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Single Copy Subscription Sales - ROI Consumer Magazines

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Definition

A single copy sold and distributed to an individual or organisation for a contracted period.

Principles

  1. There must be a contractual arrangement between the subscriber and the publisher (or their agent)

  2. Single copy per issue, distributed to a known addressee

  3. Single copy knowingly paid for by the subscriber

  4. For a contracted period and for a minimum number of issues (at least two)

  5. Standard subscription rates must be published

  6. Reported by rate, comparing price paid by subscriber with standard rate

  7. The price paid for the publication by the subscriber must be clear and conspicuous

 

Requirements | Reporting | Guidance


Requirements 

1. There must be a contractual arrangement between the subscriber and the publisher (or their agent)

  1. You must be able to provide evidence of the contractual arrangements between the subscriber and the publisher (or their agent) including the issues/period and the price.
  2. If you merge publications or purchase a subscription list from a ceased publication it must be clear that subscribers have made a choice to receive the publication claimed.

  3. Retail subscriptions (where the purchaser buys a subscription at a retail outlet and is given a unique code that enables a subscription to be activated) can be claimed as long as:

    1. They are sold through a third party retailer.

    2. Each retail subscription has a unique activation code.

    3. The retailer supplies reports identifying how many retail subscriptions have been sold and the price.

    4. You can demonstrate the number and prices of retail subscriptions both purchased and activated to support the claim.

    5. They have been activated and distributed.

We will consider auditable alternative retail subscription schemes but you will need our approval in advance. 

Guidance available

2. Single copy per issue, distributed to a known addressee 

  1. You must retain a list of individual recipients for one designated issue each reporting period (the Audit Issue - see General Principles and Record Keeping section). In addition you must be able to recreate a list for any issue in the reporting period on request.

  2. You must be able to demonstrate the copy is distributed to the addressee. 

Guidance available

3. Single copy knowingly paid for by the subscriber 

  1. The subscriber must be the addressee except:

    1. Where the addressee is an employee whose employer is the subscriber.

    2. Where the addressee is the recipient of a gift subscription from the subscriber (maximum 12 subscriptions per subscriber).

  2. The purchase by the subscriber may be in cash or by other means agreed by ABC in writing.

  3. You can claim copies where payment is outstanding as long as there are reasonable grounds to consider them to be live, good and collectable.

Guidance available

4. For a contracted period and for a minimum number of issues (at least two)

  1. You can claim back issues:

    1. Where a subscriber has specifically requested back issues as part of their subscription term:

      • For up to 3 months preceding the issue current when the subscriber is first added to the mailing list for UK and Republic of Ireland addressees.
      • For up to 6 months preceding the issue current when the subscriber is first added to the mailing list for addressees in other countries. 

    2. Where a subscriber has not been specifically notified via the subscription offer that back issues will be part of their subscription term:

      • For weekly publications: For up to 2 issues immediately preceding the issue current when the subscriber is first added to the mailing list.
      • For non-weekly publications: only 1 issue immediately preceding the issue current when the subscriber is first added to the mailing list.

Guidance available

5. Standard subscription rates must be published

  1. The 'Basic Annual Rate' (BAR) is the standard 1 year subscription rate for the publication, in contrast to a special price only available to a limited class, or under limited conditions.

  2. There can only be 1 BAR per country/wider geographical region.

  3. If rpint subscriptions are not available separately then there is no need to publish a BAR.

Guidance available

6. Reported by rate, comparing price paid by subscriber with standard rate

  1. You must claim a subscription in the appropriate rate band by comparing the price paid for the subscription with the relevant Basic Annual Rate at the time of sale (pro-rate if less than 1 year). Note - ignore for ABC purposes:

    1. Bank charges or exchange rate differences

    2. The value (or perceived value) of any gifts, or other incentives (including bundled publications or media products that are not claimed for ABC purposes). However cash reimbursements to the consumer must be taken into account.

  2. If a subscription promotion includes a gift or product that is being claimed for ABC purposes (for example a bundled copy of a publication or access to a paid website) then the price paid must be allocated according to the following, moving down the list until one can be applied:

    1. According to the specific terms of the offer.

    2. Where specific terms are not clear, by pro-rating the price according to the relative prices of the ABC claimed products.

