Auditor ABC to launch review after WSJ Europe scandal

LONDON Wed Jan 4, 2012 6:59am EST

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's newspaper circulation auditor plans to review its reporting standards after a scandal at the Wall Street Journal Europe last year raised questions about whether the News Corp-owned title was artificially inflating its figures.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations said on Wednesday it had found no clear evidence that the WSJ Europe had not complied with its standards but planned the review to ensure greater clarity in the future.

The WSJ Europe's publisher resigned in October over what the newspaper said were ethical issues related to its relationship with Dutch consulting firm ELP, which was not disclosed in articles prominently mentioning the firm.

The Guardian newspaper reported ELP had agreed to take up to 12,000 copies of the WSJ Europe per day, about 16 percent of its total circulation, for 1 eurocent ($0.01) per copy -- ABC's minimum requirement for international publications.

Both the Journal and ELP denied any impropriety in their circulation deal.

ABC said in a statement on Wednesday: "The payment arrangements underlying this contract were complex and at times circuitous but ABC has found no clear evidence that these copies should be regarded as not compliant."

"Given the questions raised ABC has initiated a review of the reporting standards governing circulation arrangements of this sort to ensure they fully reflect industry requirements and provide the requisite clarity for all concerned." ($1 = 0.7661 euro)

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)