Dated: Wed 18 Feb 1998 From: IDG Communications
Bits and Bytes publisher loses in its attempt to discredit competitor.
Advertising Standards body throws out all allegations of false and misleading advertising.
The Advertising Standards Complaints Board has thrown out every one of a series of allegations of false and misleading advertising made against New Zealand PC World publisher IDG Communications Ltd by rival publisher Industrial Press.
In doing so, it has confirmed that data from the numerous surveys quoted all support IDG's claims of New Zealand PC World's superior readership to IPL title Bits and Bytes.
"It's particularly satisfying that in every single instance the Board upheld IDG's readership claims for New Zealand PC World" says publisher Martin Taylor. "And it's an endorsement of IDG's total professionalism and integrity that it passed with flying colours the Board's scrutiny as it investigated this barrage of vexatious allegations by a competitor," he says.
"IPL attempted to bring IDG into disrepute and lost," Taylor says. "They would serve their customers better by improving their publications than by trying to discredit all research that shows them in a poor light."
Industrial Press Limited (IPL), which produces local computer magazines Bits and Bytes and Netguide, alleged in its complaint that New Zealand PC World was not entitled to use the readership figure of 103,000 derived from the No1 1997 PrintScope survey. AC Nielsen.McNair's PrintScope survey is the industry currency for readership research in New Zealand.
IPL's complaint followed the temporary withdrawal of PC World by researcher AC Nielsen.McNair from the most recent No.2 1997 study. AC Nielsen.McNair had withdrawn PC World because of unreliable data that resulted from a change to the methodology used to measure PC World's readership. IPL alleged that New Zealand PC World's readership in the survey was inflated by title confusion with the readership of the American edition. The US edition has very limited local circulation, representing only 3% of the distribution of PC World in New Zealand.
The Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB) did not support IPL's argument and in its decision fully endorsed IDG's use of this research.
The ASCB Panel ruled that "the results of the (PrintScope Survey) did support the readership claims made in the advertisements." Further, the panel agreed that IDG was entitled to use the 103,000 reader figure as being the latest available and that IDG had represented the results properly and accurately.
The ASCB also threw out several IPL complaints about IDG's use of other research to support its claims of New Zealand PC World's superior readership over IPL titles. IPL had alleged that the survey results and their use in advertising were in breach of the Advertising Codes of Practice, in particular the Codes for Comparitive Advertising and the guidelines for use of Research, Tests and Surveys.
The ASCB agreed that IDG was entitled to use these test results and that they were used correctly. It pointed out that the tests -- which included both subscriber studies and wider surveys of business readership -- were conducted and analysed by Independent bodies and agreed that the test results supported the conclusions regarding PC World's superior readership.
On one matter, the ASCB sided with IPL in agreeing that the tone of one of the advertisements degraded competitors. The Panel's view was that the ad, by its tone and context, impled to readers that "publishers of computer magazines in New Zealand, other than New Zealand PC World, were not to be trusted." While IDG does not agree with this view of the advertisement, it has withdrawn it to comply with the ASCB ruling.
Please contact Martin Taylor if you would like a full copy of the Decision issued by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.