The Audit Bureau of Circulations has approved a wide-ranging series of revisions to rules governing how newspaper publishers measure and report circulation to the ABC.
The changes are intended to simplify the process for newspapers and allow them to take credit for readers using different platforms, including print, online and mobile channels. The ABC board also agreed to freeze audit fees for 2010, in a move intended to lessen financial pressure during a tentative recovery.
Among the revisions approved by the ABC board and announced on Tuesday, newspapers with "branded" editions -- including free commuter dailies which condense the regular paper, and Spanish-language publications -- are now permitted to count these editions as part of their total average circulation.
The ABC rule changes also allow newspapers to count readers who maintain separate subscriptions to newspapers for print, mobile and e-reader editions multiple times in different categories, provided they pay for each separate subscription.
These new categories are detailed in a new ABC "Publisher's Statement" that will be available in October, with a front page covering average paid and verified circulation and "Audience-FAX" readers, and subsequent pages detailing circulation for core print newspaper readership. Various digital editions include e-reader and mobile delivery and the "branded" editions.
Finally, the ABC changes also address "hybrid editions" -- for example, the model used by the Detroit Free Press, in which a subscriber receives print newspapers on some days and digital editions on others.
The ABC clarified that hybrid edition readers can only be counted once, and only provided that there is evidence that they accessed the digital edition or paid an incremental fee for the extra edition. That's compared to "bundled" subscriptions for readers who receive print and digital editions of the same newspaper every day.