Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Man of 'The Hour' Enjoys Engagement

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Man of 'The Hour' Enjoys Engagement

Article excerpt

Paper's third-party sales spark scuffle

Since the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) liberalized its definition of paid circulation, newspapers have found no end to ways of using third-party sales to nudge their net paid numbers by a percentage point or two.

But even skeptics who worried that selling deeply discounted copies to third parties would cheapen the value of paid circulation probably couldn't have imagined a daily paper more than doubling its circulation that way.

Still, that's just what The Hour in Norwalk, Conn., did. Eight months ago, it launched a weekly to target neighboring Stamford. Calling it an "edition" of its Sunday paper, The Hour sold 17,766 copies of The Stamford Times to auto dealers, grocers, and the like, and mailed free copies (paid for by the advertisers) to Stamford households. Counting all of this as paid circulation, The Hour ballooned its Sunday circ to 31,453 in the six months ended March 31 from 14,251 a year earlier.

"The plan is working," Chet Valiante, publisher of The Hour, said cheerily. "We have no plans to discontinue it."

The Stamford Advocate (circulation 27,000 weekdays and 31,644 Sunday), which scoffed at the weekly plan back in September, isn't laughing now. Craig Allen, vice president of operations, accused The Hour of violating the spirit of the ABC rules, if not the letter, and has complained to ABC.

"Their outlandish circulation claim is at our expense," Allen said. …

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