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Yorkshire weekly rapped by ASA for same offence

A West Yorkshire weekly has fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority for the second time in a year – and for the same offence.

The Press, based in Dewsbury and owned by Newspost Ltd, carried a front page ad claiming it was the best-read title in Kirklees.

The ad read: “Dewsbury & Mirfield Reporter: 11,554 copies and falling. Batley & Birstall News: 8,292 copies and falling. The Press: 33,000 homes a week! The paper that’s the best read in Kirklees”.

A complaint was lodged by the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group with the ASA, saying the comparison was likely to mislead because it did not give the source for the figures.

The company, a division of Johnston Press, also complained the ad did not include the Spenborough Guardian, a third title of theirs alongside the Reporter and the News, all circulating in the same area as The Press.

Exactly the same complaint was lodged by Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group against The Press this time last year and the ASA upheld them both.

Ironically, The Press claimed last year that it was distributed to 42,000 homes – a fall 9,000 copies compared with this year’s controversial advert.

In its latest ruling, the ASA said it was wrong to compare the figures of a free title with two paid-for papers and that the Reporter had actually posted a slight increase in circulation.

It added: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Press to ensure future comparative claims were both clear and fair.

“We considered that, because we had not seen evidence to support it, the comparative claim ‘The paper that’s the best read in Kirklees’, was likely to mislead.”

In its response, The Press said the circulation figures for the Dewsbury & Mirfield Reporter and Batley & Birstall News were taken from the published ABC figures.

The Press also sent a letter from distributor TNT stating they delivered just under 30,000 copies to Verified Free Distribution (VFD) standard. The paper said they also distributed more free copies on top of that and sold some in local stores.

In addition, The Press said they and the Spenborough Guardian both covered Cleckheaton, but so did a number of other papers, including the Yorkshire Post, the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Reporter Extra and the Wakefield Express.

The Press said they could not fit all of those titles into the small amount of space allocated at the top of the paper, therefore left them out.