Serious questions have been raised about the accuracy of readership figures used by Australia’s largest gay and lesbian publisher to attract advertisers.
The 2013 media kit for Queensland Pride, a free fortnightly magazine published by Evo Media, claims the magazine has a readership of 27,700. But an invoice for April 2013, and obtained by Crikey, shows only 5000 copies of Queensland Pride were printed each fortnight at the APN plant in Warwick. The magazine was then being published by Evolution Publishing, which was made insolvent in May.
Advertisers in Queensland Pride‘s July issue include non-profit organisations such as the Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association and the Queensland Ministerial Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.
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A circulation of 5000 would equate to a readership of 5.4 people per copy for Queensland Pride — a figure far higher than the 3.4 readers per copy claimed by the magazine in its 2012 media kit. Data for Fairfax and News Corp Australia newspapers show readerships of fewer than three people for each copy sold.
Evolution Publishing’s 2012 media kit for Queensland Pride claimed a monthly circulation of 15,740, a readership of 53,516 and a print run of 18,000. Evo Media no longer includes details of its circulation or print runs in its media kits. While Crikey understands the company only engages one Queensland printer, the company has declined requests for details on the size of its current print runs.
Evo Media began publishing Queensland Pride — and other queer publications including SX in Sydney and Melbourne Community Voice — in April. Previous publisher Evolution Publishing was put into liquidation in May after it was revealed the company owed $407,278 to the Australian Tax Office and more than $250,000 to a printer. Crikey also revealed in March that the company had serially underpaid superannuation to its staff. The general manager of Evolution Publishing, Dean Bell, registered Evo Media as a company in February and now serves as its company director.
Evo Media’s publications are not audited by the Circulations Audit Board, the industry standard for verifying circulation.
Mark Anthony, the former director of Evolution Publishing, has repeatedly denied any overstating of circulation figures. He told Crikey: “Print runs from fortnight to fortnight may vary according to seasons which are typical of the industry but averaged out for the year would equate to what is claimed by the Publisher in that years Publisher’s Statement.”
When he was provided a copy of the APN printing invoice, he said Crikey had “obtained this data illegally and may have breached privacy legislation”.
Anthony said: “Evolution Publishing printed its magazines at several plants in different states and distributed and printed accordingly in other states,” and that in looking at the invoices, it was also important “to consider the magazines that are weekly subscribed and those that are printed and allocated for special events and trade fairs”.
*Miles Heffernan has been a contributor to GLBTIQ print and online media since 2007, including Queensland-based QNews and SameSame.com.au