Ad revenues for US newspaper websites grew 21.1% in Q2, according to new stats that will give Rupert Murdoch some more ammunition in his bid to make the Wall Street Journal offer its online content for free.

The data, from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), shows ad spending on newspaper publishers’ online properties jumped 21.1% year-on-year in Q3 to $773m.

Online advertising now accounts for 7.1% of newspapers’ total ad revenues, up from 5.4% in the same quarter last year.

But still, that total ad spending fell 7.4% to $10.9bn and online ad takings were down from $796m in Q2.

NAA president and CEO John F. Sturm said newspapers continued to see the effects of economic troubles in the US:

“Broader economic issues are impacting our industry the same way they are impacting other media – the continued fallout from declines in the housing market clearly affects real estate, recruitment and retail advertising.

“Newspaper companies continue to take aggressive measures to prepare for the future during a period of economic challenges for the industry.”

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