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
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
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
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’
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.