An advertisement for the Dewsbury Press in Yorkshire claiming it had more readers than its rivals has been banned by the advertising watchdog.
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the front-page flash breached the truthfulness clause of the advertising code of practice and made unfair comparisons.
The ad read: “Dewsbury & Mirfield Reporter: 11,554 copies and falling. Batley & Birstall News: 8,292 copies and falling. The Press: 33,000 homes a week! The paper that’s the best read in Kirklees.”
The Johnston Press-owned Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, which publishes the Reporter and the News, complained that the claim was misleading and said the source for the figures should have been mentioned.
The Press said the figures quoted for the Reporter and the News were officially audited ABC results.
It provided a letter from its distributors stating it handed out 30,000 free copies of The Press, and said more free copies were distributed on top of that.
The ASA ruled that it was wrong to compare the audited circulation of two paid-for newspapers with unaudited figures for a free title.
“Because The Press was distributed mainly as a free paper and the other two papers in the comparison were paid-for titles, the comparison was presented in the ad in such a way that it was likely to mislead,” it said.
The watchdog also said that describing the Reporter’s circulation as falling was inaccurate and misleading, because the title had posted a slight increase in circulation compared with the previous ABC auditing period.
On the claim to be the “best-read” paper in Kirklees, the ASA added: “We considered that, because we had not seen evidence to support it, the comparative claim was likely to mislead. We told The Press to ensure future comparative claims were both clear and fair.”