ABC Hires, Fires Up New Rules

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By: Jennifer Saba

One hopes that the board members of the Audit Bureau of Circulations enjoyed their meeting this summer more than they did last July, when it took place in the wake of several circulation scandals. At the very least, the tropical locale of Bermuda served for a brighter setting. This year, board members put the finishing touches on new rules and regulations developed in 2004 and the first half of 2005 in response to fallout from circulation fraud.

ABC is also adding more bodies to its pool of auditors ? roughly 20 to 26 new hires to its current staff of 130. The bureau said in a statement that its 2006 budget does not include a rate increase.

The board also finished up its prototype for day-of-week reporting, a new standard required of all publishers that will change the look and feel of circulation reports. Instead of weekly averages, circulation will be broken out by each day of the week. Averages will be permitted, but this new method gives the reports a consistency that was lacking in the past. The new format is phased-in according to a newspaper’s audit schedule, and includes “core newspaper and replica electronic editions, non-replica electronic editions and unique editions.”

Another item on the agenda: the verification of inserts. ABC is treading carefully around this controversial new offering which aims to authenticate the number of free standing inserts running in the papers. The organization asked for volunteers to participate last spring. According to the board, the bureau has “approved the creation of an audit service to address the verification of insert delivery,” with anticipated availability projected for early 2006.

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