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ABC’s new cross platform rules

The ABC recently announced a new ‘cross platform’ certificate for magazines. The ABC’s Jan Pitt explains the thinking behind the new rules.

By Jan Pitt

As more and more publishers launch digital editions of their publications, it is crucial that we support the industry in promoting the growth of their digital offering.

At the latest ABC Reporting Standards Group meetings for Business and Consumer Magazines, industry representatives agreed new digital editions rules to take account of the new opportunities presented by the latest technology such as iPads.

Magazines have always had the option to report digital editions on their certificate. For Consumer Magazines the new rules allow for print circulation and digital editions to be presented alongside each other but not combined within the ABC headline figure. Business Magazines continue to report their print and digital editions alongside each other, within a combined headline ABC figure. For the first time both sectors will now report on the new Cross Platform Certificate of Circulation.

So, what are the changes and what do they mean? For both sectors, the definition of what a digital edition represents has changed. The old rules specified that digital editions had to be an exact replica of the print edition. The new rules allow more editorial flexibility as up to 5% of the content can now differ from the print copy. Editorial and advertising can be reformatted and enhanced to take advantage of digital platforms.

There are also new rules relating to the inclusion of advertising content providing more flexibility. The principle is that all Run of Paper adverts contained within print editions must appear in digital editions unless otherwise agreed with the advertiser. Publishers may also add additional advertising if required. The new rules come into effect from January 2011.

We are constantly looking to improve reporting. The new certificate is testament to this as it will bring all the figures together in one place, making the information clearer and more accessible.

The new rules give publishers much more flexibility in how their digital editions are audited and reported. They have been agreed by the industry, for the industry and our role is to ensure that we continue to evolve in line with the changing media landscape.

The Newspaper Reporting Standards Groups will be meeting this month to discuss similar changes to their Reporting Standards.