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ABC Bulk Distribution - rule changes

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This section details the changes to the UK ABC Bulk Distribution Reporting Standards.

Issued December 2017

  • Excluded issues - Christmas (Daily titles only): The following has been added in relation to optional exclusions for the Christmas/New Year period: "If the fall of days renders these dates inappropriate ABC reserves the right to amend the dates for any particular year". It has been agreed that for 2017 publishers may opt to exclude issues published on Friday 22nd December from the average circulation. The issue's circulation must be reported separately on the certificate in line with existing requirements.


Issued August 2015

  • Sample Free Distribution - new category available from September 2015: This new category will allow you to claim copies that meet the existing rules for Free Pick Up, except for the fact that their distribution does not follow a regular and consistent pattern. Therefore one-off or irregular distributions can be claimed under this Sample Free Distribution category and will be analysed by type by issue. You must obtain ABC’s agreement in advance of the distribution. Due to the increased audit time this type of distribution will incur, additional costs will be payable which will be dependent upon the extent of the job. Please contact us for guidance on this.

Guidance Update - August 2015

  • Retail Promotions - Guidance on discounts / cash reimbursements: Clarification of how in-store promotions that result in discounts or cash reimbursements affect the reporting of the publication for ABC purposes.

  • Retail promotions - Guidance on clarification of clear and conspicuous pricing: Clarification of what is clear and conspicuous pricing when a publication is sold in-store as part of a bundle or package with other products.

Issued June 2013

  • We have undertaken a major exercise to re-write the Reporting Standards to make them easier to use.

  • After consultation with the industry the new rules have moved to a principle-based approach, allowing for more flexibility to deal with new and changing developments in circulation and verification. We have also harmonised common names and definitions across sectors.

  • Each rule is outlined by a simple definition first, underpinned by its principles and then followed by more detailed requirements. Separate guidance notes provide common examples and applications of achieving the requirements

  • As a result of this exercise some rules have changed, but most are minor changes linked to harmonising and simplifying. Click on the link above to view a document summarising the changes.

  • *Please note*: These changes apply from July 2013, therefore for reporting periods up to and including June 2013 you must use the previous Reporting standards, available in the Reporting Standards Archive.

  • Some of the main changes worth noting are:

    1. Reporting page size in format rather than mm.

    2. Mandatory reporting of information on the publication has been removed.

Issued June 2012

  • Editorial content: From periods ending July 2012 average percentage editorial content will replace average percentage advertising content on the certificate; what is deemed editorial is simplified and the editorial content is to be identified to the nearest half page.

  • Social Media: From June 2012 you can now report a basic measure of social media audience(s) on a product’s ABC Multi-Platform Certificate. Examples of what could be reported are Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter ‘Followers’.

  • Digital editions: You can now optionally report a breakdown of digital editions by browser, device or other identifiable and auditable metric.

  • Digital editions: From periods ending June 2012 you can optionally state the average number of digital edition copies that have been requested or paid for by individuals, but which are not are not included in the ABC circulation figures because a print copy to those individuals has been claimed.

  • Optional Summer 2012 certificate: We will be able to issue separate optional certificates for the summer of 2012 (between July and September 2012). This is to allow you the opportunity to report ABC audited data for publications where, for the purpose of specific Olympic/Paralympic Games related activity, either the content or delivery have been changed in a way that would ordinarily make those copies ineligible for inclusion on an ABC certificate.  

Issued December 2011

  • From January 2012 reporting period: clarification of the information and requirements for bulk distribution claims, including ABC's right to contact distribution points, information expected on the Master List of Distribution Points and the audit treatment following the assessent of management controls.

Issued May 2011 

  • Digital editions: From July 2011 there are changes to the definitions and requirements in relation to the reporting of digital editions of a print publication. Please refer to the letter on the link above for more details.


If you require information on any earlier changes please contact us.