Tags: WSJ | Europe | circulation | Auditor

WSJ Europe May Be Probed by Circulation Auditor

Friday, 14 Oct 2011 02:02 PM

Britain's newspaper circulation auditor said it may re-examine a sponsorship deal between the Wall Street Journal Europe and a Dutch consulting firm that raised questions about the Journal's circulation data.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations, which had earlier approved the sponsorship agreement, said it had recently looked at it again "based on some new evidence available."

"There now appears to be additional new information which may give grounds for further investigation," ABC UK Chief Executive Jerry Wright said in an e-mailed statement.

The Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday that the WSJ Europe had used the Dutch firm, the Executive Learning Partnership, to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper, misleading advertisers about its true circulation.

WSJ Europe publisher Andrew Langhoff resigned a day earlier over what the Journal said were ethical issues related to the paper's relationship with ELP, which was not disclosed in articles that prominently mentioned the firm.

The Journal, owned by the Dow Jones unit of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said the Guardian article was "replete with untruths and malign interpretations."

"Andrew Langhoff resigned because of a perceived breach of editorial integrity, not because of circulation programs, whose copies were certified by the ABC UK," the Journal said on Wednesday.

The Guardian said the WSJ Europe had used ELP to take up to 12,000 copies of the paper per day — about 16 percent of total circulation — for which it was paying just 1 cent per copy.

As part of the deal, the WSJ Europe promised to write articles that would promote ELP's activities, the Guardian said.

 

NO PROMISE

ELP issued a statement denying that it had been involved in any scheme to artificially boost the Journal's circulation, or that it had been promised any editorial coverage.

"ELP is not pleased that our name appears in this context, which seems to be driven by internal dynamics in WSJE and the current investigative climate around News Corp. organizations," the company said.

A Dow Jones spokesman said the company has been in contact with ABC UK since July and reached out again Thursday.

"We have always been transparent with the ABC, and they have certified this program over recent reporting periods," said the spokesperson in an e-mail. "We plan to meet with them soon and review all the details with them again."

Sponsorship deals are controversial, but not unusual in the newspaper industry.

ABC UK said it had examined the agreement when it was first set up in 2009 and again when it audited the July-December 2010 circulation figures, and found it to be in order.

It said investigations were confidential until complete, and results were published only in cases where complaints are upheld.

The Guardian has led an investigative campaign into phone-hacking practices at another Murdoch newspaper, Britain's News of the World, which was shut earlier this year as a result.

A spokesman for ABC in the United States said there was no additional audit or investigation planned of the circulation practices of the Journal's U.S. edition.

News Corp acquired the Journal, a trophy purchase for Murdoch, as part of Dow Jones in 2007.

Dow Jones competes with Thomson Reuters Corp.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Britain's newspaper circulation auditor said it may re-examine a sponsorship deal between the Wall Street Journal Europe and a Dutch consulting firm that raised questions about the Journal's circulation data. The Audit Bureau of Circulations, which had earlier approved the...
WSJ,Europe,circulation,Auditor
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Friday, 14 Oct 2011 02:02 PM
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