NEWS: Telegraph offshoot admits errors over circulation figures

The Telegraph traded on false sales figures for its ex-pat spin-off, the Weekly Telegraph, for at least a year, it has emerged.

The Telegraph traded on false sales figures for its ex-pat spin-off, the

Weekly Telegraph, for at least a year, it has emerged.



By the admission of the title’s current publisher, Gillian Cowell, the

unaudited title claimed almost triple its actual circulation on media

packs distributed to agencies between November 1993 and December 1994.



The packs claimed that the title, which is a round-up of news from the

Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, had a weekly circulation of 153,116.

However, Cowell admitted this week that the current sales figure is

around 60,000. This includes a launch in the US during 1995, which was

not included in the old figures.



The Weekly Telegraph’s current media pack claims a distribution of

110,008. Cowell, who took over as publisher in September 1994, told

Campaign she had no idea how the previous figures had been calculated.

She added: ‘I can’t answer for the way things were run before.’



Press buyers expressed concern at the revelation. Neil Jones, a director

of Abbey National’s media agency, TMD Carat, said: ‘It is very worrying

if the Telegraph was selling against a figure that much over the actual

sales.’



Cowell claimed that most ads in the title involved a response mechanism

and that rates were negotiated ‘according to response and conversion

factors’ rather than circulation. But some press buyers dismissed this,

saying circulation was still ‘a big factor’ in any negotiation.



The Weekly Telegraph takes more than pounds 500,000 in annual

advertising revenue, making it by far the market leader in competition

with the Guardian Weekly, which has an audited ABC sales figure of

106,000 sales, the International Express and the UK Mail, both of which

are unaudited.



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