Sunday Circ Fell 6.6% for Six Months Ended March 31

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Newsday’s latest circulation audit revealed today that the Long Island paper’s average paid weekday circulation fell to 439,708 during the six months that ended March 31, down 8.8% from the period one year earlier. Paid Sunday circulation totaled 506,177, down 6.6%.

The audit is the third of four being performed semiannually, instead of annually, while the paper is under censure from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Newsday admitted in June 2004 that it had overstated daily circulation figures by more than 7%, or about 100,000 copies a day. The audit bureau officially censured Newsday that July for “circumvention of ABC’s bylaws and rules.”

The paper’s owner, Tribune Co., set aside $90 million to compensate advertisers and has reached settlements with most. The federal government later arrested several former Newsday employees and charged them with mail fraud.

Twice-yearly audits
Any censured publication must submit to twice-yearly audits for two years, is omitted from the FAS-FAX circulation compendium for one year and has to submit a plan of corrective action to the bureau.

Timothy Knight, Newsday publisher, told employees in a memo today that the paper had reduced its use of certain distributors and hawkers outside of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens counties, ended subscription sales programs that relied on heavy discounting and focused on home delivery and single copy sales at the expense of discounted or free bulk distribution.

“Much of the decline can be attributed to our business decisions to concentrate on our core market and on quality circulation that is most valued by our advertisers,” Mr. Knight said in the memo.

Newsday said last month it would slash coverage of New York City and offer 45 editorial employees buyout packages.

The latest circulation figures pale compared to those filed by Newsday for the six months that ended March 31, 2003. That report claimed average paid weekday circulation of 579,351 and paid Sunday circulation of 665,324.

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