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
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
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
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.’