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ABC Looks to Launch New Auditing Service

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The Audit Bureau of Circulations plans to launch a new auditing service directed at community newspaper publishers.

The ABC board gave the initiative initial approval during its July meeting in Chicago last week. The service, ABC Community Newspaper Audit, could be available to U.S. and Canadian publishers with newspapers with paid circulation under 25,000 by Jan. 1, 2010, if the ABC board officially stamps it.

The idea is to offer smaller newspaper operators a lower cost and simplified auditing process with annual flat fees that begin at $2,000.

"This is a significant new service offering that directly addresses the challenges many community newspapers face today," Kirk Davis, president and COO of GateHouse Media, said in a statement. "Many publishers in this category will likely see savings of 25 percent to 50 percent, with the quality and brand draw of an ABC audit to help them attract local, regional and national advertisers. I think it will have widespread appeal for many newspapers."

Many marketers, including those who are placing national ads, are turning to community newspapers. Merle Davidson, director of media services at J.C. Penney and chairman of the ABC board, said advertisers are looking to community newspapers in order to "improve reach and coverage in local markets no longer being served by metropolitan newspapers."

Additionally, the ABC board agreed to freeze audit fees for 2010 for the third consecutive year. It is also extending the one-year testing of an optional consolidated report that allows newspapers to display a variety of print, online and other audience data.

During the meeting it was decided that U.S. and Canadian newspapers with an average weekday circulation under 50,000 do not have to break out "power days."

Sunni Boot, president and CEO of ZenithOptimedia Canada, has been named as the new chairman of the ABC Canada Board. Dennis Skulsky, president and CEO of Canwest Publishing, is serving as vice chair.

Nielsen Business Media