The Sydney Morning Herald

has followed up Crikey’s coverage of rorts in the audited circulations of major Australian newspapers and magazines with this

report on Saturday. Under the headline ‘Ad buyers press for answers’,
Julian Lee reports that the Crikey allegations have “reignited an issue
that many in the media thought had been laid to rest when new rules
were introduced by the Audit Bureau of Circulation in June 2002.”

The
story also says the chairman of the Media Federation of Australia, John
Sintras, has written to ABC chairman Stephen Hollings demanding an
inquiry and saying: “I’ve asked them to examine the allegations and get
back to us quickly.” The SMH
reports that Sintras “also questioned the bureau’s ability to police the industry.”

Lee’s
story refers to last year’s circulation scandal in the US, reporting
that “four large newspapers admitted they had provided phony figures to
the organisation that monitors and publishes newspaper circulation
figures and have reimbursed advertisers $US130 million ($169 million).”

And
he quotes Fairfax commercial director, Alan Revell, as saying the
practice of giving out newspapers at events “presented a good marketing
opportunity,” but adding that “We know we cannot get any circulation
benefit out of it. We are clear on that.”

CRIKEY: Those loud
spluttering noises heard around Sydney on Saturday morning were the
sounds of media executives choking on their cornflakes as they read
Revell’s nonsensical quote claiming “we cannot get any circulation
benefit” out of giving away newspapers at events.

Meanwhile, more information is arriving at Crikey, including this:

Circulation and Hotels. Newspapers delivered and invoiced at
substantial discount. That revenue allocated to the hotel to be used as
advertising. Most of the time the hotel marketing dept aren’t aware of
the deal and don’t take up the ads — and the ad sales dept forget to
tell them about the credit!

… and this:

The University of Technology Sydney, Union shop is providing The Daily Telegraph

free in a pile outside their shop. In a deal struck between the two, the Tele

is paying them a sum to provide the paper for free as this would reduce the shop’s income if it were to give it away.

And from the US comes the news that one of the winners of the Chicago Headline Club’s annual Ethics in Journalism Award is Chicago Sun-Times
publisher John Cruickshank – who was cited for disclosing that the Sun-Times

had inflated its circulation figures by as much as 50,000 a day for up
to eight years. He was successful in urging the newspaper’s parent
company, Hollinger International Inc., to report the irregularities to
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s
office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the public. See this
story.