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
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