Fairfax and magazine body both pull out of print readership project

Fairfax and Magazine Publishers of Australia have both withdrawn from the controversial process of creating a new print readership measurement metric.  

At the end of a statement announcing the list of companies selected for the next stage of the project, marketing body The Newspaper Works announced:

Fairfax Media has advised the board of The Newspaper Works that it has decided not to participate in the remaining stages of the readership tender. Fairfax Media will remain a member of The Newspaper Works.”

In what appeared to be a coordinated announcement, an email followed from the MPA two minutes later saying that it was also not going to be involved. Fairfax simultaneously put out its own statement.

The saga began in June when Newspaper Works -which is funded by the major newspaper groups including News Ltd, WAN, APN and Fairfax – announced that it planned to create a readership currency of its own. The move put it at odds with Roy Morgan Research  which currently measures newspaper and magazine readership, although it has previosuly been accused of lacking transparency over its methodology.

Some accused Newspaper Works of self interest on behalf of its members in trying to control the data.

Initially it looked like the magazine industry might come on board with MPA chairman and Pacific Magazines boss Nick Chan comparing the service received from Roy Morgan to that provided by the Soup nazi in Seinfeld.

In August the MPA voted to get involved in the initial stages. However, this decision saw publisher ACP resign from the MPA.

But in a statement today Chan said: “Our commitment was for the Expression of Interest stage of the tender process. On balance our members believed it was in their best interest not to proceed any further. We acknowledge that the needs for magazines are significantly different and newspapers need to evolve their readership metric. We wish them well and remain open minded to revisit our decision when the metric is available for review.”

Roy Morgan has refused to get involved in the process but the three organisations which have made it to the next stage of the Newspaper Works process are:

  • GfK:Mediamark Research & Intelligence;
  • Ipsos MediaCT;
  • TNS Australia

Newspaper Works boss Tony Hale said: “We are very confident that the firm that wins the tender will develop a new readership metric of the highest quality for Australia providing world-class, transparent and accurate readership results that reflect how consumers engage with newspapers.

“The international experience of the shortlisted firms means the new system for Australia will include the best emerging methodologies, the integration of print and online readership, topic involvement information, more frequent release of data and the ability to host the data on competitive analytical software platforms.”

Final submissions will be due next March. Despite fears that newspapers would try to avoid having sectional readership measured (ie how many people read any given section of a newspaper) he insisted to Mumbrella that this would be included in the request for tender. He said: “Yes, it will be in the RFT.”

In its statement, Fairfax said it has pulled out after coming to an arrangement for better service from Roy Morgan Research including greater transparency. Despite choosing not to back The Newspaper Works on the readership battle, the Fairfax statement said it continued to back the body in its general marketing activities.


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