Senior SPH staff taken to task after inflating circulation figures by 10-12%: report

It receives public funding of up to $180 million annually over five years

SPH Media's News Centre.
SPH Media's News Centre. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Several senior employees of SPH Media have been taken to task or left the company, after daily circulation figures of the media giant's titles were found to have been inflated.

According to The Straits Times, the numbers were inflated by between 85,000 and 95,000 daily average copies across all titles, which represents 10 to 12 per cent of the reported daily average circulation.

The senior employees were not named in the news report.

An SPH spokesperson said that some of the methods they used to inflate the circulation figures include "double-counting" of subscriptions across multiple instances; lapsed contracts continuing to be counted into circulation data; instances where copies were printed, counted for circulation and then destroyed; and a project account that was injected with additional funding to purchase "fictitious circulation".

Circulation figures are an important benchmark for setting the price of advertising in the media industry.

Ministry has asked SPH Media to share full findings

SPH Media became a company limited by guarantee in December 2021, after it split from the Singapore Press Holdings. As a trust, it receives public funding of up to $180 million annually over five years, and it will be required to provide half-yearly progress updates to the Singapore government.

Today Online reported a Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) spokesperson saying that it has asked SPH Media to share its full findings, and has recently received SPH Media's internal report on the matter.

"MCI will undertake our own review to determine if these inconsistencies in circulation data affect the decision to fund, and the amount the government committed to fund SPH Media,” the MCI spokesperson said.

According to The Straits Times, SPH Media had initiated a review of internal processes in March last year. The period of review was from September 2020 to March 2022.

SPH Media publishes The Straits Times and The Business Times, as well as Lianhe Zaobao, Shin Min Daily News, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu.

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