Archant releases new ABC figures after circulation director's sacking over falsified figures

ABC has published circulation figures for the Archant titles in Norfolk and Suffolk that had to be re-audited after a circulation director was sacked for falsifying sales figures.

Archant Norfolk's circulation director Don Williamson was dismissed for gross misconduct in August when chief executive Adrian Jeakings said the manipulation dated back to the second half of 2011. Between June to December 2001 the Norwich Evening News and Eastern Daily Press were two of only four regional dailies in the UK to report year-on-year circulation increases.

At the time it was reported the Evening News was the best performing daily title in the UK, up 7.5 per cent year on year to 18,931 (including 3,134 bulk copies), followed by the Eastern Daily Press, which was up 0.7 per cent to 59,802 (inc 5,869 bulks).

But amended figures released this morning show the Evening News was in fact down 6.2 per cent to 16,514 (including 1,484 bulks) and the Eastern Daily Press was down 6.5 per cent to 55,553 (2,224 bulks).

In an internal announcement to staff Adrian Jeakings, Archant Chief Executive, described the situation as “very disappointing.”

“The review and audit process has been thorough and complete and we have put new controls in place to ensure there is no recurrence of these problems,” he said.

“We will continue to strive to maintain and grow print circulation by all legitimate means possible, but primarily through the promotion and marketing of our newspapers’ excellent content, which remains undiminished.

“Having now resolved the issues identified, we can again start to grow sales of our newspapers.  Early indications are encouraging.”

The company has also announced that Darron McLoughlin has been appointed to lead circulation for Archant Anglia, joining from Johnston Press where he is currently head of newspaper sales

Archant Anglia MD, Johnny Hustler, said: “We are now determined to put this matter behind us. The falsification of our circulation numbers caused a shockwave across our hardworking and dedicated teams in Archant Anglia, who are now working more closely than ever to produce great newspapers which engage with our readers and deliver results for our advertisers.”

Jan Pitt, group executive director, client services, at ABC said: “Archant engaged with ABC as soon as they identified there was an issue with their circulation reporting, and we have worked closely with them to complete the audit of their titles in Norfolk and Suffolk. We have welcomed their constructive engagement and commitment.”

Here are all the revised figures for July to December 2011 (name of title, average circulation, % change year on year):

Daily titles

  • Ipswich - East Anglian Daily Times: 29,772; 0.3%
  • Evening Star: 15,471; 0.4%
  • Eastern Daily Press: 55,553; -6.5%
  • Norwich - Evening News: 16,514; -6.2%

Non-Daily titles

  • The Advertiser - Norwich edition: 54,833; -0.6%
  • The Advertiser - Waveney edition: 44,297; 4.3%
  • The Advertiser - Yarmouth edition: 39,893; -4.0%
  • Beccles & Bungay Journal: 6,113; -4.0%
  • Bury Mercury: 22,462; -6.3%
  • Coastal Scene: 14,375; 25.5%
  • Dereham & Fakenham Times: 6,457; -0.4%
  • Diss Mercury: 12,185; -0.2%
  • Great Yarmouth Mercury: 15,125; -5.5%
  • Lowestoft Journal: 15,027; -4.5%
  • North Norfolk News: 6,928; -1.8%
  • Sudbury Mercury: 13,529; -13.0%
  • Thetford & Watton Times: 18,659; 675 0.1%
  • Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: 13,745; -0.1%

Williamson’s sacking meant that Archant also had to delay its latest circulation figures for the first six months of 2012.

They reveal that the Norwich Evening News was down 17.8 per cent year on year to 15,750 (1,938 bulks), the Eastern Daily Press fell 10.5 per cent to 53,233 (3,769 bulks) and East Anglian Daily Times dropped 4 per cent to 28,754 (1,453 bulks.)

The Ipswich Star, which is now part paid-for and part free, increased circulation by 20.2 per cent to 18,451. Of those, 1,224 were bulk copies and 11,351 were newsstands or subscription sales.

Archant announced that 14 jobs in editorial were being cut in January when scrapped the Saturday edition of the Star and launched a new weekly called the Stowmarket Mercury

Here are all the figures for January to July 2012 (name of title, average circulation, % change year on year):

Daily titles

  • Ipswich - East Anglian Daily Times: 28,745;  -4.0%
  • Ipswich Star: 18,451; 20.2%
  • Norwich: Eastern Daily Press; 53,233 -10.5%
  • Norwich: Evening News; 15,750 -17.8%

Non-daily Titles

  • The Advertiser - Norwich edition: 55,896; 0.2%
  • The Advertiser - Waveney edition: 44,406; 1.0%
  • The Advertiser - Yarmouth edition: 41,230; 1.9%
  • Beccles & Bungay Journal: 5,650; -15.3%
  • Bury St Edmunds Mercury: 23,052; 0.3%
  • Coastal Scene: 10,295; -23.9%
  • Dereham & Fakenham Times: 6,328; -8.5%
  • Diss Mercury: 12,526; 2.6%
  • Great Yarmouth Mercury: 14,705; -13.7%
  • Lowestoft Journal: 14,302; -13.9%
  • North Norfolk News: 6,619; -7.9%
  • Stowmarket Mercury: 11,267; NA
  • Sudbury Mercury: 13,693; -5.3%
  • Thetford & Watton Times: 18,754; 0.6%
  • Wymondham & Attleborough Mercury: 13,802; 0.6%

In August, East Anglian Daily Times editor Terry Hunt was promoted to editor-in-chief of Archant Suffolk, taking over the editorship of the Ipswich Star, and the Star's editor Nigel Pickover was made editor-in-chief of the company's Norfolk daily titles, overseeing both the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News.

He replaced Peter Waters, who left the business, and while Norwich Evening News editor Tim Williams took up the new role of development editor across both the Suffolk and Norfolk operations. At the time Archant said the moves were unrelated to Williamson's departure.

 

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