Board Actions

Summary of November 2010 U.S. Board Actions

November 16, 2010

Arlington Heights, Ill. (Nov. 16, 2010)—The following are highlights of the actions taken by the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ (ABC) board of directors at its meeting held on November 10-12. (Note: The full update to ABC’s bylaws and rules is regularly made available on ABC’s website within weeks following each board meeting.)

Business Publications

Consumer Magazines


Other Developments


Qualified Paid Circulation Report Format Eliminated
Final Passage – Effective Nov. 15, 2010, for December 2010 Statements
ABC business publication members currently use two report formats: qualified paid circulation (blue), and qualified paid and/or qualified nonpaid circulation (ivory). The format and data requirements in each report are identical, with the exception of the nonpaid circulation.

Because the majority of ABC business publication members now use the qualified paid and/or qualified nonpaid circulation report (ivory), the board gave final approval to eliminate the qualified paid report.

To accomplish this, the board agreed to modify the following rules: Bylaw 2.2 Eligibility for Membership, Rule D 4.1 Publisher’s Statements, Rule D 5.1 Geographic Analysis, Rule D 5.2 Business Analysis, Rule D 5.3 Age of Source, Rule D 11.1 Additions and Removals.


Task Force Continues Work Evaluating New and Future Publishing Platforms
For Information
The ABC board received an update from a consumer magazine task force that is exploring new and future publishing platforms and how to best incorporate those distribution channels on ABC reports. At its most recent meeting, the task force established several guiding principles, including:

  • Reporting and verification of a publication’s distribution is important, regardless of platform.
  • Reporting of distribution and payment amount by digital platform are key metrics as digital circulation continues to grow.
  • ABC data should include gross delivery as well as net unduplicated subscribers for all distribution platforms.
  • Bundled sales—grouping multiple products together in an offer for a single price—are a growing trend and should be monitored.
  • Website traffic metrics for digital delivery are valuable and should be included on ABC reports.
  • Transparency is vital in all areas of ABC’s reporting.
  • Publisher’s Statements should include the publication’s nonreplica digital apps and other print editions of the magazine.
  • Print and digital data needs to be reported to the marketplace quickly.


ABC Board Passes New Standards for Membership Eligibility
First Passage
At its July meeting, the ABC board initiated an advisory vote of U.S. and Canadian newspaper members to solicit responses to two membership eligibility changes.

The first change only affects U.S. daily newspapers and asked for members’ opinion on calculating the 70 percent paid circulation eligibility based only on the member newspaper’s circulation, exclusive of any branded editions. The board further proposed that the total circulation of the member newspaper, including branded editions, be predominantly paid or home delivered.

The second part of the vote affects both U.S. and Canadian newspapers and sought member input on lowering the 70 percent paid threshold to 50 percent paid for weekly newspapers.

Both items presented in the advisory vote received overwhelming approval from ABC’s membership, with 96 percent voting in favor of both proposals. Given the outcome of the advisory vote, the ABC board of directors agreed to move forward with modifying Bylaw 2.2 Eligibility for Membership, 2.11 Paid Circulation Defined and 2.13 Provisional Membership to incorporate the new standards. Final approval is expected in March 2011.

Rules Surrounding Hybrid and Bundled Subscriptions Finalized
Final Passage – Effective Oct. 1, 2011
The ABC board finalized the rules surrounding hybrid and bundled subscriptions for U.S. newspapers originally given first passage in July, with a few modifications.

The first notable change is that the effective date was advanced to Oct. 1, 2011, from the previously announced Oct. 1, 2010, date.

The second revision is to the fulfillment requirements, including changes to the timeline.

Beginning Oct. 1, 2011, all digital hybrid and bundled subscriptions where the newspaper does not receive at least an additional five percent for each product in the offer will need to comply with the register, activate and fulfill model.

As previously stated, the definitions for register, activate and fulfill are:

  • Register and Activate (Verified Circulation)
    To qualify as verified circulation, subscribers are required to register and activate the digital edition components of their subscriptions. This circulation will qualify as “verified” on ABC reports. For example, a subscriber would need to register and create an account on the newspaper’s website to qualify the digital edition as verified circulation. Similar measures would need to be taken for mobile apps and e-reader editions.

  • Register, Activate and Fulfill (Paid Circulation)
    To qualify as paid circulation, the rules go further to require that a subscriber’s digital edition must also be fulfilled, i.e., opened or accessed, if a newspaper wishes to claim that circulation paid on ABC reports.

The new fulfillment requirements are:

  • First or Primary Digital Platform (Bundled and Hybrid) – The subscriber must register, activate and access the copy before it can be counted as paid circulation. Subsequently, the digital edition must be accessed at least once per month to continue qualifying as paid.
  • Second Digital Platform (Bundled) – The subscriber must register, activate and access the second copy and then continue to access it at least once per week to qualify as paid.
  • Third and Any Other Subsequent Digital Platforms (Bundled) –The subscriber must register, activate and access the third and any subsequent copies and continue to access them at least once per day to qualify them as paid.