    3. Where the specific terms are not clear and in the absence of a means of pro-rating the price paid, it should be divided equally between the number of ABC claimed products included in the sale.

  3. Where a subscription is sold through a subscription agent:

    1. Copies can be claimed as sold at Basic Annual Rate unless they are known to be discounted.

    2. Linked incentives offered by the agent (with no contribution from the publisher) will be ignored for ABC purposes.

  4. You may treat subscription orders for more than one year as a sale at Basic Annual Rate if the published multi-year subscription rate when pro-rated to 1 year:

    1. Is at least 90% of the BAR for a two year subscription; or

    2. Is at least 85% of the BAR for a three year subscription.

  5. You may treat renewal or direct debit rates as full rate providing the amount paid is at least 90% of the BAR.

  6. If you do not publish a relevant BAR then those copies must be claimed in the lowest rate band.

    1. An exception is where no BAR is published because print subscriptions are not available separately. In this case you must determine rate band classification by using an “alternative BAR”, which is set at 75% of the annualised print single copy cover price. For example: If print only subscriptions are not available but the print copy cover price of a weekly publication is €2, then the “alternative BAR” used in lieu of the BAR is 52 weeks x €2 x 75% = €78.

  7. You must retain details of subscription rates and special offers during the reporting period

 Guidance available

7. The price paid for the publication by the subscriber must be clear and conspicuous 

No additional requirements.

 


Reporting

You will report single copy subscription sales as follows, which will be broken out on the ABC certificate (note: the term Full Rate will replace Basic Annual Rate for reporting purposes):

  1. By geographical type:

    1. United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland

    2. Other Countries

  2. By rate band:
    1. At Full Rate

    2. Below Full Rate but not less than 50%;

    3. Less than 50% of Full Rate but not less than 20%;

    4. Less than 20% of Full Rate but not less than 10%;

    5. Less than 10% of Full Rate.

  3. By total average single copy subscription sale over the period.

  4. The Full Rate at the time of the last issue reported in the period for UK, ROI and Other Countries.

    1. If there is more than one Full Rate for Other Countries then you must report 'various'.

    2. If no Full Rate is published during the Reporting Period because print subscriptions are not available separately (and you are claiming print and/or Digital Edition Subscriptions), then you must report the “alternative BAR” as defined in section 6f above.

 


Guidance

G1. There must be a contractual arrangement between the subscriber and the publisher (or their agent).

  1. If you merge publications or purchase a subscription list from a ceased publication it must be clear that subscribers have made a choice to receive the claimed publication. Examples of how this may be achieved are shown below.

    1. Merger. If you merge publications where there are live subscriptions:

      • Subscribers to one publication only
        • You may continue to fulfil the contractual requirement of the subscription by mailing copies of the ‘new’ publication until the expiry of the subscription period.

      • Subscribers to both publications
        • You may refund the unexpired portion of one subscription and continue mailing copies until the remaining subscription expires; OR
        • You may net the value of the unfulfilled subscriptions and allocate copies on an issue by issue basis until the value has been subsumed.

    2. Purchase or transfer of subscription lists from a ceased publication

      • If you purchase or transfer a list of subscribers from a ceased publication, you could claim these as subscriptions if you could demonstrate:
        • The amount each subscriber is 'in credit' in terms of the payments for their subscription to the ceased publication.
        • How the credit is applied to the subscription to the claimed publication.
        • The subscriber has either:
          1. Elected to continue his subscription to the claimed publication; or
          2. Has been given the option to discontinue his subscription to the ceased publication and obtain a refund.

  2. As records for two or three year subscriptions may need to be provided for audit you must ensure these are still available. You may wish to ask us to seal the galley (mailing list) at audit where this might prove difficult going forward.

G2. Single copy per issue, distributed to a known addressee

  1. Distribution evidence: This will usually be from a third party company whose normal business is single copy distribution (such as Royal Mail). Typically the evidence will include testing the payment of invoices and related advice notes sufficient to identify the publication, issue, quantities and date distributed.  

