Times threatens ABC over sales

Times Newspapers has become the latest national newspaper publisher to threaten the Audit Bureau of Circulations with legal action.

Times Newspapers has become the latest national newspaper publisher

to threaten the Audit Bureau of Circulations with legal action.



The News International-owned company, which publishes the Times and the

Sunday Times, made the move this week in response to the news that the

ABC had settled its dispute over circulation figures with the Telegraph

Group.



As a result of the settlement, the ABC has agreed to publish the

November circulation figures of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph,

including 100,000 copies sold at discounted subscription rates as

full-rate sales.



The Telegraph had threatened a writ when the ABC counted the sales as

’lesser rate’ in its November ABC figures, which were eventually

published with blank spaces where the Daily and Sunday Telegraph sales

figures should have been.



The decision to omit the sales from the full-rate figures was taken at

the last minute after lobbying by rival publishers. The ABC has now

asked other publishers to resubmit returns if they want subscription

sales counted at the full rate. The body is then likely to issue a

revised May to November report to take account of the discrepancies.



However, its latest about face has brought swift censure from Times

Newspapers.



In a sabre-rattling statement, Chris Maybury, the general manager of

Times Newspapers, warned: ’Whatever the Telegraph may claim in the

recent controversy, the issue is far from over. The Times has written to

the ABC with its views; it is lodging a formal complaint and will also

take legal action if it deems that to be necessary.’



Patrick Barrow, a Telegraph Group spokesman, said: ’The judgment of the

ABC on our subscription seems to have established a level playing field,

in that the Times is allowed to submit subscription figures as well.

Given this, we cannot quite understand the objection.’



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