ABC modifies Canadian newspaper rules

A broad set of rule changes aims to lower costs, streamline audits and better define circulation categories.

With newspapers and advertisers under increasing economic pressure, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) is finalizing the implementation of a broad set of rule changes that will help to lower costs, streamline audits, better define circulation categories and provide greater pricing and marketing flexibility for publishers, according to ABC’s newly elected board chairman, Merle Davidson.

At a recent meeting in New York, held in conjunction with the organization’s 94th annual conference, the board gave final approval to a new rule that allows Canadian newspapers with total average paid circulation between 50,000 and 75,000 to be audited every other year, beginning in April 2009. It also agreed to modify the rule governing how newspapers report sales by price categories. The board also agreed that publishers can include a ‘total gross contacts’ figure to the integrated report beginning with December 2008 statements. The board voted to discontinue plans to require newspapers to report an average price.

Other key elements include a new multimedia report format for business publications that allows publishers to report website traffic, e-newsletter activity and pass-along receivership data. To prevent market confusion, the Consolidated Media Report will be eliminated in July 2009.

The board also agreed that business publications are no longer required to send an e-mail to paid digital-edition subscribers notifying them that the latest issue is available. For nonpaid subscribers, the e-mail notification is still required.

The board took no actions that affected consumer magazines at this meeting.

Among board officers elected at the meeting were Brian Segal, president and CEO of Rogers Publishing, Rogers Media, as vice-chair, and Dennis Skulsky, president and CEO of Canwest Publishing, as treasurer.

ABC, with nearly 4,000 members across North America (consisting of magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and agencies) maintains the world’s foremost online database of audited-circulation information and a growing array of readership, audience and website usage data.

For a complete summary of board actions, visit