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Misleading statement on Dewsbury Press figures 'not to be repeated'

The Press in Dewsbury has been told not to run an ad again which claimed the title went into 42,000 homes.

The Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group challenged whether The Press could substantiate the claim.

Its ad stated in large text “NOW IN 42,000 HOMES EVERY WEEKEND**”.

The asterisks were linked to a footnote that read “**Free distribution of The Press is 40,536 plus average paid for sale of 1,462″.

The complainants also challenged the statement by The Press which said ” … we are the biggest newspaper in the district with 38 per cent more copies than the Dewsbury/Mirfield Reporter, Batley/Birstall News and Spenborough Guardian combined”.

The Advertising Standards Authority noted the claim “NOW IN 42,000 HOMES … ” was based on evidence from a distributor and retailer that were independent of The Press.

But it considered that only ABC (The Audit Bureau of Circulations) or VFD (Verified Free Distribution) figures should be used when making distribution or circulation claims, because those figures were the accepted industry standard for an independent audit of distribution and circulation.

Because the claim was not based on ABC and VFD figures the ASA concluded it was misleading. The ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 18.1 (Comparisons).

The Press also said, in relation to the second complaint, that according to the most recent figures published by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the biggest newspaper in the district had a circulation of 40,653.

They said their new circulation of 42,000 was bigger and supported their claim to be “the biggest newspaper in the district”. They said ABC’s circulation figures for the Dewsbury/Mirfield Reporter, the Batley/Birstall News and the Spenborough Guardian showed their combined average weekly sales figures for January to June 2007 amounted to 28,952. They said that was 11,048 less than their figure of 42,000, which amounted to a difference of 38 per cent.

But that complaint was also upheld with the figures labelled “misleading”.

The ASA report stated: “We noted that the statistics used by The Press to substantiate their claim were taken from ABC’s figures for January to June 2007.

“We also noted that they had compared their combined figures for sales and free distribution with three papers that were sold and not given away free.

“Because The Press had compared their distribution figures for September and October with their competitors’ figures for January to June, and because they had compared the distribution of their free newspaper with three titles that were sold and not given away for free, we concluded that the comparison was not fair and the claim was misleading.”

It warned the The Press that the ad should not appear again in its current form.