An internal audit which found Straits Times circulation figures had been inflated has led to a review of processes and “several senior employees” being “taken to task or left the company”.
Announcing the audit outcome, a spokesman for SPH Media did not name employees concerned. The review of internal processes in March last year included circulation data reporting, and found “some inconsistencies”.
These resulted in a discrepancy of 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 spokesman added.
SPH Media cited several examples of these inconsistencies, including that lapsed contracts continued to be counted into circulation data. There were also copies that were printed, counted for circulation and then destroyed; as well as double-counting of subscriptions across multiple instances.
The spokeperson added that a project account had been injected with funding over a period of time “to purchase fictitious circulation”. “Certain circulation numbers were arbitrarily derived,” she added.
SPH transferred its media business to a company limited by guarantee in September 2021 to help secure funding from public and private sources. Following the move, it was announced that SPH Media would get government funding of up to $180 million annually over the next five years.