A row is looming among top publishing houses over the Audit Bureau of
Circulations’ plans to change its auditing procedures for consumer
magazines next year.
At a meeting last week, the ABC council set up a task force of consumer
magazine representatives charged with agreeing the changes.
However, the decision looks likely to split the industry. While IPC
Magazines feels strongly that an overhaul of the existing system should
go ahead, Emap and Conde Nast are understood to be against any change.
The proposed changes involve harmonising auditing methods for all
consumer magazines and highlighting when titles have deviated more than
20 per cent from their average circulation.
Currently, there are two methods for auditing the two categories of
consumer magazines - general and specialist. The different procedures
have grown out of the different nature of the titles. The plan is to try
to thrash out a system to merge methodology for the two sections.
Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Conde Nast, said: ‘I’m
sceptical whether it’s a good idea to keep adding layers of rules. It’s
the old civil service disease. I, and most publishers, have better
things to do than keep funding ever-increasing bureaucracies.’
Tom Moloney, chief executive of Emap Magazines, said: ‘It’s important
that the ABC responds to the needs of the market. However, over the past
two or three years, there have been a lot of changes to ABC methodology,
such as the inclusion of bulk sales, and I don’t think the industry has
fully understood them. Before we make any more, we need to assess how
the changes so far affect the industry.’