G3. Single copy knowingly paid for by the subscriber

  1. Cash means legal tender notes and coins, cheque, credit/debit card, wireless payment systems.

  2. Where payment is outstanding you may take into account the following in considering whether there are reasonable grounds to consider the debt to be live, good and collectable:

    1. Publisher's normal credit terms

    2. Payment history

    3. Credit control efforts

G4. For a contracted period and for a minimum number of issues (at least two)

  1. The contracted period may be a rolling issue by issue (or open ended) arrangement providing the contractual arrangements clearly intend there to be an on-going payment mandate and the sale is not promoted as a single copy purchase.

G5. Standard subscription rates must be published

  1. Published does not mean necessarily published in the publication but published so that they are publicly available.

G6. Reported by rate, comparing price paid by subscriber with standard rate

  1. [Requirement 6b showing examples ] If a subscription promotion includes a gift or product that is being claimed for ABC purposes (for example a bundled copy of a publication or access to a paid website) then the price paid must be allocated according to the following, moving down the list until one can be applied:

    1. According to the specific terms of the offer. For example: Buy X magazine get Y free means Y will be treated as free.
    2. Where specific terms are not clear, by pro-rating the price according to the relative prices of the ABC claimed products. For example where the promotion is ‘Buy a subscription to X and Y for €50’ and X and Y have Basic Annual Subscription rates of €40 and €50 respectively then the €50 paid will be pro-rated in the ratio 40:50.

    3. Where the specific terms are not clear and in the absence of a means of pro-rating the price paid, it should be divided equally between the number of ABC claimed products included in the sale.

    4. Further Examples of Subscription Promotions:
    5. What’s in the subscription promotion?

      How is it promoted?

      Can it be claimed?

      How is it claimed?

      Criteria applied

      Publication A + Handbag

      Subscribe today and receive a free handbag

      Yes

      At price paid (handbag ignored as not ABC claimed)

      i

      Publication + Handbag

      Buy handbag and receive free subscription to Publication A

      Not as paid

      Publication is free (could be claimed as free if appropriate criteria met).

      i

      Publication A + Marks & Spencer Vouchers

      Subscribe for 3 months and receive vouchers for Marks & Spencer

      Yes

      At price paid (vouchers ignored as not ABC claimed)

      i

      Publication A and Publication B (both ABC claimed)

      Subscribe to Publication A and receive Publication B free

      Publication A Yes.

      Publication B Not as paid

      Publication A at price paid (Publication B treated as free as promoted as free)

      i

      Publication A and Publication B (both ABC claimed: Publication A sub normally €80 and Publication B sub normally €40)

      Subscribe to both Publication A and Publication B for €100

      Yes, both.

      €100 pro-rated = €67 Publication A and €33 Publication B

      ii

      Publication A and Publication B (both ABC claimed: Publication A sub normally €80 and Publication B sub normally €40) + Handbag

      Subscribe to both Publication A and Publication B for €100 and receive a handbag worth €50

      Yes, both.

      €100 pro-rated = €67 Publication A and €33 Publication B (handbag ignored as not ABC claimed)

      ii

      Publication A and Website access (both ABC claimed: Publication A sub normally €100 but Website access is only available as a package with the Publication)

      Subscribe to Publication A and receive website access – all for €100

      Yes, both

      €100 divided equally €50 for Publication A and €50 for website access (website access is not available either free or paid so no price can be identified to pro-rate).

      iii

      Publication A + Digital Edition (not ABC claimed)

      Subscribe to Publication A for €100 and receive the Digital Edition worth €80

      Yes

      Publication A at €100 (Digital Edition ignored as not claimed)

      i

      Publication A + Digital Edition (both ABC claimed: Publication A sub normally €100 and Digital Edition sub normally €50)

      Subscribe to Publication A and the Digital Edition for €120 (normally €150).

      Yes, both

      €120 pro-rated = Publication A at €80 and Digital Edition at €40

      ii

  2. Examples of promotional offers that would result in copies being claimed at a discounted rate:

    1. 'Save 25% on your subscription'

    2. '2 years subscription for the price of one'

    3. '18 issues for the price of 12'

    4. 'Buy 12 issues get 6 free' (note: All 18 issues can be claimed as paid, with the price paid being allocated equally across them).

 G7. The price paid for the publication by the subscriber must be clear and conspicuous

No additional guidance.