ABC Releases Rule Changes, Announces New Directors

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By: E&P Staff

The Audit Bureau of Circulations today released new changes and actions approved by its board of directors during its meeting in Toronto on Nov. 10-13.

The following additions to the Board of Directors were also announced: Scott Heekin-Canedy, president and general manager, The New York Times (replacing Janet Robinson, The New York Times); Howard G. Sutton, publisher, Providence (R.I.) Journal (replacing Mark Newhouse, The Star-Ledger); David S. Walker, president of business & strategic development, Newspaper Services of America (replacing Scott Harding, Newspaper Services of America)

Below is the list of rule changes pertaining to newspapers per an ABC statement issued today.


Effective January 1, 2005

Rule C 5.25 was adopted to ensure that newspapers electing to claim, as paid circulation, copies of newspapers sold through hawkers, maintain a reporting environment that will accurately determine sales from hawkers and support an ABC audit. Additionally, record keeping requirements to support hawker sales include, but are not limited to: contemporaneous daily records by hawker location, identifying draw, returns, selling times, compensation and cash collections. The application of these records will become mandatory effective January 1, 2005. (See page # 82 of the Bylaws and Rules for specific record requirements.)

Reader/Subscriber profile
Unanimous Consent
Effective immediately

The standard minimum Reader Profile report was expanded to include:

? An “Average Frequency” estimate (M-F, Sun), Gross Rating Point estimate (M-F, Sun) and re-label the existing estimate “Percent of Adult Coverage” to “Reach (18+).”

? Eliminated potential issues with the existing standards of not requiring reporting readership by category (subscribers, single-copy, pass-along/other) when the 100 minimum has been achieved

? Standardized the data longevity for all newspapers above 25,000 average paid circulation at 24 months beginning with the conclusion of research fieldwork. Additionally all studies fielded after April 11, 2005 will be required to have 500 completed interviews regardless of size.

? Modify existing response breaks and reporting requirements for children to under 6, 6-11 and 12-17 for all studies.

? Modified the minimum responses for primary residence to “rent” or “own”.

Censure Business Rules

The Board approved a number of operating policies as regards the implementation of censure and related sanctions. To include: The application of censure will be reserved for action by the ABC Board. Therefore, the Board will consider these matters at each of its meetings on the basis of the merits of the issues and circumstances. Newspapers with circulations of less than 25,000 will be considered using a “two consecutive audit findings greater than 5%” approach similar to the application of audit results for periodicals.

Censure investigations will also be triggered when audit adjustments are greater than 5% for two consecutive audits on the basis of all issues for periodicals not singular issues. For newspapers, censure will be triggered using a 5-day weekly average. Adjustments for Saturday and Sunday will be the only individual day applications of censure for newspapers.

All Publications

The Board approved publicity of exception requests to ABC rules to be posted on the ABC web site, Details with respect to requests that have not been granted will not appear, however the number of requests considered will be listed. Information on granted exceptions will be noted.

ABC also announced a cooperative membership agreement with the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA). In this era of greater demand for accountability from the media by advertisers, an ABC/ACA partnership sends a collaborative message to the publishing industry that major Canadian advertisers endorse third party auditing of circulation claims and strongly encourage all publications to be audited.

Additionally the development of a delinquent audit listing was discussed. This list would appear on the web site and would list delinquent audits and the reason for their tardiness.

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