So who has been kidded all these years of bulking sales figures with giveaway copies under one heading or another? The advertising industry? No way: it is the primary customer of the Audit Bureau of Circulations and supervises its arithmetic.
Rival publishers? Forget it: they too know the score. And they are aware that, were all copies capable of being deemed cut-price to be deducted, some price-war circulations could be calculated as nil.
Which leaves the readers. Who, fickle though they are entitled to be, choose a newspaper for its value to them, not its ABC figure (including or excluding free samples, advance subscription bargains and foreign dumping).
Unhappy to have been the bulk-market leader (and to find its daily now under the magic million even with bulks) the Telegraph Group is to cease spending a fortune to sustain a transparent illusion.
Although this will leave its Sunday the more naked, it should be enough for the group that its six-day flagship outsells its broadsheet competitors.
Will the Telegraph’s realism be contagious? Silly question. On the days the ABCs are downloaded, objectivity goes into the kill bin.
A year after its 9/11 conversion to deadly earnestness, the Daily Mirror headlines its SUCCESS STORY OF THE YEAR, though the ABCs show the gap between it and The Sun widened by 307,833 year-on-year.
Another 12 months of such success for Piers Morgan’s black-top, and it will be two million behind The Sun.
Two cheers for Dyke
Greg Dyke has taken a lot of stick since moving in as BBC director general and, more important to its journalists, BBC editor-in-chief. But his standing among them is now much enhanced by his readiness to back vital lawsuits in defence of his documentary makers.
Without Dyke’s resolution, Panorama’s exposure of Jockey Club incompetence in tackling corruption would never have been aired. And Kent police would have got away with rubbishing the reputation of Donal MacIntyre, whose undercover investigation exposed care home abuse.
The High Court victory against the Jockey Club attempt to injunct Panorama and the extraction of heavy costs and damages from Kent constabulary must have been music to Dyke’s oft-bashed ears.
If he fancies an encore, how about moving Panorama back to the prime-time weekday slot that the BBC’s world-class documentary programme deserves?