OK! will no longer be able to count the sales of its promotional issue priced at one penny and distributed alongside copies of the Sunday Express in its next official circulation figure, following changes to the magazine circulation rules.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations Council introduced a rule change specifying that where the purchaser pays for the publication wholly in cash, the price paid must be at least of 20 per cent of the cover price in order to count as a valid sale.
The rule change, which came into effect on Monday (April 2), will also affect the circulation of Hello!. It teamed up with the Mail on Sunday to offer an issue priced at one penny when the marketing plans of OK! and the Sunday Express came to light.
Hello! publishing director Sally Cartwright was one among a number industry figures who voiced concerns about the promotion. She claims that it could distort circulation figures through cut-price sales and that it offers little incentive to newsagents to return unsold copies, which are then included as sales.
ABC director of newspapers and consumer magazines Martyn Gates says: “We are not restricting the use of promotions. But we have to ensure that circulation data is measurable.”
Cartwright says: “I welcome the ABC rule change, though I am worried this entire exercise will degrade the currency of one of the industry’s most valuable tools.”