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Panpa Bulletin : June 2006
6 | PANPA BULLETIN June 2006 Unanimous acceptance by members of the Audit Bureau of Circulations of stricter rules in the auditing of Australian newspapers and magazines from July 3 has been accompanied by warnings the sweeping changes could pro- duce a slight drop in reported sales levels of some publica- tions. Figures covering the first of the quarterly audits to be con- ducted under the new rules are expected to be released on No- vember 14, covering the period from July 3 to October 1. Publishers must now disclose how many copies are fully paid and how many are given away as part of 'contra' marketing or commercial deals. "The new rules and style of reporting mean there can be no comparison to previous reporting of net paid sales," said the ABC's announcement of the changes - the first major overhaul of the bureau's rules since its inception in 1932. Under the new rules, brought in to dispel concerns among advertisers and media buyers that free and heavily discounted copies were in- flating sales figures, audited circulation results for news- papers and magazines with sales of greater than 25,000, will be: • Supervised by a new au- dit inspector, whose role is to strengthen compliance and increase the transparency of the audit process, as well as upgrading leadership and au- dit supervision; • Published quarterly, cov- ering the March, June, Sep- tember and December quar- ters (up from twice a year, supplemented by twice-yearly publishers' statements); • Segmented to show the composition of net paid sales including: A) Event sales (these continue to be capped at one per cent of net paid sales and cover sales at sporting events, conferences and exhibitions.), B) Hotel and airline sales, C) Education sales (to universi- ties, colleges and schools), D) Multiple publication sales. To help publishers and ad- vertisers, the audit rules are be- ing simplified and clearer defi- nitions and been provided. Publishers who flout the rules risk being excluded from the Au- dit Bureau of Circulations. Fairfax's director of cor- porate affairs, Bruce Wolpe, told the PANPA Bulletin he believed the new rules were a significant improvement. Fairfax had supported the initiative and was committed to making them a useful and informative tool "We will work with the ad- vertising industry to educate the market about the rules and the results they gener- ate as there will be no mean- ingful correlations with this year's circulation numbers," he said. Welcoming the unanimous vote approving the new rules, News Limited chairman and chief executive John Harti- gan said the industry-wide support they had received heralded a new area in which publishers, advertisers and agencies would benefit from increased disclosure of circu- lation results. "These reforms will ensure the rules are simpler and more clearly defined and that circu- lation results are available more often and in greater detail than in the past," he said. The addition of a range of compliance and certification requirements and overview by a new audit inspector would protect and enhance the integ- rity of circulation numbers. The move to four annual audits and the decision to seg- ment results would increase the amount of data avail- able for analysis of seasonal trends, as well as provide up- to-date data more often. "The segmented results will allow publishers, advertisers and agencies to focus on the important issues rather than whether sales to airlines, hotels and schools are valid sales or not, as indeed they are, but the extent to which these are valu- able audiences that advertisers want to reach," said Hartigan. The new rules would also stimulate debate about the need for improvements in other areas. "The new circulation results will coincide with quarterly readership results and there is no doubt that the next frontier is for an industry-wide push to adopt new ways of measuring and reporting readership." Hartigan believes the changes will prompt further examination of the frequency and transparency of audits for other media, such as radio and television. ABC's chairman, Dr Ste- phen Hollings, said the an- nouncement of the new rules was a momentous day for the bureau. The unanimous vote justified the time and work that had gone into ensuring a workable set of rules "designed to provide the transparency, regularity and accuracy that the industry demands". Hollings, who is strategic development director of ad- vertising at News Limited, has accepted that sales might de- crease slightly under the new rules, although it is difficult to predict a general trend. The ABC has begun a com- prehensive training program for publishers and auditors. This will be followed by a program for advertisers and agencies when the first au- dited data is released. Rule books and audit guide- lines are being made available for downloading from the web- site -- www.auditbureau.org.au. auditing newspaper readership will be a lot more thorough with the introduction of new rules writes Jack Beverley The numbers game Warren Page THE Commonwealth Press Union in London has cancelled this year's Harry Brittain Fellowship and its fu- ture is up in the air. Cancellation of what the CPU de- scribes as its most prestigious train- ing activity, and the postponement of all its other fellowships is related to a comprehensive review of the CPU's work and future directions. The review is in light of the CPU's forthcoming centennial and changes taking placein the newspaper industry throughout the Commonwealth, ac- cording to the organisation's website. Named after the founder of the CPU, the Harry Brittain Fellowship since 1960 has provided opportunity annually for up to 10 young editors and senior journalists from New Zealand, Australia and other Com- monwealth countries to spend six weeks in the United Kingdom. There they learn how the British media functions and examine the coun- try's political, economic and social infrastructure. Part of the training includes a week-long attachment to a regional newspaper. The CPU executive director, Lind- say Ross, told PANPA Bulletin until the review was finished she was unable to say what the future of the Harry Brit- tain Fellowship would be. "I do not think it would be unreasonable to say that, along with many other activities the organisation undertakes, there will certainly be changes," Ross said. The international management consultancy company DeLoitte's has conducted the review. "Deloitte's has consulted our sec- tions across the Commonwealth throughout the review process as, obviously, the views of our overseas members are key to the future of the organisation," Ross said. "It has also consulted with a broad cross-section of individuals and organisations who have had long-standing relationships with the CPU and who are able to make constructive and candid contribu- tions to the future of the organisa- tion." Ross expected the review draft report to be ready in mid-May and once it was submitted to the CPU executive committee for their ap- proval it would be made public, probably via the website. fellowship program on hold