ABC Sets Vote to Change Newspaper Membership Rules, Freezes Audit Rates for Another Year

By: E&P Staff

Newspaper members of the Audit Board of Circulations will have a chance in November to vote on changing membership eligibility rules that would permit members that publish a substantial number of non-paid papers.

Right now newspapers must have at least 70% of the circulation as paid to be eligible for ABC membership.

Newspaper division members in March narrowly rejected a proposal that would have eliminated the paid circulation requirement altogether. The vote this fall, which would also be non-binding, proposes that the 70% paid requirement would be calculated on the core  newspaper’s circulation, and not included “branded editions,” such as free-distribution commuter dailies or Spanish-language papers. The total circulation of the member newspaper, including branded editions, “must be predominantly paid or home delivered,” the board’s proposal states.

Members will also be asked their views on lowering the 70% paid threshold to 50% paid for weekly newspapers.

At their meeting last weekend, ABC directors also current audit rates and other fees for the next year. ABC has not increased its rates or fees since January 2007.

The board also agreed to expand the number of directors to 38 from 36, with one new seat reserved for Canadian newspapers and the other for North American advertisers or advertising agencies.

The board announced two director appointments: Christopher P. Schembri, vice president of media services, at AT&T represents U.S. advertisers, and Shelagh Stoneham, vice president, brand and marketing communications, for Rogers Communications Inc., represents Canadian advertisers.

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