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Panpa Bulletin : November December 2006
News Limited's case against Roy Morgan's Research focuses on the "huge swings" recorded in the readership data relating to its national flagship, The Australian, and its top-selling Sunday masthead, Sydney's Sunday Telegraph; the contrary findings (good circula- tion growth, readership down) on Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun; and "sampling issues" affecting Perth's Sunday Times and The Geelong Advertiser. Here are the details of the listed anomlies: HUGE SWINGS IN READERSHIP DATA The Australian Over two and-a- half years readership for week- day issues there has been a swing of +/- 35,000 or 9-10 per cent. While the September 2006 readership results for the paper rose 7.6 pc on the same period a year ago (up from 396,000 to 426,000), an estab- lished title should not be experiencing this level of year on year swings. These swings are due to the inability of a door to door survey to adequately sample upmarket individuals who read titles like The Australian Financial Review. The AFR has also experienced similar swings in its readership. The Sunday Telegraph Over the last four years, The Sunday Telegraph has seen wild swings in readership, Readership of the paper has experienced losses and gains of more than 90,000 readers at various times year on year over the last four years, despite circulation remaining quite stable over the period. READERSHIP AT ODDS WITH CIRCULATION Sunday Herald Sun Over the past six years circulation has in- creased by 82,000 (+15.5 pc) whereas reader- ship has risen by 47,000 (+3.2 pc). However, over the last two years readership has dropped by 68,000. In the same two-year period, circulation has increased by 10,000. SAMPLING ISSUES a) Western Australia (where News owns The Sunday Times) In WA, there have been signficant issues with sampling. The overall sample has fallen by 463 interviews or almost 10 pc. This is significant especially when population has increased by 1.7 pc. Most of this has been from Perth and is reflected in massive readership losses for all newspapers. Since September 2005 there has been a steady decline in the number of people inter- viewed in WA for the Quarterly Sample Size. In the most recent quarter the sample size dropped from 1300 to 911 -- a drop of 30 pc. b) Geelong Readerships results have been a major con- cern in Geelong (where News publishers the The Geelong Advertiser) for some time because of the relatively small percentage of the popu- lation surveyed and flawed methodology on where the surveys are carried out. The September results had been based on a survey of just 493 people over the previous 12 months (approximately 125 per quarter). Geelong's results had been affected by a move from the Mighty V database to the na- tional database in March 2006, which resulted in an increase in the number of people sur- veyed outside the primary coverage area. The fluctuation in the results was also of concern as Morgan had advised shifts of up to +/- 8.6 pc per quarter, or up to 12,000 readers either way. News Ltd s case against Morgan the first directly comparable audit period will be the July-September 2007. However, a table listing cir- culations based on publishers' statements covering sales of the July-September 05 period, released by the ABC, which was published (page 30) in the November/ December 2005 issue of the PANPA Bulletin, provides a useful reference for checking emerging trends. News circulation director Mark Webster says that without comparing audit figures, one of the major highlights for his group has been the success of the new compact Courier-Mail, currently averaging 224,690 sales on week- days and 326,767 on Saturdays. "Since the conversion from the broadsheet to the compact format in March of this year, the average Monday-Friday sales of the Brisbane daily have increased by more than 20,000, whilst the Saturday paper has seen a lift of more than 10,000 copies," said Webster. To police the ABC's new rules, which are the outcome of the first comprehensive review in the organisation's 75 year history, an audit inspector has been appoint- ed. Penalties for publishers who break the rules include fines of up to $10,000. The four quarterly sales audits (formerly two) apply to all pub- lications with sales of more than 25,000. While publications below that figure remain on 26-week audits, a number have opted for quarterly release. "...the Audit Bureau took the line that no meaningful comparison can be made against previously released data and that the rst directly comparable audit period will be the July-September 2007." continued from page 7 8 | PANPA BULLETIN November--December 2006 NEWS