ABC has said it has no plans to give regional newspaper publishers the choice to keep their circulation figures private – unlike their national counterparts.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations has today introduced a new system for national newsbrands under which publishers will be given the option to decide whether or not to make their print sales figures public.
The move is designed to address concerns that circulation still tends to be seen as a the “only measure” of the health of a newsbrand even in a multi-platform age.
But ABC has confirmed it has no current plans to extend the move to regional newspaper titles.
It says the changes have been made to “create a balance” in how the national newspapers “tell their story of growth to the market” – enabling to factor in digital audiences alongside print sales.
An ABC spokesperson told HTFP: “There are no plans to introduce the private/reporting options to other sectors.”
Reach plc, which owns both regional and national titles, has opted to keep its nationals’ figures public in the report released at noon today.
Only News UK’s titles have so far opted to take figures private – for The Sun, The Sun on Sunday, The Times and The Sunday Times.
Discussing the move, ABC chairman Derek Morris said: “Keeping a joint industry currency joined up sometimes requires compromise.
“However, all agree that the higher principle of independently audited figures to an agreed standard is critical and must be maintained.
“I believe ABC have protected this principal and found an agreed middle path.”
The audit bureau will continue to publish the figures of those opting to retain public reporting on its website.
Commenting on the news, Phil Smith, director general of ISBA, which represents UK advertisers, said: “We fully support the changes announced by ABC today.
“These reporting updates will reduce the tendency for circulation to be seen as the only measure of newsbrands’ health in our multi-platform age, whilst ensuring that the comparability and trustworthiness of ABC data remains available to buyers.”
Tracy De Groose, executive chair of newspaper industry marketing body Newsworks, added: “We need to ensure the way the industry is measured reflects the reality of our modern multi-platform news industry.
“This announcement from ABC gives the industry the access to circulation data it continues to need, while ensuring the focus isn’t on that in isolation. The focus has been concentrated on this single narrative for too long and now we have the opportunity to ensure a more holistic view.”