NEWS: NI papers set for ABC sales battle

News International has broken ranks with rival newspaper houses to challenge the true worth of ABC figures as a currency in the marketplace.

News International has broken ranks with rival newspaper houses to

challenge the true worth of ABC figures as a currency in the


It has begun a major campaign to tackle the controversial issue of

removing bulk sales from ABC data.

The publisher is targeting agencies, clients and industry bodies with a

monthly mailshot which aims to draw attention to what News International

claims is the ‘cynical abuse’ of bulk sales to disguise real drops in

sales by some of its competitors.

In doing so, News International is throwing down the gauntlet to rival

national newspaper publishers, which have blocked previous attempts to

raise the issue through the Newspaper Publishers Association.

The first mailshot, which is due to hit top newspaper advertisers’ desks

this Friday, breaks down the ABC figures for March into three

categories: ABC, bulk sales and real sales. It also tracks the pattern

of bulk sales over the previous six months in graph form, highlighting

the high number of bulks used by virtually all its competitors, and the

low number used by News International titles.

Two forms have also been sent, one to be filled in and returned to News

International by those who want to receive the information on a monthly

basis, and another calling for a reassessment of the way bulk sales are

reported, to be signed and sent to the ABC.

Clive Milner, the general manager of News Group Newspapers, which

publishes the News International tabloids, the Sun and the News of the

World, said the aim was to ensure ABC figures were a worthy currency.

He said: ‘Agencies have been asking for changes to the ABC figures,

including separate weekday and Saturday sales figures. This is fine, but

the starting position is fudged because of bulks. The starting point

must be more accuracy and transparency.’

Coincidentally, Times Newspapers, the broadsheet arm of News

International, was celebrating this week after poaching the Forte Hotels

bulk sales contract from its rival, the Daily Telegraph. The decision to

take the Times will wipe around 20,000 sales from the Telegraph’s ABC

figure, driving it close to the crucial one million mark.


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