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Car dealer sues Star Tribune over circulation

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Central-KY-Kid, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. http://www.startribune.com/535/v-print/story/1027405.html

    Car dealer sues Star Tribune over circulation
    The dealership's former owners make claims similar to those in a 2005 lawsuit that was settled.

    By Thomas Lee, Star Tribune

    The former owners of a Coon Rapids car dealership are suing the Star Tribune, accusing the newspaper of inflating its circulation figures in order to charge higher advertising rates.
    Coon Rapids Lincoln Mercury Inc. charges that the Star Tribune pressured its distributors to buy excess newspapers that the paper then counted toward its circulation, according to the suit filed in Hennepin County District Court. In some cases, the paper would refuse to renew the contracts of distributors who did not sign affidavits containing inflated circulation figures, according to the suit.

    The suit is seeking class-action status to represent other companies that advertised in the paper between 2001 and 2006. A second plaintiff, Custom Search Inc., decided to withdraw from the case after it was filed in October.

    Ben Taylor, a Star Tribune spokesman, said the lawsuit is "without merit." He said the Audit Bureau of Circulations, an independent agency that tracks newspaper circulation, has verified the accuracy of the Star Tribune's circulation numbers.

    "We continued to be audited without any adjustments," Taylor said.

    The lawsuit is the second of its kind against the Star Tribune in two years. Some other major newspapers, including the Chicago Sun Times, Dallas Morning News and Newsday, have been sued on similar claims. Those papers later admitted to manipulating their numbers.

    Jeff Baill, a lawyer representing Coon Rapids Lincoln Mercury, noted that the audit bureau also had verified the circulation figures at those papers.

    "That sort of speaks volumes to me," Baill said.

    In 2005, the Star Tribune reached a settlement with two advertisers who had claimed the paper inflated its circulation figures. Under the agreement, the newspaper -- which maintained that it did nothing wrong -- agreed to pay up to $40,000 in attorney's fees for Masterson Personnel and Alternative Staffing. The newspaper also agreed to provide up to $15,000 in advertising credits to the companies in 2007 if both firms maintained or exceeded their 2005 advertising budgets with the Star Tribune in 2006.

    Baill said his lawsuit is "substantially similar" to that earlier case.

    Thomas Lee • 612-673-7744 • tlee@startribune.com

    ©2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
  2. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Jeff Baill, a lawyer representing Coon Rapids Lincoln Mercury, noted that the audit bureau also had verified the circulation figures at those papers.

    "That sort of speaks volumes to me," Baill said.

    That's an interesting point. Anyone know what happened to the Chicago and Dallas papers which admitted tinkering with their numbers?
  3. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    The Morning News punished the advertising people responsible for cooking the circulation numbers by cutting dozens of jobs in the newsroom.
  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Well said
  5. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    In fairness, a few heads rolled on the 13th floor (circulation), too. But not nearly enough.
  6. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Newsday also.
  7. Monday Morning Sportswriter

    Monday Morning Sportswriter Well-Known Member

    I think you're punished with a 10 percent cut in your official circulation numbers, as silly as that sounds. If your circ is 300,000, it goes on paper as 270,000. That's a heck of a penalty.

    My last paper inflated circulation on its rate card but not via ABC. I heard rumblings that some advertisers were working on a suit but I don't think anything came out of that.
  8. The Dallas Morning News got tough about the circulation inflation by firing 100 staffers, mostly newsroom types. And they set up the circ exec with a job running the paper in Victoria, Texas, for graciously falling on his sword and not taking any of his bosses down with him.
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    This is why Sid Hartman shills for Sun Airlines. He knows he'll need the money when Strib cash boat sinks.
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