ABC to re-evaluate audit processes

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) is reviewing its newspaper auditing process following the Trinity Mirror affair, admitting that it may not be robust enough to prevent similar abuses.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) is reviewing its newspaper

auditing process following the Trinity Mirror affair, admitting that it

may not be robust enough to prevent similar abuses.



The admission comes after a month-long investigation by the ABC into

claims of inflated circulation figures at three Trinity Mirror titles:

the Birmingham Post, The Birmingham Evening Mail and the Sunday

Mercury.



One of the objectives of the investigation was to establish whether

current audit processes and inspections could be improved.



In a prepared statement, an ABC spokeswoman said: ’The investigation has

led the ABC to review whether its inspection process is strong enough to

protect the system of independent auditing from further events of this

scale.’



She added that the council is currently evaluating exactly what changes

are needed, but could not say when the results would be announced.



The investigation confirmed the scale of the apparent irregularities

involved in the Trinity Mirror case, implying that advertisers,

newsagents and the ABC may all have been deceived.



Although the ABC believes there is no evidence to suggest Trinity Mirror

was anything other than an isolated case, it has imposed sanctions on

the three titles.



They will be suspended from ABC membership until January 2000; monthly

audits will be carried out on the papers from January until December

2000; and only ABC auditors will be allowed to undertake the audit

work.



The ABC’s decision comes just a week after a row between Trinity Mirror

and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising over the newspaper

group’s decision to set up an arbitration panel to assess advertisers’

compensation claims.



The IPA declared the move was a delaying tactic and refused to join.



Trinity Mirror hit back by accusing the IPA of failing to come up with

an alternative workable solution (Marketing, December 9).



However, as Marketing went to press, both parties were meeting to try to

find a way forward.



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