The Audit Bureau of Circulations Council met on Tuesday to draw up
the first set of revisions to ABC national newspaper rules and has
agreed on changes to exclusion days, bulk sales and the tracking of
lesser-rate sales. However, agency demands for greater transparency on
weekday circulation figures have not yet been resolved.
Ray Hall, the chief executive of the ABC, said: ’This is only the
beginning. It is expected that other issues will be debated at future
working party meetings.’
First, exclusion days - when newspapers are allowed to omit certain days
if there has been unusual disruption to distribution - have been
redefined so that newspapers can only omit days if there is a
distribution shortfall of 10 per cent or above. The limit was previously
1 per cent. It is hoped that this will prevent newspaper groups from
abusing the system and using exclusion dates to even out poor
circulation. In the last set of ABCs for December 1997, the Independent
submitted a total of seven exclusion days, compared with four for the
Times and three days each for the other broadsheets.
Second, bulk sales - it has been agreed that newspapers must be willing
to submit bulk contract details to the ABC if they are requested. In the
past, such deals have been submitted on a voluntary basis. Individuals
at client companies will have to take responsibility for contracts to
make bulk auditing easier for the ABC to monitor.
Third, newspapers must now submit an in-depth audit trail on lesser-rate
The review of ABC audit rules began last August following the settlement
of a legal dispute between News International, the Telegraph and the ABC
over circulation figures.