ABC Board Gives Initial Approval to U.S. Newspaper Rule Changes and Implementation Timeline

    Establishes Guidelines for Magazine Rapid Report Filing, Elects New

    SCHAUMBURG, Ill., March 18 /CNW/ -- The board of the Audit Bureau of
Circulations (ABC) gave its initial approval to a broad set of strategic rule
modifications for U.S. newspapers. The changes will provide important data to
advertisers, while more clearly defining paid circulation and creating a new
"verified" reporting category for other circulation channels. They are also
intended to simplify ABC rules, reduce certain audit costs and provide greater
pricing and marketing flexibility for publishers.

    Some rule modifications will take effect April 1, 2009, with the balance
implemented Oct. 1, 2010. The ABC board is expected to give final approval to
these rule changes at its July 2008 meeting, following development of specific
rule language and review by its members. ABC will consider the application of
these changes for the Canadian newspaper market after further input from its
Canadian members.

    The U.S. rule modifications that will take effect April 1, 2009, include:
    -- Ease certain reporting requirements for mid-size newspapers.
Currently, newspapers with average paid circulation of less than 25,000 are
not required to be audited annually nor report averages for each day of the
week, if published daily. This threshold will be raised to 50,000.
    -- Implement a flexible pricing model where newspapers will be considered
"paid" by ABC regardless of the price for which a copy is sold. This will
bring ABC's U.S. newspaper division in line with current practices in its
periodical divisions, as well as with price qualification standards in the
Canadian newspaper market.
    -- Allow newspapers to convert current home subscribers to a greater
frequency, provided the subscriber can opt out of the program, the new
frequency is delivered for a minimum of 12 weeks and advertisers are notified
of such programs at least 120 days in advance.
    -- Begin phasing out intermittent subscriptions from average paid
circulation. In 2009 a maximum of 50 intermittent days may be claimed. In 2010
the maximum drops to 25 days, with all intermittent subscriptions to be
reported as "verified" circulation beginning in 2011.

    The following U.S. rule modifications will take effect Oct. 1, 2010:
    -- Revise the definition of paid circulation so that it is more
straightforward, represents payment by an individual reader or specialized
channel and continues to be reported separately on ABC Publisher's Statements
and Audit Reports.
    -- Adopt a paid/verified reporting model where "other paid circulation"
(e.g., copies purchased by sponsors or distributed to schools and newspaper
employees) will be reported as "verified" circulation.
    -- Reclassify copies distributed at hotels and subscriptions purchased by
businesses for designated employees to a new paid-circulation category,

    "The amendments to ABC's U.S. newspaper qualification and reporting
standards reflect the valuable input of all our constituents, many of whom
have participated in various committees and task forces that began this
process in 2006," noted Donald J. Miceli, vice president of global media
resources at Kraft Foods and ABC's chairman of the board. "Our goal is to
clearly define important measurement standards, streamline the audit process
and provide advertisers and publishers with the framework required for today's
marketplace. These important modifications will help us achieve those

    ABC has created a new section of its Web site at where, in the coming weeks, newspaper
members will be able to review specific rule language, an implementation
timeline, FAQs, webinars and a prototype Publisher's Statement.

    Rapid Report Guidelines Established

    The ABC board also unanimously endorsed a set of initial-posting
guidelines to assist consumer magazines in the timely filing of circulation
via ABC's Rapid Report online tool. The guidelines call for publishers of
weekly magazines to post initial per-issue projections no later than three
weeks after the on-sale date. Monthly magazine data should be filed no later
than seven weeks after going on sale.

    ABC's Rapid Report was introduced in 2006. Nearly two-thirds of the top
100 consumer magazines in the U.S. are now actively using the tool to provide
topline information on subscription and newsstand sales for each issue
published in the current ABC reporting period.

    "These initial-posting guidelines are an important step forward for print
media," said Robin Steinberg, senior vice president, director of print
investment and activation at MediaVest USA. "As buyers, we recognize that this
data is an estimate posting or early glimpse of a publication's circulation,
not the final audit. This gives us the ability to ask the right questions of
our partners. The timely availability of this information is vital as we
compare print with the myriad of other media options in today's changing

    Newspaper Preprint Tool Launched

    The ABC board also approved the launch of a new online tool to help
newspapers and their advertisers better plan for preprinted insert ad
production requirements. The new Preprint Projection Center allows newspapers
to provide confidential distribution forecasts to help their advertisers
better gauge printing and production requirements months in advance. The tool
enhances productivity by eliminating the need for newspapers to contact
multiple advertisers individually to update them with preprint quantities,
zones, dates and distribution information.

    The Preprint Projection Center launches April 1 and is free for ABC

    New Directors Elected

    The ABC board elected four new directors at its recent meeting: 
Christopher Black, divisional vice president, media, Sears Holdings Corp.;
Sunni Boot, president and CEO, ZenithOptimedia Canada Inc.; Caroline Diamond
Harrison, publisher, Staten Island Advance; and Christina Meringolo, director
of media and PR services, Schering-Plough.

    The ABC board of directors meeting was held March 12-14 at Kiawah Island,
S.C. For a complete summary of board actions, visit ABC's Web site at ABC members are invited to attend a
webinar on March 19 recapping important board actions and rule changes. The
online session for ABC newspaper members begins at 11:00 ET, while the session
for magazine members begins at 2:00 ET. The cost is $39. Interested attendees
can register on the ABC Web site at

    With more than 4,000 members in North America, ABC is a forum of the
world's leading magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and advertising
agencies. The organization provides credible, verified information essential
to the media buying and selling process. ABC maintains the world's foremost
online database of audited-circulation information and a growing array of
readership, audience and Web site usage data. To learn more, visit

For further information:

For further information: Kammi Altig, +1-847-879-8232,, or Laina Krisik, +1-847-879-8432,, both of ABC Web Site:

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