News International-owned freesheet thelondonpaper is to quit the National Readership Survey following the paper repeatedly trailing its Associated rival London Lite, reports Media Week.
Thelondonpaper distributes 100,000 more copies than London Lite, but according to NRS data for October 2007 to September 2008 London Lite has a readership of 1,058,000 – 69,000 more than thelondonpaper.
Whilst the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures reveal the number of copies distributed, the NRS uses a survey of a panel of 36,000 people to calculate how many readers a publication has.
Managing director of thelondonpaper Ian Clark said: “The NRS is misleading and increasingly irrelevant for the free papers when sample sizes remain ridiculously low. There were 312 respondents for thelondonpaper for the last six-month survey, during which time more than 30 million papers were distributed.”
Clarke said he is waiting for a new chief executive to be appointed at NRS before making a final decision whether to withdraw or not.
Managing director at London Lite Steve Auckland said it was “typical of News International”. He said: ‘If the sample does not fit, they just want to change the currency”.