'Newsday' 2004 Audits Released, Others Pulled

By: E&P Staff Newsday Publisher Timothy Knight issued a memo to employees today explaining the recent drops in circulation and advising them to expect slow growth in the foreseeable future. The letter comes on the heels of the paper's most recent audit report, for the 12-month period ending September 2004, which was released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations this morning -- along with the audit bureau's announcement that it would recall its audit report for the period ending September 2002.

The paper has reduced its reliance on third-party sponsored copies, and Knight said in the memo that this was the reason for part of the circulation decline experienced over the past several months. Knight said he and his team found that in meeting with advertisers "it became clear that many of the third party circulation programs we had employed in the past were not valued."

Newsday is refocusing its strategy on "more valuable" circulation in home-delivered and single-copy sales, though it will take time to reap the benefits. "Many of the investments we are making ... are necessary to maintain growth. We do not expect them to result in dramatic growth." Knight warns that circulation for the next reporting period will be impacted.

ABC officially released the two audit reports for the 12-month period ending September 2004 and for the six-month period ending March 2004. The organization found the numbers to be consistent with Newsday's initial statements. For the 12-month period ending September 2004, daily circulation was 470,316 and Sunday circulation was 521,498. For the six-month period ending March 2004, daily circulation was 482,182 and Sunday circulation was 521,498.

Today ABC also announced that it could not verify circulation during the reporting period of Oct. 1, 2001, through Sept. 20, 2002, due to insufficient information. The organization recalled its audit reports for September 2002 and the corresponding publisher's statements for March 2002 and September 2002. ABC is also "withdrawing its unqualified opinion as to the material fairness of the circulation reported for the two years ending September 2000 and September 2001," according to a statement.

Newspapers are not required to keep information after an audit.

Newsday Spokesman Stu Vincent said that at this point the paper has no plans to go back and offer more resolutions to cover those periods in question. Knight wrote in a memo yesterday that Newsday "said all along that there were limited records available prior to September 2002." However, adjustments to 2002 circulation were included in the make-good plan.

The Tribune Co. set aside $90 million toward advertiser compensation over the circulation scandals. Vincent said of the 40,000 letters sent out to advertisers, 25,000 have been signed.


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