Newsletter No 14 17 January 2006
Readership & Circulation:
Publishing in Arabic to Gain Readers

The Moroccan press has two well-defined audiences: French and Arabic speakers. The former is smaller and generally consists of economic elites and decision makers, while the latter offers bigger opportunities for increasing circulation and less buying power. The Eco-Medias group, publisher of the leading French-language daily L’Economiste, decided that they wanted to reach both of them.

“We launched Assabah because L’Economiste did not reach the middle classes. After carrying out a survey on the market, we realized we needed an Arabic-speaking daily to reach them,” says Abdelmouneim Dilami, president of the Eco-Medias group.

The daily was established in 2000 and, after a slow start, became one of the most popular newspapers in the Moroccan market.

“When we started Assabah, circulation got stuck between 10,000 and 15,000 copies. We then conducted a new market survey to find out why. The conclusions showed that readers wanted less politics and more social content, so we reduced political news while providing more social content such as education or employment,” Dilami says.

“After those changes were made, we got between 2,000 and 3,000 more readers each month. Today, readership remains stable with a print-run of 90,000 of which between 67,000 and 72,000 are sold.”

No other change has been implemented since then, nor in content or in terms of layout. “The survey did not show any other discontent among readers,” says Dilami.

But increasing circulation has not really affected advertising revenue. It represents 30% of Assabah revenues but it is starting to increase. The reason for this is also related to the niche audience.

Assabah is a general information newspaper in Arabic, which means that readers are not among the wealthiest classes in the country. Companies of mass consumption products, which are the most interested in this public, prefer to go to TV because it is less expensive and reaches more people,” says Dilami.

However, this is changing. “Nowadays, TV has lost audience share and media-buyers have realized that. Furthermore, Arab-language press has increased circulation. This is our main argument to convince advertisers. Our advertising department is working hard to attract ad revenues and we expect to reach 55% of revenues through advertising within the current year,” he says.