The chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Stephen Hollings
(also News Ltd’s head of strategic development), today told Crikey he
had nothing to say about allegations of newspaper and magazine
circulation rorts, claiming that anything he had to say “couldn’t be
printed,” so there was no point in saying it.

Hollings said he
felt he was impugned by Crikey’s suggestions that the ABC “review”
would give the industry a clean bill of health – and rejected the need
for an independent inquiry.

He said the ABC’s review would
involve representatives of the Bureau’s three member groups –
advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers – as well as a fourth
group of auditors, giving everyone in the industry the chance to have
their say. The only independent member of the review would be a man
named Tony Bosman, although Hollings wouldn’t elaborate on his
background or his credentials.

Contentious topics such as the 1%
threshold for inclusion of promotional and discounted copies would be
covered in the review, and Hollings said it was likely that the
advertisers would suggest some changes.

CRIKEY: For a representative of the fourth estate who (presumably)
believes in freedom of the press, we wonder why Stephen Hollings is
being so coy about addressing one of the biggest scandals facing his
own industry? He must have read too many stories about Deep Throat over
the past few days.