Fairfax to start metered access.
THE main newspaper publishers say digital subscriber sales for the September quarter have increased as print editions continue to decline.
It was the first time that both major newspaper groups - the owner of this paper, Fairfax Media, and News Ltd - reported fully audited mastheads sales, including print and digital, said the industry group the Newspaper Works.
"The multi-platform publishing strategies being pursued by the major newspaper publishers have produced a very promising picture of newspaper circulations,'' said Newspaper Works chief executive Tony Hale.
Fairfax's metro mastheads, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, reported 56,559 weekday digital subscribers and 31,502, respectively, for the period covering July to September.
More importantly, the Fairfax metro mastheads continued to dominate the Roy Morgan total masthead readership survey for the quarter ending September 2012. The Herald topped the multi-platform measure of readership while The Age came in fourth-highest. News Ltd's national masthead, The Australian, reported its audited digital subscriber numbers for the first time, with 31,241 average net paid weekday digital subscribers for the same period. The Australian put a paywall on its website in October last year, News Ltd's Melbourne masthead, the Herald Sun, followed in March this year. It did not report its digital subscriber numbers for the September quarter, but a News spokesman said: ''We would expect to release those in the next quarter.''
Fairfax will start metered access early next year along the lines of The New York Times site, with free access to a set number of items before readers are asked to subscribe.
Fairfax, which has been stripping out unprofitable newspaper sales, recorded the biggest falls in print. According to the Audit Bureau, weekday circulation of The Herald is down 15.1 per cent year on year, while The Sun-Herald declined 21.3 per cent.
The Age weekday is down 16.9 per cent year on year, while The Sunday Age is down 15.4 per cent.
News Corp reported the weekday sales of The Australian down 4.6 per cent, and its weekend edition dropped 5.6 per cent. The Herald Sun dropped 4.4 per cent in weekday circulation, and 5.7 per cent on Sunday.
The author owns Fairfax Media shares.