Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Catholic Times Paper Scam?
I am not really into the ways of the world, and certainly not of the newspaper industry but after having received a rather curt dismissive note from the editor of the Catholic Times, Mr Kevin Flaherty, I thought I would look at the numbers of his newspapers which we sold here, actually it is 1 or 2 or sometimes no copies a week, yet Total Catholic Publications send us 12 copies every week leaving us with 10 or 11 or even 12 copies, as for The Universe from the same Total Catholic stable they send us 22 copies of which we sell on average only 4 or 5. This seems to have been going on for years.
The Catholic Herald seems to adjusts its deliveries according to sales, but not the Catholic Times or The Universe, they have been sending us what the choose. We are not charged for unsolds, indeed we are asked to distribute the unsold copies free to the sick, though the last thing the sick want is to read these publications so we normally throw them away which in Green Brighton means we have to pay to get rid of them every few months, but it does mean that Total Catholic could claim every copy sent to a parish is distributed. Does anyone know if they do?
I am forced to ask are these two papers claiming vastly inflated circulation figures in order to attract advertising? The Catholic Times I understand claims a circulation of 20,000 but if you go by my parish's figures the actual paying readership they have would be about 2,000. The Universe claims to be the largest selling Catholic paper in the UK but if the figures are in line with the Catholic Times', one does have to ask if the hard copy circulation is much more than 5 or 6,000.
By accepting much larger numbers of these two papers than are likely to be sold, a priest is complicit in a dreadful waste and an "ecological sin", think of those trees going to waste to produce unwanted newspapers but also parish clergy are actually unwittingly complicit in a possible scam, against unwitting advertisers, who pay for advertising based on wholly inaccurate and inflated circulation figures, if that is so it would be gravely sinful. I am sure this is not the deliberate intention of anyone involved in Total Catholic but is a situation that has simply evolved unnoticed with falling sales figures.
Later today I will ensure there is is no more than a 10% wastage, and I would recommend other priests to do the same and parishioners to question why there might be large quantities of unsold Catholic papers at the backs of their churches.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake