Dispute sparks ABC review of paper auditing methods

The Audit Bureau of Circulations is to review the way it audits national newspapers’ sales figures, following its dispute with Times Newspapers and The Telegraph.

The review is expected to look at a range of circulation-boosting devices, including bulk sales, cut-price issues and subscription sales.

Following discussions with The Telegraph, ABC has agreed to reinstate The Daily and Sunday Telegraphs’ November ABC figures after originally insisting its subscription sales be listed separately. The Daily Telegraph will now post a November sales figure of just over 1.1 million, while The Sunday Telegraph figure will be 839,097.

“The matter has been resolved to our satisfaction,” says Jeremy Deedes, managing director of The Telegraph. Deedes welcomes the review even though News International has been campaigning against bulk sales in a trade press and direct mail campaign.

“It may be that the ABC has been through a period of change,” he adds. “So it could be time to sit down and look at the rules.”

However, Times Newspapers insists the dispute is not yet settled. “This matter has a long way to go,” says a Times spokeswoman. “We are still in discussions with the ABC.”

All November’s ABC figures may need to be restated to allow newspapers to include subscription sales in their November figures. The Times is expected to restate its sales figures with a small number of subscription copies included.

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