Italian newspapers fighting for survival

Sales down by one million copies over five years

Italian newspapers fighting for survival

(By Elisa Cecchi) Rome, June 5 - Italian newspapers are in a struggle for survival amid waning sales at the stand and competition from digital media. Sales of dailies have fallen by one million copies over the past five years, according to a study on the Italian press released Wednesday by Fieg, Italy's federation of newspaper and magazine publishers. The report noted that daily newspaper sales dropped 6.6% in 2012 and 22% over the past five years. Though the Italian newspaper sector has consistently posted negative results for the past five years, 2012 was the first year during which a drop in readership was also recorded. Fieg's five-year analysis on the sector also highlighted that 2012 was the worst for advertising in two decades. Advertising dropped 14.3% from 2011 to under eight billion euros. Data on the first quarter of 2013 showed the crisis is worsening, Fieg said. Fieg President Giulio Anselmi, who is also the chairman of ANSA, on Wednesday called for a "radical reform" of the Italian press based on the combination between print and web "to prevent the expansion of new media from threatening traditional outlets". He also called on decision-makers to redefine incentives in order to support the sector. Overall, the report blamed the sector's dire prospects on the economic crisis, technological evolution which promoted the web - online media outlets were alone in posting growth revenues and a 5.3% hike in advertising - and structural limits including distribution. The positive results posted by online media outlets were however insufficient in countering the sector's drop in revenues, advertising, sold copies and, for the first time, readers. Daily newspaper publishers recorded a 9% drop in revenues while revenues from magazines fell by 9.5% in 2012. Daily newspaper sales have been shrinking since 2001, with the sole exception of 2006, and the situation has worsened since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, Fieg noted. If in 2012 sales dropped 6.6% - from 4,272 to 3,990 million copies - a 22% decrease has been registered since 2007 with 1,150 copies lost. Weeklies also lost 6.4% of copies - from 10,928 to 10,225 million - while monthlies registered an 8.9% drop - from 10,448 to 9,515 million. According to the latest survey by Audipress, which carries out polls on the publishing sector, there are 21.005 million daily-newspaper readers, with a 14.8% drop registered in 2012. (photo: Fieg President Giulio Anselmi)

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