ABC considers figures overhaul

LONDON - Newspapers and magazines will be challenged to implement major changes to the way they report audience figures in a new report commissioned by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Douglas McArthur, the former chief executive of the Radio Advertising Bureau, has been working on the consultancy project and unveiled his findings this week at meetings with the Periodical Publishers Association, the Newspaper Publishers Association and ISBA.

His proposals include making daily circulation figures available for newspapers, and magazines moving to monthly reporting of audience data.

Newspaper circulations are currently reported monthly, and magazines every six months. McArthur's report will be discussed at an ABC Council meeting on 28 June before being made public.

The report has been compiled for the ABC chief executive, Chris Boyd, and the council following talks with media agencies, media owners and advertisers.

Media agency sources suggest McArthur has described the print industry as being "stuck in the last century" in terms of transparency and frequency of circulation data.

However, agencies pushing for change could be disappointed, because the report will merely form the basis of talks among ABC stakeholders that could continue for months. The council is made up of members with different interests and includes representatives from newspapers, magazines and agencies. In the past, media owners on the council have been strongly opposed to changes to reporting frequency.

Agencies are also concerned that the issue of freesheet circulation be discussed further.

McArthur declined to comment on the report.