Philippines Newspaper Readership

Newspaper Readership in the Philippines

Newspaper readership in the Philippines has declined considerably. Several factors responsible for this development include the availability of other medium. Others include poverty which determines the purchasing power of the average person, and shift in consumer preferences.

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Factors that contributed to the decline in readership

There are several factors that could account for the decline in Philippine newspaper readership. Foremost is the fact that Filipinos do not have a habit of reading newspapers anymore.

Non-existent reading habit

Reading is not cultivated among the population and this is particularly true in the lower segments of society. About 93% of the country's population of approximately 99.9 million (July 2010 estimates) are considered simple literate or those able to read and write. This figure however, does not accurately represent the popularity of the reading habit of Filipinos in general.

As confirmed by a survey conducted by Synovate, readership in 2010 declined by 2% compared to the previous year. A World Association of Newspapers in survey in 2009 revealed that newspaper circulation in the country decreased by -0.53% in the past five years.

TV and the Internet

The availability of other news media such as the television and internet both contributed to the decreasing patronage of printed news. It is hard for newspapers to compete when news can be obtained for free from other sources. Several print dailies and magazines have already folded up due to this.

There are about 14 million households with TV sets in the Philippines, based on a 2009 study conducted by TNS Media Research Philippines . For most Filipinos, the boob tube is a very accessible and affordable alternative to newspapers. A one time investment in a television unit is all one needs to enjoy news and information provided by local channels at no added cost.

The availability of news reporting round the clock makes news readily available to the masses at any given time. Television becomes a viable alternative to reading newspapers. In the battle between newsprint and television consumption, the latter emerges victorious. For an average Filipino to access newspapers, he must purchase it on a daily basis at a cost ranging from P20-30 for a daily broad sheet or almost P600 for a month's subscription.

The online News                    

Based on the 2010 Yahoo! - Nielsen Net Index Survey conducted in Southeast Asia, internet usage among Filipinos increased from 56% in 2009 to 76%. Such made possible the increasing access to online editions of the local prints at the mere click of a mouse. Almost all the contents of local papers are likewise readily available in the online versions, with only a few exceptions. More importantly, although access to the web is for a fee, the online editions of these papers are free.

Poverty

Poverty which is now worsened by the slow economic growth where the average worker barely survives with the current daily minimum wage in the non-agricultural sector pegged at P404.00 (approximately equivalent to USD $9 at current exchange rate) based on National Wages Productivity Commission July 2010 data.

Understandably, this doesn't provide much leeway to buy other things apart from food and other basic necessities. A study by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) professor Ned Roberto confirmed that in times of crisis, newspapers, among others, is one of the first to be excluded from a consumer's shopping list.

This factor however, does not seem to affect those belonging to the segment of the population with higher purchasing power. Synovate , a global market research firm conducted a survey in 2009 and found that newspaper readership by Filipino consumers with higher purchasing power increased from 50% in 2008 to 64%. Clearly, a person’s purchasing power and resources greatly affect his newspaper reading behavior.

Shift in consumer preference

The Filipino consumers are increasingly mobile and empowered due to the availability of technologies that facilitate faster exchange of communication at the speed of light. They are also highly receptive to new media. They value and prefer ‘instant’, and attention-getting, a trend that adds another threat to the existence of traditional media such as print newspapers.

Just recently, TNS , an insight and consultancy firm, released the results of a comprehensive study entitled 'Digital Life' which suggested that the Philippines has a young and dynamic online population (with average age of 22.7) which is highly receptive to new media. Said study further revealed that 30 million Filipinos or almost 30% of the country's population access the web on a regular basis. Indeed, this young segment are hard to attract or engage and more likely obtain news and information from new media instead of newspapers.

No doubt, the factors above mentioned have significantly veered Filipinos away from traditional newspaper reading but the presence of affordable and suitable news source affords them more freedom and choice to be in control of the information they want. At any rate, the apparent decline in newspaper reading habit of Filipinos does not affect their desire to be updated about current news and events. Could this spell the death of printed media? Only time will tell.

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