From AdNews

Crikey fuels circulation debate


SYDNEY: The Audit Bureau of
Circulations (ABC) has reacted angrily to what it calls a smear campaign from
online publisher Crikey about ongoing circulation rorting.

In an
open letter to ABC members, ABC chairman Stephen Hollings said while the online
news site had repeatedly cried foul, it had yet to produce any hard evidence of
circulation rorts.

Hollings said none of Crikey’s allegations had
been brought forward to the Bureau for investigation: “Anonymous or otherwise,
but the bureau stands ready to fully investigate any such claims,” said
Hollings.

“Far from being a ‘whitewash’ as Crikey alleges,
significant progress has been achieved with the full support and participation
of the parties that somehow you believe – without evidence – remain aggrieved by
the process,” he said.

Crikey publisher Eric Beecher said he has
received up to 100 specific claims of circulation rorting in the past month
alone.

He said the “very specific” claims from senior media executives
were published on the basis that their names were withheld.

Beecher said
the “sanctimonious approach of Stephen Hollings was to squash the whole
debate.”

“The ABC has to defend its members. Stephen Hollings continues
to deny it goes on, but we all know it goes on and that it’s
widespread.

“The whole system is based on deceiving the auditors, by the
time it gets to the auditors, it’s been doctored.”

While the ABC has
sought widespread industry involvement from industry bodies, Beecher said it was
the role of the police and the ACCC to investigate allegations of circulation
rorting.

“If they have nothing to hide, they should appoint independent
inspectors with complete access to records and circulation departments with a
clear mandate to investigate these complaints. Why doesn’t it [the ABC] appoint
someone, what are they scared of,” said Beecher.

Story by: Matthew
Eaton

– 27 September 2005