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Weekly 'misled' readers over claims to be No.1

The advertising watchdog has upheld a complaint against Stroud Life newspaper over a front page flash advert proclaiming itself the area’s leading local paper.

The ad in question stated ‘No.1 local newspaper in Stroud and the five valleys’ which Newsquest Gloucestershire and Wales, publishers of rival weekly the Stroud News and Journal, said was misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaint and said it should not appear in its current form again.

In its ruling, the ASA said of the front page flash: “We considered that the claim…..was a comparison against all other local newspapers available in Stroud and the five valleys.

“We noted the claim was unqualified; the ad did not make clear whether it referred to circulation, readership or another criterion, nor was it qualified by reference to a particular time period.

“We considered that the lack of that information made it impossible for readers to determine the basis for the comparison.”

In the same edition of Stroud Life, a supplementary advert appeared which provided comparative figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for Stroud Life and the Stroud News and Journal.

They showed that during the second half of 2008 Stroud Life’s circulation was 16,018 while the Stroud News and Journal’s was 14,141.

Newsquest made a second complaint about this advert, claiming that it was also misleading as Stroud Life was distributed to areas beyond the town.

If figures were provided for Stroud Life’s circulation within Stroud alone, they would be much lower, said Newsquest.

This second complaint was rejected by the ASA as they believed the statements made by publishers about areas served were general in nature and not a precise analysis of where circulation occurs.

In its response Gloucestershire Media, the division of Northcliffe Media which owns Stroud Life, said it believed the front page flash was not misleading because of the supplementary advert containing circulation figures.

This claim was rejected by the ASA because the flash made no link to the supplementary ad in the same edition containing the comparative circulation figures.

The flash advert also failed to give a postal address or website where readers could verify Stroud Life’s claim that it was the town’s number one paper.

  • To read the full ruling visit the ASA website.