This follows the ABC’s finding that the magazine had overstated its circulation figures by 2,810 in the quarter January to March 2006 and by 3,439 in January to March 2007. The finance magazine’s reported circulation figures for these quarters were 29,003 and 34,374 respectively.
The ABC based its finding on an audit of all Media24 magazine titles, commissioned after discrepancies in the circulation figures of seven of the group’s magazine titles had been found. A subsequent audit, commissioned by Media24, had found five more titles had fraudulently inflated their circulation figures.
Last week the ABC said in a statement the audit it had ordered, revealed “a number of other transactions which have not been correctly reported”.
“In particular, those involve inter-group transactions which, inter alia, have breached the Code of Conduct of the ABC. This conduct is disapproved of by the Board which requires that the circulation figures of these titles covering the period January 2006 to March 2007 be invalidated or re-classified.”
Finweek was one of the titles mentioned in the release as having overstated its circulation in two cases.
Rikus Delport, general manager of Fin24, told TheMediaOnline the publication was still awaiting a response from the ABC detailing the reasons for its decision to amend Finweek‘s circulation figures for the above-mentioned quarters.
Finweek yesterday (11 February) declared a formal dispute with the ABC.
Delport said in the absence of the reasons, Finweek assumed the ABC’s decision was related to inter-group transactions, specifically a deal between Finweek and Touchline.
He said Finweek, in a bid to introduce the magazine to potential readers, identified mediums with similar target markets to its target audience. These included Sports Illustrated.
A deal was agreed to according to which Touchline would buy copies of Finweek to distribute to subscribers of for example Sports Illustrated.
The recipients had the option to cancel these copies.
“We can prove that every copy was delivered to an individual,” Delport said.
He said the ABC had approved this contract in principle. The condition was that the transaction should be at arm’s length Ã¢Â€Â“ something Finweek claims had been the case, according to advice from senior counsel sought following the ABC’s release on Friday.
Asked to respond to media reports referring to Finweek‘s actions as “cheating” and a “scam”, Delport said, had it been a scam, the ABC would have suspended Finweek.
“The matter relates to a difference in opinion between the ABC and Finweek in the interpretation of the (ABC) rules.
“Even the ABC release does not say there was fraud or dishonesty.”
Delport said he wanted to know why the ABC had not disapproved of the transaction “in the first place”.
In Finweek‘s opinion the transaction did not contravene the ABC’s rules.
Charles Beiles, ABC general manager, confirmed that he had received a letter this morning (12 February) according to which Finweek had declared a dispute with the ABC.
Beiles said he could not elaborate on the inter-group transactions mentioned in the ABC’s release, given the dispute.
He said a dispute resolution committee would now be set up to deal with the matter.
Beiles said this was the first dispute of its kind declared with the ABC since he had joined the ABC four years ago.
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