ABC forces NatMags to restate circulation figures

The National Magazine Company has infringed strict Audit Bureau of Circulations rules on bulk copies, forcing ABC to reissue statements of circulation for nine key titles.

This comes after Emap Consumer Media ran into similar problems last October and has led to calls for ABC to simplify its rules and move to reporting magazine circulation on a monthly basis.

Almost 100,000 monthly sales have been removed from NatMags' ABC statements for the January to June period of 2002, a total of 564,000 across six months.

NatMags went through an unsuccessful three-month appeal process against the reissue, which has seen House Beautiful drop 15,834 sales (7.7 per cent). She has dropped 10,000 (5.2 per cent), Esquire 5,833 (9.4 per cent), Prima 24,717 (6.7 per cent), Prima Baby 6,980 (11.4 per cent) and Zest 11,667 (4.8 per cent). Best, Good Housekeeping and Your Home were also affected by the reissue.

ABC made the changes because bulk copies distributed in promotions with national and regional newspapers did not meet guidelines. NatMags did not receive payment, nor were the free copies part of regular monthly promotions, the ABC ruled.

Duncan Edwards, the managing director of NatMags, said: "I think that the rules are both complex and unclear. We are not ashamed with anything we've done, we acted in good faith."

Paul Thomas, a managing partner at MindShare, said: "We tend to take bulks out when we negotiate but what this whole thing justifies is that we should have monthly circulation figures. The guys who don't want it are the ones who have huge variables built in from month to month."

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