Australian publishers hoping their dirty little secrets of rorting the
“audited” circulation figures will disappear won’t be pleased by the
latest news from America, where another big circulation fraud has just
emerged.

Belo Corp, owner of the highly-reputable Dallas Morning News
,
has revealed that new Audit Bureau of Circulation figures will show the
paper is set take a circulation hit of about 13% on Sundays and 9% on
other days. Belo also disclosed that it received a subpoena from the
Dallas County District Attorney investigating “overstated circulation
figures at the Morning News
“, while the paper’s circulation
overstatement is already under investigation by the Securities and
Exchange Commission, as reported here

by Editor and Publisher.

How big is the scale of circulation fraud in the US? Read this account we’ve put together on the Crikey site here

to find out.

Meanwhile, the Financial Review

today weighed into the circulation rorting issue with an opinion piece
by its media commentator Neil Shoebridge, who says Crikey’s revelations
about newspaper and magazine circulation fraud “simply reinforces the
doubts about the accuracy of circulation figures and the widely held
belief that some publishers use free and heavily discounted copies to
inflate their sales.”

And
Shoebridge nails the issue with his comment about the Media Federation
of Australia’s view in January this year that “dodgy circulation
figures were no longer an issue”. Privately, says Shoebridge, “media
industry executives laughed at the MFA’s naivety.”

Those executives aren’t laughing so loud now.

Peter Fray

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