While the release of the latest ABC figures reflect newspaper circulations' continued global decline, Independent Media is proud to have in its stable the only two daily newspapers in South Africa to have increased their circulations this quarter - Isolezwe and the Cape Argus.
Isolezwe continued to confound the country's newspaper trends by growing its circulation from 104,860 to 108,629 in quarter two of 2015, while the Cape Argus has grown from 29,170 to 30,428 in the corresponding reporting period.
"Isolezwe is testament to Independent Media's faith in - and commitment to - South Africa's vernacular newspaper market and is our group's star performer. Editor Sazi Hadebe's Isolezwe team have excelled in understanding and catering for their Zulu-language market with entertaining copy that strongly resonates with their readership and we are very proud of the paper's achievements. In this tough commercial environment, this is a newspaper that extraordinarily battles to find space to cater for the advertisers that stream to the paper to promote their products," said Dr Iqbal Survé, Executive Chairman of Independent Media after the release of the circulation figures today.
For Independent, the bold gamble in September 2014 to change the Cape Argus' format from tabloid to US broadsheet - the first of its kind in the South African market - is paying off handsomely.
"Readers and advertisers alike have responded very positively to the Cape Argus' change of format and we're delighted to see the paper's circulation remain steady, with revenue also increasing considerably over the last six months. The Cape Argus is a very important paper in our stable and besides merely a change of format, the paper has reviewed its editorial approach. It covers urban Cape Town's issues as passionately as ever, while it has added a lighter liftestyle focus to reflect the city's transformation as a world-class metropolitan city," said Survé.
"This is heartening news in the context of a gloomy outlook for daily newspapers and it is testimony to the hard work and dedication of the team at the Cape Argus. We have added a lot of innovation to our reporting repertoire to enhance the experience for readers and online users. We value the continued support of our readers, subscribers and advertisers," said Cape Argus editor Gasant Abarder.
Independent Media's weekend title in the Cape, Weekend Argus, also increased its circulation from 55,017 to 55,099 while Isolezwe ngeSonto and Isolezwe ngoMgqibelo showed their strength in the Zulu market with a growth of 4% (from 85,700 to 89,104) and 2,6% (from 79,476 to 81,580) respectively. Post, the weekly niche publication serving South Africa's Indian community and now in its 60th year, also showed a steady increase in circulation growing to 43,567 from 43,363.
Many of Independent's competitors are taking serious strain and our group is working hard to also review trends and research patterns in our readership and responding with editorial and design changes to cater for the market.
With a raft of editorial changes at the Cape Times over the last year, Independent is encouraged that the paper's circulation has remained steady and dropped slightly to 31,647 from 31,784 as its new editorial team takes shape and charts the paper's new direction. In Gauteng, The Star's drop to 88,421 and that of the Pretoria News to 14,626 is noted and will be addressed.
While Isolezwe remains our standout perfomer in Kwazulu-Natal, the Daily News has dropped to 26,368 from 29,457 and the Mercury has dipped slightly from 28,938 to 27,591. In Kimberley, the Diamond Fields Advertiser is down to 8,941 from 9,519.
"These are of course challenging times for the media industry, but we at Independent Media are encouraged by the solid performance of our group's daily titles. We continue to be by far the strongest print media industry players in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal and remain extremely influential in Gauteng," said Survé.
"We pride ourselves in catering for our audience in a unique, personal manner, in their own language and reflecting their culture and beliefs. This is reflected in our bold step of launching the country's first Xhosa daily newspaper in the Eastern Cape this year. We continue to provide strong audiences and extremely good value to advertisers and we are constantly investing in our digital future, reassessing our business models and enhancing our product offering as we plan for our long-term sustainability in the media industry," Survé concluded.