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Newsday circulation drops, price hike cited

As U.S. newspaper circulation continued to decline, an industry report showed Newsday, among the major newspapers, had the biggest percentage drop in average weekday circulation.

Newsday attributed the circulation loss largely to last December's increase in the newsstand price, which went from 75 cents to $1 for a weekday edition and $2 to $2.50 for the Sunday paper on Long Island.

The newspaper's weekday paid daily circulation for the six months ended in September fell to an average of 314,848 copies, 11.84 percent less than the average for the same period a year ago, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Newsday's Sunday paid circulation fell to 375,874, a 9.2 percent decrease.

"This period's result was driven primarily by a single-copy price increase at the end of last year," said Paul Fleishman, Newsday spokesman. "Our primary focus continues to be on home delivery on Long Island, our core market, which saw little impact."

Fleishman noted that Newsday, which is owned by Cablevision Systems Corp., advanced one position - to number 12 in daily circulation and to number 15 in Sunday circulation - among major newspapers. He also pointed out that Newsday is the highest-ranked newspaper of the top 25 in individually paid circulation - the most valued circulation, he said. Ninety-nine percent of all papers sold by Newsday are purchased directly by readers, not by third parties such as hotels or schools. Nationally for all newspapers, average weekday circulation dropped 5 percent compared with the same period last year. Sunday circulation fell 4.5 percent.

These declines are expected as newspapers focus on increasing their audience through online and mobile channels, said John F. Sturm, Newspaper Association of America president and chief executive.

Still, the drop was not as severe as it has been in past periods, reflecting an "easing of the recession for some papers," said John Morton, head of Morton Research Inc., a Silver Spring, Md.-based media consulting firm. Many papers also have been deliberately cutting distant circulation, resulting in circulation decreases.

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