The Times of eSwatini newspaper (formerly Times of Swaziland) which for years has claimed to have daily sales of 300,000 copies in fact has fewer than 18,000, an independent audit of its circulation revealed.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) in South Africa which independently audits newspapers in that country and in the region reported the sales of the Times on Mondays to Fridays averaged 17,985 copies in the second quarter of 2020. The sales were 11.8 percent down on a year ago. The sales were 9.5 percent down since the start of the coronavirus lockdown in Swaziland.
The ABC did not release figures for the Times' Saturday or Sunday editions. The ABC receives circulation data from newspapers and checks to verify its accuracy.
The sales figure contrasts with the claim the Times has made for years on its own website about its sales. It says, 'The newpaper [sic] has been running since 1968 and is Swaziland's leader in the deliver [sic] of printed news. The print edition is printed daily with a circulation of over 300,000.'
The Times has also made the 300,000 circulation claim in advertisements.
The Times is one of only two daily newspapers in the kingdom. The other newspaper is the eSwatini Observer (formerly Swazi Observer), which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland. It does not allow its sales to be independently audited.
The eSwatini Observer does not give details of its circulation on its website, but does say, 'The market share of the readership is approximately 50 percent of the print media market.'
In 2016 in an entry published by Capro Media Representatives, a South African-based company that markets newspapers to advertising agencies stated the Observer had 'print orders' that were 8,280 copies for the Monday to Friday editions, 9,200 for the Saturday and 6,000 for the Sunday edition.
The population of Swaziland is about 1.1 million.