bit.ly/4a3lW9

  12. davegarland

    Sun’s circulation down 35% from mid-1990s peak | Left Foot Forward http://bit.ly/4dQ83I

  13. Fabienne

    @MichaelCox re: lost circulation under Labour, check this: http://j.mp/8ocB4U

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