As Crikey
readers have told us, there are plenty of ways to tell the story of media
circulations. One is simply to ignore rises and falls in audited sales by not updating web
pages. Take ACP, the country’s major
magazine publisher with around 47% of the market. Several sections of the main web page for
ACP, Packer’s magazine arm and the country’s largest, haven’t been updated
for months.There are references to the December
2004 circulation and readership surveys, but under “important dates” the
circulation and readership surveys listed are months out of date (August
2004!).

It’s really odd. While circulation figures for some of the bigger
magazines have been changed to take into account the results of the
December 2004 six-month audit, others haven’t. This failure to update
is reflected in a haphazard way through the various home pages of ACP
magazines. Many magazines have updated circulation changes in the
December half: Woman’s Day and Australian Women’s Weekly, the
two money-making giants, have the latest figures on their pages. But what
about The Bulletin, ACP’s struggling general interest magazine?

On The Bulletin’swebsite the
magazine’s circulation is given as 69,770, which it was at the end of June last
year. The figure at the end of December
was 62,000, down 11%. Oh dear! The figure should be updated to
reflect the circulation fall.

Another out of date title is Cleo, the girls’ mag. The webpage gives
Cleo
an Australian circulation of 206,784, but the ABC figures for
the end of December are 192,899. It’s been a while since
Cleo was at 206,000 copies.

At Cosmo , ACP does itself a
disservice. The website says circulation is 206,127, while the ABC December figure puts it at 220,112. The figures for Dolly are right on
the website – 165,264 as at end of last December – while Take 5 also does itself a
disservice by understating its circulation, 240,974 on the website compared with a
slightly higher one in the ABC audit of 241,620.

Money, ACP’s struggling finance magazine, struggled to take advantage of the
investment boom last year. According to the ABC audit, its circulation was
50,061 at last December, down 5.7% over 2004. But on the ACP website the audited
sales are quoted as 53,202 – the 30 June 2004 figure. That’s a significant
difference.

And Ralph, the ACO men’s title
involved in a tizzy fight with rival FHM over ‘The Girl Next Door’ is another
magazine that has forgotten, or not worried, about updating its circulation. The website claims the figure is 107,133, while the December audit says 104,125 – which was
a 3.4% increase over 2004. So when was it 107,133?

For a casual advertiser or even just a general reader looking at the
web pages, the inconsistency of information makes any comparisions
meaningless.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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