Former editor raises fresh questions over newspaper circulation figures

Australia’s Audit Bureau of Circulations is facing further pressure to change its rules on what is defined as paid newspaper circulation after revelations by former Fairfax and News Ltd editor Bruce Guthrie in his new book.  

Crikey reports that in the forthcoming Man Bites Murdoch, Guthrie says that “between 50,000 and 100,000” daily copies of News Ltd’s Melbourne paper the Herald Sun are actually educational and event sales. news Ltd told crikey that it worked within ABC guidelines.

The move follows Crikey’s publication of an internal Fairfax memo which raised questions over circulation of The Age in Melbourne and Mumbrella’s own discovery of large numbers of unread copies of the Sydney Morning Herald in a university loading bay.

The issue was featured in the ABC’s Inside Business at the weekend with analyst Roger Colman of CCZ Statton Equities suggesting advertisers were being “conned”. He told the program: “The serious trend that we’re delayed in having in Australia, partly because possibly we’ve been overstating readerships; we might have been overstating the genuine purchasing of newspapers to begin with. And so we’re still, to some extent, conning the advertisers in Australia in newspaper advertising.”

The ABC holds its AGM a fortnight from today.


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