More headaches for Murdoch as Times drops below 500,000

The latest ABC figures show that all the quality dailies saw their circulations fall in August, no doubt due to a combination of the holiday period and the inexorable pressure of the internet.

But News International will be the most concerned, with the circulation of the Times falling below half a million for the first time since 1994. Its figures were 1.67 per cent down on July, at 494,205.

This is just a further indication that Rupert Murdoch’s paywall strategy is not working.

News International started charging for editorial content at the start of July and executives at the group would have expected their print editions to get a small boost from people who couldn’t be bothered to sign up for online content but would buy the papers off the news stands as and when they felt like it.

Not that NI is alone in feeling the pain. The Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Independent all hit five-month lows in their circulations, with the Guardian down 1.85 per cent to 272,112 and the Telegraph 0.79 per cent to 673,010.

The difference is that these groups both have millions of online readers, while estimates for the Times and Sunday Times website have run as low as 15,000.

It all adds up to yet more headaches for Rupert.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.