The Provincial Press
One of the most interesting features of the modern newspaper press of New Zealand is the concerted effort of provincial proprietaries to gain a larger share of the advertising revenue, particularly that paid by national advertisers – oil companies, soap makers, food and drug manufacturers, travel concerns, and so on. Provincial papers could not continue without money from advertising; national advertisements have tended to be monopolised by the big city dailies. Five out of seven dailies publish outside the main centres; and the aggregate potential readers in the areas they deliver to comprise nearly six-tenths of the total population. By combining to quote special rates they hope to gain more of national advertisement revenue. Some provincial newspapers (always relatively strong) have increased their circulations faster than the metropolitan press. Most of them have excellent equipment and a few, more than the metropolitans, use spot colour for advertisements. Official figures show that, on the average, people who live in or near to self-sufficient provincial cities and towns have more purchasing power than their big-city cousins; in one recent year, £85 per annum more, the big-city average being £943 per annum. Retail sales statistics show the extra money is spent in the nearest main shopping area.
These facts help to account for New Zealand's thriving provincial press, which prints the advertisements for the well-patronised retailers as well as conducts substantial job-printing businesses. At the present time this section competes for national advertisements as a separate trade group called the New Zealand Provincial Press Inc. They have 18 members in 14 cities; and recently audited circulations ranged from 6,600 (Marlborough Express) to more than 19,000 (Southland Times) a day; and their combined circulations topped that of the New Zealand Herald. The typical strength of the provincial press is shown by the case of Gisborne, with a population of over 25,000 people. The average Gisborne taxpayer paid £414 income tax in a recent year, the second highest in New Zealand. The Gisborne Herald's circulation at the time was 10,500.