Buyers seek refund over ABC mix-up

Media agencies are pushing for compensation from Trinity Mirror after the news last week that circulation figures for three of its Birmingham newspapers have been overstated for the past six years.

Media agencies are pushing for compensation from Trinity Mirror

after the news last week that circulation figures for three of its

Birmingham newspapers have been overstated for the past six years.



Trinity Mirror discovered that Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for

the Birmingham Evening Mail and the Sunday Mercury were systematically

overstated by 17 per cent, and those for The Birmingham Post by 10 per

cent, during the past six years. Circulation figures for all three

titles have been withdrawn from the ABC while an investigation is

undertaken.



The company is offering to freeze ad rates for all three titles until

January 2002 and reduce the cost of all ads that are booked through the

newspapers by 10 per cent during 2000. It has also set aside pounds 20

million for advertisers claiming compensation.



One agency media head estimated that the potential advertising revenue

lost through the over-inflated figures amounts to nearly pounds 17

million, based on the total advertising revenue for those newspapers

between October 1994 and September 1999. Agencies said they would push

for retrospective compensation over this issue.



Steve Goodman, head of press at MediaCom TMB, said: ’It makes you wonder

whether there is more than meets the eye with other publications

suffering the same vagaries of this reporting. How much faith can you

put in to ABC figures if it has gone for so long unreported?’



Julie Ferguson, the ABC’s director of newspapers and consumer magazines,

said that the circulation body had sent a team to investigate the

newspapers’ auditing of its copies and hoped to have a report within the

next fortnight.



She added: ’I don’t think that there is any doubt over the credibility

of ABCs.’



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