Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertiser Charges Inflated Circulation

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertiser Charges Inflated Circulation

Article excerpt

Suit by furniture store alleges overstated circulation by East Bay papers resulted in inflated ad costs

A LOCAL FURNITURE store has filed a class-action lawsuit charging the Oakland Tribune and Hayward Daily Review in the San Francisco East Bay area with inflating circulation figures and thus overcharging advertisers.

The suit in Alameda County Superior Court names as defendants Alameda Newspapers Inc. and its corporate parents, Garden State Newspapers Inc. and MediaNews Group Inc., both controlled by William Dean Singleton.

The complaint by Walters Furniture Inc. of Pleasanton says the two papers in the past year "substantially overstated" their circulations - the Tribune by 17%, the Daily Review by 6%. The overstated figures misled advertisers as to the number of potential customers ads could attract and inflated advertising costs. Damages are sought for alleged fraud, violation of the state's business and professions code, and negligent misrepresentation.

The suit, prepared by the San Jose law firm of Roberts & Elliott, uses Audit Bureau of Circulations figures to support its allegations. In an April 1998 ABC report, the complaint says. the Tribune's "true paid" weekday circulation was 69,629, with an average daily circulation of 66,685, and the Daily Review's weekday circulation was 36,753, 37,015 Sunday, while the Tribune presented its daily circulation to advertisers as 83,710, 82,564 Sundays, while the Daily Review reported weekday sales at 38,986, 39,343 Sunday

The audits show that the papers "failed to follow ABC guidelines for calculating paid circulation," the suit charges. …

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