BPA Rule Changes
At its meeting May 24, 2007, the BPA Worldwide Board of Directors approved rule changes that include such things as the pre-populating of free online subscription forms; membership benefit source rules; penalties for filing incorrect circulation statement claims; non-qualified digital copies; and new quality standards for Associate Members.
Some of the rulings, for example, the number of consecutive issues that must be served to qualify (or verify) a subscription; and the freedom to serve verified circ copies that are not declared on the Publishers Statement;address issues being raised by advertisers to ABC.
Continuous vs. Non-Continuous Circulation
The BPA Board has modified rules regarding continuous/non-continuous circulation. Under the revised rule, for circulation to be identified as "continuous," publications must serve recipients at least three months of uninterrupted service, subject to unsubscribe requests and non-deliverable addresses (Previously, publications with 14 or less issues per year were required to provide six continuous months of service.).
The Board also ruled that up to five percent of total qualified circulation may be served less than three months service without further disclosure; anything over five percent must be reported as non-continuous circulation on a circulation statement or audit report.
Pre-population of Online Forms
Publishers may now pre-populate the "yes" category of a free online subscription form after an individual has taken an affirmative action to subscribe on a previous web page or web link. (Prior to this, publishers were not allowed to pre-populate the yes/no option of an online form.)
Membership Benefit Source
Non-paid subscriptions can only be reported as a benefit of membership if the association passes a board resolution stating the publication is a benefit of membership. The association does not need to own the publication. Subscriptions that are purchased by an association for its members shall not be reported as a benefit of membership, but rather as sponsored sales.
Last, deductible and non-deductible membership benefit subscriptions need not be for an "official" publication of the association. The rule change marks a BPA departure from current USPS rules. As a result, publishers with a significant amount of Membership Benefit sources should check with the USPS to ensure their membership benefit subscriptions meet periodical rate criteria.
Non-Qualified Digital Copies
Effective with the June 2007 audit cycle, publishers may begin reporting digital non-qualified advertiser and agency copies and non-qualified paid digital copies (excluding sponsored copies) together with print copies in the same category on circulation statements and audit reports. No other non-qualified digital publication copies may be reported.
Other Noteworthy Changes
Publishers with three years of audit reports requiring adjustment will be subject to a pre-audit process before any circulation statements will be released.
BPA has announced a new service, a Distribution Audit, to verify distribution for non-editorial media such as product listings, wall media, coupon publications and card decks.
BPA offers an Associate Member class for suppliers to the industry. The guidelines will require new Associate Members to provide references of at least three quality BPA experiences before they are accepted into membership.