Those copies that do not meet the above definitions of fulfillment may qualify to be reported as verified.

The changes to the implementation date and fulfillment criteria are the only revisions to the rule passed in July. The board voted to maintain its previously approved standard that requires newspapers to collect at least 5 percent for the digital component of a hybrid or bundled subscription to avoid the register, activate and fulfill model.

New “Net Subscribers” Line Added to U.S. Newspaper Reports
For Information – Effective for March 2012 Reports
The board also agreed to modify ABC Audit Reports, Publisher’s Statements and FAS-FAX reports to include a new “net subscribers” metric that reflects the number of unduplicated subscribers across the print newspaper and its digital editions.

ABC Board Reviews Branded Edition Requirements, Including Opt-In Programs
Unanimous Consent – Effective Nov. 15, 2010
At its interim meeting in September, the Newspaper Committee of the ABC board further outlined the qualifications for U.S. newspaper branded editions. At the November meeting, the ABC board noted its agreement with those qualifications and also confirmed that branded editions must include editorial content.

The board made one exception to the editorial content rule. If the branded edition is an opt-in publication, such as Sunday Select or other similar programs, it does not need to include any editorial content.

To read more about the requirements of branded editions, review Rule C 2.4 Separate Editions on ABC’s website.

ABC directors encouraged U.S newspapers to use ABC’s Consolidated Media Report to further itemize any products that do not qualify as branded editions but are of value to a newspaper’s overall media footprint.

March and September 2011 FAS-FAX Prototypes Now Available
For Information – Effective for March 2011 Reports
Due to the significant rule and reporting changes that will impact newspapers’ March and September 2011 data, the board agreed that ABC will not make direct comparisons of newspapers’ 2011 and 2010 data in the FAS-FAX report. Instead, the data will be presented in two different sections. The first section will include current circulation and the second will include the prior year’s data. Direct comparisons will resume in the March 2012 FAS-FAX report. A prototype of the March and September 2011 FAS-FAX report is available on ABC’s website.


New U.S. and Canadian Directors Elected to North American Board
For Information
The following new directors were elected to ABC’s North American board:

  • Ted Boyd, CEO, 58Ninety Inc., representing Canadian advertising agencies.
  • Linda Brennan, vice president of operations, McGraw-Hill Construction, representing U.S. business publications.
  • Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO, The Globe and Mail, representing Canadian newspapers.
  • Christopher Daly, vice president of media-print/outdoor, Macy’s Inc., representing U.S. advertisers.
  • Gordon Fisher, president, National Post, executive vice president, eastern Canada, Postmedia Network Inc., representing Canadian newspapers.
  • Scott Kruse, managing director, director of print, GroupM, representing U.S. advertising agencies.
  • John McCarthy, senior vice president, circulation and online operations, Rodale Inc., representing U.S. consumer magazines.
  • David Murphy, CEO, Novus Media Inc., representing U.S. advertising agencies.
  • David K. Ronk II, vice president, retail marketing, Chase, representing U.S. advertisers.

Additional Directors Re-Elected and Slate of Board Officers Announced
For Information
The following individuals were elected to the North American ABC board of directors:

U.S. Advertiser Division

  • Ed Cicale, AutoNation Inc.
  • Merle Davidson, JCPenney Co. Inc.
  • Bill Stabile, Siemens Corporation

U.S. Advertising Agency Division

  • Charlie Rutman, MPG
  • Suzanne Silber, Optimedia
  • Dave Walker, NSA Media and Geomentum

Canadian Advertising Agency

  • Sunni Boot, ZenithOptimedia Canada Inc.
  • Lorraine Hughes, OMD Canada
  • Shelagh Stoneham, Rogers Communications Inc.

U.S. Business Publication Division

  • Rob Fisher, American City Business Journals

U.S. Consumer Magazine Division

  • John Q. Griffin, National Geographic Society
  • David Leckey, American Media Inc.

U.S. Newspaper Division

  • Caroline Diamond Harrison, Staten Island Advance
  • Scott Heekin-Canedy, The New York Times
  • Todd Larsen, Dow Jones & Company

ABC Board Officers (one-year term):
Chairman – Merle K. Davidson, JC Penney Co. Inc.
Vice Chair – Sunni Boot, ZenithOptimedia Canada Inc.
Vice Chair – David W. Leckey, American Media Inc.
Vice Chair – Christina Meringolo, Merck Consumer Care
Vice Chair – David S. Walker, NSA and Geomentum
Secretary – Rob Fisher, American City Business Journals
Treasurer – Brian Segal, Rogers Publishing