News International stumbles over first ABC figures for thelondonpaper

News International’s thelondonpaper will register a lower inaugural Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figure for September than that of its arch-rival, Associated Newspapers-owned London Lite, because it initially failed to adhere to ABC rules.

Both freesheets launched at the beginning of last month with a target distribution of 400,000, alongside guarantees to advertisers that they would reach at least 360,000 readers.

It appears that tomorrow’s (Friday) ABC figures will demonstrate that London Lite achieved this with an average distribution of 380,000 copies per day in September. But thelondonpaper failed to realise in time for the launch that for every bundle of newspapers delivered to the vendors for hand distribution to readers, a signed return sheet was required for verification by the ABC.

The problem was only sorted out halfway through the month, which means that the newspaper’s average circulation will register around 330,000, according to an insider – who adds that the paper is now reguarly hitting distribution levels of 380,000.

One press buyer says: “You would think that if Rupert Murdoch’s lot were investing millions of pounds in launching a newspaper, they would have bothered to find out how to register an ABC figure.”

Another buyer says: “It does seem strange that News International couldn’t get organised, but in the long term it won’t matter. It will, however, mean bragging rights for Associated in the short term.”

Both papers have been chastised by local councils for distributing in the capital without the licences required and also for generating litter. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea did not hand out licences for the papers until October 6.

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