The Times overtakes Telegraph's print circulation in watershed moment

The Times overtakes Telegraph's print circulation in watershed moment

The print circulation of The Times has overtaken The Daily Telegraph in a watershed moment in Britain's newspaper wars.

According to monthly ABC figures, The Times sold an average of 446,204 copies a day between Monday and Saturday in December 2017 (up 1.3%) against 393,310 for The Daily Telegraph (down 14.2%).

It caps a 25-year battle by Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Times, who first launched a price war against The Daily Telegraph in 1993 when his rival was one million copies ahead.

Industry sources said The Times has taken the lead after the Telegraph stopped circulating free and discounted "bulk" copies. The Times still uses tens of thousands of bulks.

John Witherow, the editor of The Times since January 2013, has increased the circulation from 399,000 in his first month as editor during a period when its three main quality rivals have struggled.

The Guardian, which axed its Berliner edition and moved to tabloid to save money this week, has fallen to about 150,000 and The Independent shut its print edition in 2016.

Witherow told Campaign in an interview in 2016 that overtaking the Telegraph’s print circulation and making his paper profitable were his two main aims when he took over as editor, particularly as his rival has never disclosed the number of paying online subscribers.

"The measure is still ‘can you exceed them in print?’ and that’s what we’d like to do," Witherow explained.

The Times waged a 12-year price war from 1993 until ending that strategy in 2005.

It now costs £1.60 on weekdays and is still cheaper than the Telegraph on £1.80 and The Guardian on £2.

The Sunday Times has long been number one in the quality market, ahead of The Sunday Telegraph and The Observer.

The print newspaper market has been through a decade of pain as circulation and advertising revenue have tumbled at most paid-for titles.

The Times has remained relatively healthy financially by putting up an internet paywall, although it posted a loss last year.

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