ABC Ponders Changes to Subscription Rules
Reacts to advertising community's ongoing desire for greater accountability.
At its November annual meeting last week, the Audit Bureau of Circulations board of directors continued its conversation about the advertising community’s ongoing desire for greater accountability in the audit reporting process, and granted first passage to the elimination of a rule, disqualifying subscriptions bundled with other goods or services provided by the publisher.
This new move by the board reflects an effort to more clearly define paid circulation, ABC president and managing director Michael Lavery explains in an interview with FOLIO: Alert. Rule D 2.8-which applies only when the purchase of the subscription is not the primary item of purchase and where a refund for the value of the subscription is not available-is similar to a rule proposed in July 2006 to eliminate non-deductible partnerships for consumer magazines.
"The change will help to bring more continuity and harmony in ABC rules across all membership divisions," Lavery says.
But, Lavery notes, the ruling should have little effect on business publication members. "A review of our files indicates that for June 30, 2007-ending Publisher’s Statement, there were no business publications that reported using this type of calculation. Since then, we are aware of only two titles that are using this type of transaction to generate subscriptions."
The board agreed the rule should affect only copies served after December 31, 2008, giving publishers ample notice of the change, Lavery says. In March, the board will meet again and will decide whether it will grant the final passage of the rule.
In other ABC news, the board voted at the annual meeting to modify another rule to increase to four the number of copies allowed to be distributed in hotel guest rooms per issue for magazines published monthly or less frequently. For magazines published more frequently, the maximum remains one copy per issue per room.
The board agreed also to create a new set of standards to govern the distribution of consumer magazines to airlines, allowing publishers to distribute up to two copies per flight, based on a monthly average of flights. The issues can be distributed on board or at limited-access airport clubs.