Newspapers hit by ABC changes

New rules governing how newspapers calculate their circulation figures are likely to have a significant impact on the sales figures of some national newspapers.

New rules governing how newspapers calculate their circulation

figures are likely to have a significant impact on the sales figures of

some national newspapers.



The reforms, announced this week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations,

aim to restore the industry’s confidence in audited data for national

newspapers. The rules will be applied to the next set of ABCs.



The most significant changes are designed to tighten the rules allowing

publishers to exclude certain issues from ABC calculations, bring

clarity to the definitions of ’full’ and ’lesser rate’ sales and to

resolve the recurring disputes about bulk copies.



The rules governing exclusion issues are being seen by the newspaper

industry as the most critical.



Under the old guidelines, newspaper publishers needed only a 1 per cent

difference in circulation and a ’good reason’, such as printing

problems, to exclude a particular day’s sale from its average monthly

sale figure.



The practice had been open to abuse with days being excluded purely

because sales were poor. Under the new rules publishers need to show a

circulation change of 10 per cent before an issue can be excluded.



Laura James, the media director at New PHD, said: ’It means the data

will be more reliable and I think we will see a larger decline in

certain titles. I think this is a step in the right direction. The

question I would like to ask is: Can we have this information on a daily

basis?’



The issue of bulk rate sales is one that has plagued the industry for

years, with certain publishers accusing others of using the bulks

category to cover the dumping of issues.



The changes mean that bulk copies supplied to hotels, airlines and

supermarkets must be backed up by signed agreements and proof of

delivery.



Clarity also comes to lesser rate sales. Issues that are discounted on a

one-off promotional basis will in future count as lesser rate sales.



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