Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Newspapers Booming in Developing Nations, Online Editions Surge in Major Markets

BBC News reports on the changing shape of the news business, in which total global circulation of papers now exceeds a billion readers a day. China leads with 85 million paper readers, followed by India, Japan and the U.S. Overall global circulation of paper editions is flat, but in developing nations such as Russia, China and India the emergence of a literate and more affluent middle class that's still largely unwired is powering a huge surge in circulation that offsets declines in more developed nations. Online editions have surged 350 percent since 1999 and free dailies have shot up 16 percent in the last year alone, further complicating the problems of making subscription papers profitable. As usual there is never one "right" answer for content delivery: it's all a matter of context and market expectations. It's not contradictory to have print thriving in cultures where electronic content is still a new game or at odds with governments concerned with openness while electronic delivery begins to take center stage in more wired and open nations. But as evidenced by the rise of online news, free dailies and marketing-driven publications such as private label magazines, the economics of content delivery have tipped away forever from being able to sustain traditional publishing models via print organs in markets where electronic access is pervasive. We've exported old content models to new markets, but it won't be long before new electronic models develop in those markets to provide highly affordable electronic access.
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