13 Archant titles fail to report ABC figures

Archant failed to report ABC figures for 13 newspapers in East Anglia yesterday a week after the dismissal of a circulation director for falsifying sales figures.

Chief executive Adrian Jeakings last week said that only titles in Norfolk were affected, however seven Suffolk titles have also delayed publication.

The alleged falsification of circulation figures began in the second half of last year when Archant’s Norwich Evening News, Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star were the only daily papers in the UK to report year-on-year circulation increases.

In an email sent to staff last week, Jeakings said former circulation director Don Williamson ‘had falsified some copy sales’but insisted ‘these were corrected before final ABC numbers were submitted, so the numbers to be reported next week will be clean”.

But when the figures were released yesterday afternoon 13 of the group’s papers were missing – six in Norfolk and seven in Suffolk.

In his email to staff Jeakings said ‘the only titles where sales have been overstated are in Norfolk,’and he said that Archant was working with ABC to review some bulk copies recorded in its audited returns.

All but one of the papers that failed to supply ABC figures this year included bulk copies (those distributed free in hotels and gyms, for example) in their last set of audited figures covering July to December 2011 – and all but two reported year-on-year increases in circulation.

Here is a breakdown of circulation on the papers between July to December 2011:

Name of title; percentage of bulk copies; percentage change year on year

Norfolk

  • Eastern Daily Press: 59.082; 10.5% bulks; up 0.7%
  • Norwich Evening News: 18,931; 17.7% bulks; up 7.5%
  • Beccles & Bungay Journal: 6,857; 12% bulks; up 7.7%
  • Dereham & Fakenham: 7,134; 11% bulks; up 10%
  • Great Yarmouth Mercury: 17,175; 13.1% bulks; up 7.3%
  • North Norfolk News: 7,527; 9.1% bulks; up 6.7%

Suffolk

  • Ipswich Evening Star: 15,471; 19.1% bulks; up 0.4%
  • East Anglian Daily Times: 29,772; 10.8% bulks; up 0.3%
  • Bury St Edmunds Mercury (formerly Bury Mercury) : 22,462; 0.1% bulks; down 6.3%
  • Coastal Scene: 14,735; 0% bulks; up 25.5%;
  • Lowestoft Journal: 16,964; 15% bulks; up 7.8 per cent
  • Stowmarket Mercury: Registered with ABC in June 2012 but has not yet issu certificate.
  • Sudbury Mercury: 13,529; 0.1% bulks; -13%

An Archant spokesman said: “Our auditors have been unable to complete their internal procedures for both the Norfolk and Suffolk paid-for circulations in time for the ABC deadline”.

He added: ‘We will publish the new audited numbers shortly, once the auditors have finished their internal procedures.”

Yesterday morning the company announced that East Anglian Daily Times editor Terry Hunt was being promoted to editor-in-chief of Archant Suffolk, taking over the editorship of the Ipswich Star, with its former editor Nigel Pickover taking over as editor-in-chief of the company’s Norfolk daily titles

Former Eastern Daily Press editor Peter Waters has left the company, and ex-Norwich Evening News chief Tim Williams takes up the new role of ‘development editor”.

The company said the reshuffle had nothing to do with Williamson’s departure.

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