Telegraph halts ABC legal action

The Telegraph Group has backed down from its threatened legal action against the Audit Bureau of Circulations for breach of contract, after eight months of wrangling.

The courtroom showdown, which had been scheduled to start this week, has been adjourned and an agreement reached in principle.

This means the Telegraph’s subscription sales will be listed in a separate category for pre-paid non-postal subscriptions, and not in the figures for total average circulation, which includes full-price sales.

This is in line with the demands of News International, which pub-lishes The Times and The Sunday Times. NI complained to the ABC about its decision to include the subscription sales as full-price sales last November. ABC later pulled the paper’s listings and the Telegraph issued a writ for breach of contract.

The Media Centre director of press buying Tim Armes says: “I think all sides will be claiming this as a victory.” He points out that if the proposals are agreed, they give NI the green light to introduce its own subscription scheme and have the sales listed. NI would also be allowed to continue listing the 10p Times on a Monday as a full-price sale, because this is not a pre-paid non-postal subscription scheme.

In addition, the ABC’s audit rules will be reviewed, along with the Guidance Notes for National News-papers. The agreement depends on approval from the ABC Council, which meets this week.

Media Analysis, page 16

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