ABC modifies rules, elects new officers

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At its latest board meeting, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) modified some reporting rules and elected new board officers.

One of the proposed changes would require US newspapers to report subscriptions sold above and below 25% of standard price if more than 5% of its paid subscriptions sell for below standard price. This change, still pending approval, would take effect in April. The board also approved a rule that would allow Canadian newspapers with total paid average circulation between 50,000 and 75,000 to be audited every other year and is considering a similar rule for US newspapers.

“Many newspapers and their advertisers are under increasing economic pressure,” Merle Davidson, newly elected chairman of ABC's board and director of media services at JC Penney Co., said in a statement. “The ABC board is finalizing the implementation of a broad set of sweeping rule changes that will help to lower costs, streamline audits, better define circulation categories, and provide greater pricing and marketing flexibility for publishers.”

In a move designed to simplify the reporting process, the board opted to eliminate the Consolidated Media Report in July 2009, in favor of a new multimedia report that was approved at a previous meeting. The new report format puts Web site traffic, e-newsletter activity and pass-along data in the first paragraph of publishers' ABC reports. Starting in December, publishers will also be able to report total gross contacts on their statements.

Joining Davidson on the new board were Charles Rutman, CEO, MPG; David Leckey, EVP of consumer marketing, American Media Inc.; Brian Segal, president and CEO, Rogers Publishing; and Craig Sinclair, VP of advertising, Walgreen Co — all slated as Vice-Chairs. Vikki Schwartzmann, VP, corporate media director, L'Oreal USA, was named secretary of the board, and Dennis Skulsky, publisher, CEO of publishing for Canwest, was elected treasurer.

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