Florida newspaper circulation falls

Published Nov. 1, 2013

Most Florida newspapers posted a drop in circulation based on the latest industry report released Thursday.

The Tampa Bay Times remains the largest paper in Florida, the report from the Alliance for Audited Media, or AAM, showed.

Joe DeLuca, Tampa publisher and vice president of the Tampa Bay Times, viewed some of the dropoff as temporary.

"The headwinds in the economy this summer and the decline of the coupon craze have had a significant but temporary impact on our overall circulation numbers," he said. "However, we are extremely pleased with the current trends we are seeing throughout Tampa Bay, and we continue to experience strong growth in Hillsborough County."

AAM, formerly called the Audit Bureau of Circulations, has revamped its methodology for calculating circulation in recent years. For example, free, branded editions of newspapers are now included in the overall count. In the latest tweak to count users of websites, tablets and smartphones, newspapers can also count free digital editions toward circulation if they are accessed by users once every 30 days.

The changes have made direct comparisons difficult, as circulation counts can vary widely depending on how many free branded editions a newspaper distributes.

For instance, among Florida papers, the Palm Beach Post suffered the single-largest drop on Sundays, with a 23 percent decline in circulation. But that was due largely to eliminating more than 28,000 branded editions on Sundays.

In a similar vein, the Tampa Tribune was one of just two major Florida dailies to post a higher daily circulation. The increase was driven by distributing about 77,000 free, branded community newspapers to both subscribers and nonsubscribers. That's up about 14,000 papers from a year ago.

The Tribune is also the only major Florida daily to include a free, branded newspaper distributed on Sundays, accounting for more than 50,000 copies, or roughly a fifth of its total Sunday circulation.

The Times' figures include nearly 82,000 copies of tbt*, the company's free daily newspaper, which counts as a branded edition. That's up 718 copies, or less than 1 percent, from a year ago.

Executives with Revolution Capital Group, the California private equity fund that owns the Tribune, could not be reached for comment.