National newspaper circulation continued its inexorable decline in September, with daily circulation down 7% year-on-year, although we estimate retail sales value decline was marginal

Sunday popular and mid-market newspaper circulation fell 4% month-on-month, as News of the World buyers continue to drop out of the market; we estimate around a third of ex-readers have not migrated to another title

Publishers are responding to circulation decline in a variety of ways, from churning out bulks to maintain scale, to increasing cover prices, axing international editions and developing their subscriber base

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment in the Portsmouth pub landlady case looks to have opened the door to legitimising the private or domestic use of decoders to watch premium sports and other pay-TV content outside the territories for which they were licensed

The outcome could prove to be a significant commercial opportunity for Sky to expand its overseas distribution among residential customers, but an extra test for the Football Association Premier League (PL) as it designs the next round of contracts with a view to at least maintaining current revenues

The ECJ judgment is more ambiguous over the question of public screenings for commercial purposes against the wishes of the right holders and the conclusion appears some way off

In the context of his Inquiry, Lord Leveson invited Claire Enders, as “one of the UK’s foremost media business analysts”, to kick off the seminar series on the 6 October with a synoptic presentation on “Competitive pressures on the press”. The Inquiry is interested in understanding the market economics of the mainstream media, including the impact of technology

This presentation brings together our existing work on the newspaper and consumer magazines industry, with an emphasis on the former, highlighting the challenges to the print media of the internet

A video transcript of Claire’s presentation and the debate on the session’s subject of “Competitive pressures on the press and the pressures on journalism”, may be accessed on the site of the Leveson inquiry, at

Advancing its free-to-air TV project, France’s Canal+ is to buy Bolloré TV’s national channels for €465 million to gain (scarce) licences for FTA terrestrial broadcast

Canal+ plans to leverage its library of original programming to attract upscale audiences, neglected by commercial rivals

However, the Vivendi investment case of a 9% return on capital is built on incompatible assumptions about profit margins and market share – to grow the latter in a mature market, a channel needs to sacrifice the former

Fiscal 2011 was a vintage year for Sky, which reported a 23% growth in operating profit and 51% increase in free cash flow as it started to reap the full benefits of its investment in multi-product growth

Q4 2011 showed signs that tougher economic conditions are starting to bite, although the sharp fall in TV product additions was balanced by a fourth consecutive bumper quarter in home communications, in which Sky outperformed the rest of the market

Strong focus on operating efficiencies and product innovation combined with big investment in UK originated content should position the company well as competitive pressures build in the medium- to long-term, at the same time as allowing continuing strong profit growth

Trinity Mirror, Northern & Shell and DMGT helped the market more or less offset the absence of the News of the World, though impressive volumes have come at a price

More generally, newspaper circulations have a temporary reprieve, as strong newsflow but also discounts and marketing techniques have been deployed to attract readers

What happens next at News International, and also competitor responses, could soon change market dynamics again

The uncovering of criminal behaviour at one newspaper (so far) has led to a much broader review of how the press is regulated, seeking to put a stop to dishonest and unethical behaviour, legal or illegal, and touching on ownership, ethics and on the freedom of the press in general

However, much of investigative journalism relies on activities that are certainly dishonest and arguably open to prosecution: any new code and enforcement will need to rely on judgement and selectivity, not prescription

Statutory, compulsory, enforceable regulation of the press will risk running into the sand in a world in which casual chat between friends is viewable by millions on social networks and celebrity gossip is sent to pixel in Los Angeles or São Paulo, not Wapping

The closure of the News of the World will see Sunday national press circulation decline by nearly 1.8 million copies per week, taking it to little more than half its level in 2000

All titles will gain market share of circulation as a result, and we anticipate additional market share gains for the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Mirror, to more than 30% and nearly 20%, respectively

In the context of the decision to withdraw the bid for BSkyB, News Corp will consider all its options, either expanding its presence through a Sun on Sunday, or retreating altogether from the UK newspaper market

All the recent attention to BSkyB has had to do with the proposed News Corporation takeover and its impact on the share price. For the BSkyB business itself, we think the troubles of News International have so far had very little effect, as there is nothing to link the pay-TV operator Sky directly with the News of the World, the epicentre of the current judicial and political storm. Nothing, that is, apart from the Murdoch factor, which certainly seemed to do no harm to sales of the final News of the World edition on Sunday 10 July which topped 4.5 million.

In our view a bigger concern for BSkyB is the impact of the current squeeze on consumer spending. This may best explain the press release of 8 July, which announced both the launch of Sky Go as an added TV Anywhere extra to Sky customers at no extra cost to their existing packages and the freezing of package prices until 31 August 2012.

Ofcom is entitled to consider whether News Corp is ‘fit and proper’ to own BSkyB’s channels, not the company itself

Precedent suggests that Ofcom will only be able to conclude that News Corp is unfit if the acquiring company’s directors are found guilty of a serious criminal offence. Suspicions, allegations and mistrust are absolutely not enough

We believe that Ofcom will only be able to assess whether News Corp is ‘fit and proper’ to own Sky channels after the transaction is concluded