ABC Strengthens Sponsored Sales Rules for Consumer Magazines
Approves New Formats for Magazine and Newspaper Publisher's Statements, Disqualifies Circulation from EBSCO and InFlight Agent Programs
Schaumburg, Ill. (July 19, 2005) - The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) announced several significant decisions reached during its board of directors meeting held July 13-16, 2005.
Continuing its focus on rules review and revision begun in 2004, the board unanimously voted to strengthen the rules governing how third-party consumer magazine sponsor programs may qualify as paid circulation. Beginning with issues dated January 2006, publishers must receive payment at a qualifying price "net of all other considerations," including agent marketing and distribution fees. The board also narrowed the definition of eligible magazine subscription sponsors by requiring that sponsors sell their products directly to consumers.
The Magazine Committee of ABC also approved a new format for the "pink sheet" Publisher's Statement that reflects recent rule changes and repositions some forms of sponsored subscriptions in a new category. Once finalized, the new Publisher's Statement will include an executive summary of circulation in Paragraph One covering paid, "public place" and designated recipients. The new pink sheet provides advertisers with more detailed data, including profiles by circulation channel and category, and is designed to be easier to read and understand. ABC expects to implement the new pink sheet for the June 2006 Publisher's Statement period.
ABC board member John Squires, president of Sports Illustrated, noted that the new rules related to sponsored magazine circulation and the appropriate enforcement of existing rules will benefit the entire industry. "Many third-party programs, such as those that deliver magazines to public places like medical offices and beauty salons, are highly valued by both advertisers and publishers, whether they are classified as paid or not," Squires said. "The actions taken by the board recognize this, putting the emphasis where it belongs—namely, on the overall quality of a magazine's circulation and audience."