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ABC announces ‘milestone’ changes to auditing rules for newspaper sales

Australia’s Audit Bureau of Circulations has announced changes to the rules for auditing newspaper sales, after months of uncertainty and conflict over what can be counted as a paid sale. Chairman Dr Stephen Hollings called the changes a “milestone” in the ABC’s history.

A key change in the new rule book, the ABC says, is that metropolitan and regional dailies can now report their sales more frequently.

Day-of-week sales data for Monday through to Friday will be standard. Previously, the ABC reported only three figures in a week of sales: Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The new rule will be apply from December 30.

The ABC is also introducing voluntary reporting for special issues, such as coverage of the floods or the Royal wedding.

A key area of contention – educational sales – will see the the category broken into sub-categories: school sales and tertiary education subscription sales.

“It’s been difficult to deliver subscriptions to students on campus,” said Paul Dovas, ABC’s CEO. “Each institution has its own system.”

Accommodation and airline sales have been separated into two categories – accommodation and hotels, and airline sales.

““There has been a lot of confusion in the market, and although most people were abiding by the rules, it was evident that we needed to bring greater clarity to this area of the rules and our reporting. This included toughening up the audit process,” said Dovas.

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Other changes are that the multiple publication sales category has been incorporated into bundled sales, a category introduced in 2009. The sub-committee considered that multiple publication sales were simply another form of bundled sale.

Finally, the event sales category has  been increased from a maximum of 1% of average net paid sales to 2%.

Further “structural changes” to the rule book will be introduced over the next 6 months, including new rules for digital, Dovas added.

“Our publisher members have always shown their belief in accountability and these rule changes represent a commitment to increasing the transparency and granularity of their reporting,” Hollings said in a statement.

The review was overseen by the Media Federation of Australia and the Australian Association of National Advertisers, along with magazine and newspaper publishers.

The ABC’s rules were last reviewed in 2006.

 

 

 

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