powerful media buyers have today sought assurances from the Audit Bureau of
Circulations that its review of circulation rorts will identify and lead to the
elimination of malpractice in the multibillion dollar industry.

“We want to be reassured it’s not possible to rort the
system,” John Sintas, president of the Federation of Media Buyers, told
Crikey. “The entire process needs to be reviewed comprehensively to ensure
its integrity and accuracy.” Sintras said he spoke this morning with Audit
Bureau chairman Stephen Hollings to emphasize the industry’s concerns and
ensure it had input into the inquiry.

Sintras said the federation, which represents the nation’s
major media buyers, wanted direct input into the review via its research arm.
“At this stage, it looks like the ABC is assembling a comprehensive
process, and we wanted to make sure we have appropriate input.”

Hollings told The Australian he’d never seen any proof of
promotional copies being illegitimately counted towards a publication’s paid
circulation. “Senior auditors are signing off on these [audits] – are
putting their signatures on them – as are senior publishers. So the sort of
thing appearing on Crikey in essence defames those people,” he claimed.,5744,15032422%255E7582,00.html

But Sintras said there was no need to quarantine auditors
and publishers from the ABC’s probe. “Of course we’ll want to be reassured
their auditors are above board. That should form a legitimate part of the
review,” he told Crikey.

“We are satisfied at this stage that the ABC will
review all terms and definitions within the current rules to remove any
potential ambiguity,” said Sintras, who is also chief operating officer of
the large media buyer Starcom. Media
buyers are pushing for more regular audits, saying the current half-yearly
audits are too infrequent.

Peter Fray

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