Allegations that two major LGBTI publishers, Sydney-based Evolution Publishing and Queensland’s QNews, may have misled advertisers by regularly inflating their distribution figures by up to 300 percent have led to an investigation by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The allegations, reported in the Australian newspaper on Monday, involve Brisbane-based QNews published by Ray Mackereth, and Queensland Pride, which was published at the time of the allegations by Evolution Publishing.
Many LGBTI community groups and charities regularly advertise in former Evolution Publishing mastheads and QNews. Advertising costs are commonly determined based on audience size, which is directly related to the number of newspapers printed and distributed.
Evolution Publishing, which produced Queensland Pride, Sydney’s SX and Melbourne Community Voice (MCV) among other publications, went into liquidation in April 2013.
A new company, Evo Media, was launched in early 2013 with largely the same staff and took over the operations of the Evolution Publishing newspapers.
In August 2013, BRI Ferrier, the liquidator for Evolution Publishing, reported to creditors that the reason for the failure of Evolution Publishing was “poor financial record keeping, transfer of company assets to a related entity, and failure to satisfy taxation and superannuation liabilities”.
BRI Ferrier reported that Evolution Publishing had unpaid debts to unsecured creditors of $1.8 million, and that it had notified ASIC that current Evo Media owner Dean Bell was a shadow director of Evolution Publishing, and “sought ASIC’s assistance” to gain access to MYOB files relating to Evolution Publishing.
The owners and editors of Evolution and QNews were contacted for comment but failed to reply by time of publication.