ABC Yanks Circulation Report After Errors Found

By: Joe Strupp

The Audit Bureau of Circulations FAS-FAX report for the six-month period ending March 31, which ABC released Wednesday, will have to be reissued in its entirety later this week due to errors in the reporting of some circulation numbers for the same six-month period a year earlier, according to ABC spokeswoman Laura Hagensick.

While ABC executives have not determined how many errors were in the latest semiannual FAS-FAX, Hagensick said there were enough to warrant a reissue of the entire report. “It will be out as soon as we can possibly get it out the door,” said Hagensick. “They are working on it, and we hope it will be out in the next couple of days.”

Hagensick blamed the errors on a computer glitch that, in an undetermined number of cases, incorrectly added bulk-sales circulation numbers twice to the figures for the six-month period ended March 31, 2001. She said the numbers for the six-month period ended this March 31 were correct.

“We have to reprint every copy and resend it to every single [ABC] member,” said Hagensick, who did not know the cost of the reissue, but said it would be done in-house. “I’m not aware that it has ever happened before where we had to reissue a FAS-FAX report.”

While the number of newspapers whose figures were incorrectly reported in the FAS-FAX is not known, executives at the San Francisco Chronicle and The Seattle Times confirmed that both newspapers were among those affected.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” said Mei-Mei Chan, vice president for circulation for the Seattle Times Co. “I think they take careful precautions. They will hopefully change it and move on.”

ABC, based in Schaumburg, Ill., and in existence since 1914, launched the FAS-FAX report in 1970. The report presents preliminary circulation figures as filed with ABC by 820 daily newspapers.

The accuracy of two E&P Online news stories — based on ABC’s numbers for the top 10 daily and Sunday newspapers and posted Wednesday — may or may not have been affected by the glitch. Those stories have been removed from E&P Online. They will be reposted after they are checked against the reissued FAS-FAX.

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