Daily Mail becomes biggest newspaper

The Daily Mail has overtaken the Sun as the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper amid changes in the way news brands report circulation.

Daily Mail: circulation milestone eclipses tabloid rival
Daily Mail: circulation milestone eclipses tabloid rival

The Sun had laid claim to being the UK’s best-selling newspaper for more than 40 years.

According to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), the Daily Mail sold an average of 980,000 copies a day during May, while the Mail on Sunday had sales of 878,000.

Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig, who took over from long-standing predecessor Paul Dacre in September 2018, had said that one of his ambitions for the paper was for it to overtake the Sun.  

The Mail on Sunday tweeted that it was “the first mid-market newspaper to be No 1 on a Sunday in 130 years!”

The equivalent circulation figures for the Sun are not publicly available anymore, due to changes in the way newsbrands can choose to have their figures audited by the ABC, which came in last month.

The ABC board, which includes publishers, advertising agencies, advertisers and trade bodies, has agreed that national newspapers could opt for public or private reporting. The Sun’s owner News UK has opted to make its figures private.

Prior to the change, the Sun sold an average 1.13m copies a day, and also gave away nearly 70,000 free copies at airports and train stations, with its giveaway activities curtailed by the Covid-19 restrictions. 

The figures in the case of the new ABC system are still audited, but are under the control of the publisher in terms of who the information is shared with.

The ABC has also canned its monthly newsbrands report.

“There will now be a rolling release of data throughout the month as publishers submit their figures to ABC. This addresses publisher concerns that monthly ABC circulation reports provide a stimulus to write a negative narrative of circulation decline, whilst continuing to ensure the data is available for agencies and advertisers who use it to buy print advertising,” the industry body stated.

Leading newspaper brands generate huge volumes of work for commercial printers in the shape of weekly supplements, inserts and other promotions.


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