Press and Journal severs ABC links in sales dispute

Martyn Gates

The Press and Journal, Northcliffe’s Aberdeen-based regional daily, has pulled out of the Audit Bureau of Circulation after a clash over the way its sales should be reported.

The split has come after the P&J was asked by the ABC to give individual certificates for each of the paper’s seven editions, plus a group certificate combining the figures rather than report a single figure.

It will now have its sales audited independently by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Allan Smith, the paper’s circulation director, said: "The Press & Journal is one newspaper, not a group, and we do not believe it is appropriate for our business to produce separate certificates for each of our editions.

"Consequently we have decided to withdraw the Press & Journal from the ABC system and will now publish independently audited circulation figures directly.

"Although the Press & Journal is no longer with the ABC system, we have always enjoyed a good working relationship with the bureau and a recent inspection by its auditors highlighted our figures to be a fair and accurate reflection of our sales."

The Press and Journal circulates throughout the north of Scotland and has one of the largest circulation areas of any regional newspaper.

Martyn Gates, ABC director of newspaper and consumer magazines, told Press Gazette: "We have a rule that has been in existence for some time that editions of a regional newspaper can be counted as one figure if they have common advertising of at least 70 per cent. The Press and Journal has regionalised its advertising and dropped below this figure. Under the rules they were asked to report each edition separately but they would also have had a group certificate.

"They decided they didn’t want to report the editions separately which is a decision for them. It was all very amicable. We are sorry they have decided to resign from ABC and hope that one day they will return." Smith stressed: "Although, like other regional daily newspapers, the Press and Journal is editionised to provide a strong element of local content, its core strength is its brand which is trusted by readers throughout the northern half of Scotland." PricewaterhouseCoopers’ audit of the paper for the period January to June puts average daily sales at 98,763 copies per day.

This compares to its previous ABC figure of 97,146 for the period July to December 2000. It was 101,642 for January to June 2000.

Its sister evening paper in Aberdeen, the Evening Express, is to remain within the ABC.

Full regional newspaper ABC coverage, pages 12 and 13

Jon Slattery

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