Monday, May 14, 2007

'Paper dumping' hotline planned

'Paper dumping' hotline planned
Mark Sweney

Ditched: copies of the London Paper and London Lite in a bin. Photo: Christian Sinibaldi

Londoners fed up with seeing dumped copies of London Lite and the London Paper around the capital may soon have an outlet for their frustration, with plans afoot for a complaints line people can call to report alleged dumping.
A complaints line is one of four proposals the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the body that audits newspaper sales, is considering as it seeks to stamp out dumping of the two London freesheets.

The ABC said its investigation of alleged dumping had found evidence that copies of London Lite, published by Associated Newspapers, and the News International-owned London Paper are being ditched.

As a result ABC is asking the publishers of both freesheets to adhere to a tighter code of conduct, including giving "consideration" to setting up a dumping complaints phone line for members of the public to report offences.

"The review has identified that copies of newspapers are being dumped which is, obviously, not compliant with the ABC rules," the organisation said.

ABC added that it was, however, "satisfied" that the reported circulation figures for April are "materially compliant".

"Having identified the distinct risk associated with hand distribution, ABC, in conjunction with publishers, has been working on improving the publisher management controls still further," the organisation added.

"ABC will be requiring additional improvements to the management control and reporting of the distribution."

The body's four-point plan to stamp out freesheet dumping in London also includes increased focus on internal publisher controls, compliance checking and complaints handling.

ABC is proposing more regular spot checks within London Lite and the London Paper distribution areas to monitor the effectiveness of publishers' compliance procedures and an ongoing review of hand distribution and ABC certification by industry representatives.

The circulation body launched the review following tit-for-tat allegations made last month by News International and Associated Newspapers - including the latter's release of video and photographic evidence that distributors were dumping free papers.

ABC said the review was instigated despite the fact that neither publisher made a formal complaint.

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