House of Lords Press Release

Embargo: 00:01 Friday 21 December 2007
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Communications Committee has today published evidence from the National Readership Survey (NRS) showing long term trends in national newspaper readership. The Committee commissioned the data as part of its inquiry into Media Ownership and the News.

The figures, published on the Committee's website, look at readership of the top ten national daily newspapers in Great Britain between 1992 and 2006 . They show a decline in the overall number of people, and the proportion of the population, who read a hardcopy of a national daily newspaper.

The overall number of adults reading at least one of the top ten national daily newspapers on an average day reduced by 19% between 1992 and 2006 (from 26.7 million to 21.7 million).

If the increase in the adult population over this period is taken into account then the data show a 24% decrease in overall population reach: 59% of adults read one or more national daily newspapers in 1992, while 45% did in 2006.

The data also shows that decline in national daily readership has been most marked amongst younger adults. The overall number of 15-24 year old readers fell by 37% and 25-34 year old readers by 40%. The number of older readers has held more steady, with the number of 55-64 year old readers increasing by 4% and the number of readers aged 65+ falling by 3%.

The decline in readers has affected almost all national daily newspapers, with some titles more affected than others. However, two national daily newspapers have managed to achieve growth in overall readers and population reach - The Times and Daily Mail. The Times has seen a 69% increase in total readers and a 59% increase in reach. The Daily Mail, has seen a growth in total readers of 18% and an 11% increase in reach. The Guardian had a 3% reduction in overall readers and a 9% decrease in reach.

Against this the two most affected titles are: the Daily Express (54% decline in readership, 57% decline in reach) and Daily Mirror/Daily Record (49% decline in readership, 52% decline in reach).

The National Readership Survey's figures show that the same general trends are true for the Sunday papers. The overall number of people reading one or more national Sunday newspaper declined by 21% and their reach declined by 26%. Again the decline was most marked amongst younger readers. The Sunday Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and the Sunday Times all saw an increase in overall readers. But no Sunday paper managed to increase the percentage of the population it reached.

Lord Fowler, the Chairman of the Communications Committee, said:

"These figures show an overall decline in the number of people reading a national newspaper. However, they also show that more than 21 million people in Britain still read at least one of the top ten national daily newspapers on an average day. This figure does not include the readership of free daily newspapers like the Metro, which has a readership of over two million. Nor does it include the readership of Scottish, Welsh and regional titles or people who read newspaper content online."

" With 45% of the population reading one of the top ten national newspapers on an average day it is clear that ownership of the press remains an important issue. In the New Year the Committee will be looking in detail at whether media ownership is appropriately regulated and how the public interest can be upheld. Details of the questions the Committee wants to receive evidence about are on our website".

View selected data from the National Readership Survey

Notes on the figures

1. The full evidence from the National Readership Survey is available at

2. The NRS's estimates of newspaper readership are based on a continuous process of personal interviews with members of the public, conducted by Ipsos MORI. A full explanation of the NRS methodology is available on its website

3. All the figures quoted are averages for the periods January - December 1992 and January - December 2006. They are rounded to the nearest thousand. They refer to adult readership (15 years and older) of national newspapers that are readily available throughout Great Britain.

4. The NRS produces its estimates by interviewing a sample of the general population. This methodology means that the estimates of the readership of smaller newspapers such as the Financial Times may be more affected by sample variation than the larger titles. The figures the Committee received only show how many people read physical newspapers, readers who access news from a newspaper's website are not represented.

5. The figures do not reflect readership of Scottish, Welsh, regional or local papers. Nor do they include readership of the free newspapers. However because of the unique relationship between the Daily Mirror and the Daily Record the figures include readership of both.

Notes to editors

Full detail of the Committee and its inquiry including the Call for Evidence and previous written and oral evidence can be found at: