ABC issues rules preventing bulk sales from bolstering circulation

The Audit Bureau of Circulations has finalised the new rules for auditing bulk newspaper sales, making it more difficult for publishers to bolster their circulation figures.

Deals such as the one struck between the Mirror Group and Ladbrokes, where large numbers of newspapers were supplied to the chain of bookmakers, will have to follow the ABC’s new rules, or the sales will not be taken into account in audits.

Newspaper publishers must get prior approval of their audit procedures from the ABC for these sort of schemes.

A dispute over this particular deal erupted last April (MW April 2) when News International complained to the ABC.

An ABC statement which explains the new rules for national newspapers says: “Firm-sales retail-level bulks, [contracts to supply retailers with large numbers of newspaper copies]which have been the subject of recent controversy between Mirror Group and News International, will not normally be admissible.”

Ian Weston, circulation director of News International, says: ” The ABC has now given a clear lead on the implementation of the new bulk rules which will effectively ban retail level bulk sales from July.”

The new rules, which come into effect from June 29, define a number of categories such as airlines and hotels where firm-sales bulks will be admissible up to an agreed limited percentage of seats or rooms.

Publishers will have to prove a bona fide contract with the outlet and proof of delivery to a final point of distribution.

Figures for July – the first to be audited under the new rules – will be released on August 17.

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