The BBC insisted that its news website remains more popular than the website of the Daily Mail – flatly contradicting a statement put out by the newspaper.
Citing figures from Comscore, Mail Online claimed 44.7m unique global visitors in June – which it said gave it a 35 per cent lead on the BBC News website.
But the BBC said the Mail's figures do not include traffic from the sport, weather and World Service parts of the BBC's news offering. When these are included, the BBC said that Comscore gives it a tally of 57.4m unique browsers – well ahead of Mail Online.
A spokesman said: 'In Q1 of 2012 the BBC News website was visited by an average of 39m unique browsers each week worldwide. In the UK, the BBC uses weekly figures as opposed to monthly because we see them as more accurate.
'The Comscore figures quoted by the Mail for BBC News do not include content from other parts of BBC Online such as Sport, Weather and the World Service, which also form part of our news and information services to audiences.
'Taking these into account, Comscore's overall figure for the BBC website shows that it was visited by 57.4million unique browsers in June."
No-one was available for comment yesterday when Press Gazette sought further information from Mail Online about its figures.