Single Copy Paid

Confirm your single-copy promotions qualify as paid on AAM documents.

 

This guide explains and clarifies the rules and guidelines governing promotions for Canadian newspapers that generate paid single-copy circulation on AAM documents. This guide is not intended to be all-inclusive, but provides general guidance on the most common initiatives. 

To qualify digital copies as paid circulation, please see the digital editions guide.

It is the publisher’s responsibility to ensure that initiatives comply with all AAM rules and guidelines. Upon request, AAM provides a confidential review of members’ programs. If you are developing an initiative that is not addressed in this guide, please contact AAM.



Definitions

Single Copy

Single copies are single issues purchased by individual consumers for personal use.

Situations that generate single copies include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Retail stores purchase copies from the publication and resell them to individual consumers..
  • Hawkers (street sales people) purchase newspapers and resell these copies to individual consumers on the streets (subways, train stations, bus stations, busy street corners, etc.)
  • Copies placed in vending machines (racks) where individual consumers input coins to gain access to the newspaper.
  • A newspaper sells single issues of the newspaper over the counter at their business location(s).

Paid Circulation

AAM defines paid circulation as subscriptions and single copies paid at an amount of at least one cent, net of all considerations. All circulation figures on AAM documents for single-copy sales are net sales. All unsold copies (copies not resold to consumers) must be excluded from paid circulation figures.

While AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined is the primary rule defining paid circulation, it is not the only AAM rule a newspaper must consider when creating single-copy promotions. Rules governing premiums, combination sales, etc. also exist. A newspaper must consider all pricing rules applicable to the program they are developing.

Back Copies

An issue of a newspaper becomes a back copy after the following corresponding day’s newspaper is available for sale. For example:

  • A Monday issue becomes a back copy when the following Monday’s newspaper is available for sale,
  • A Tuesday issue becomes a back copy when the following Tuesday’s newspaper is available for sale.

Sales of back copies are not eligible for inclusion in paid circulation. See AAM Rule C 105.11 Single-Issue Sales of Back Copies.

 

Charitable Donations

Single-issue sales of newspapers promoting a donation to a charity are eligible as paid single copy.

Pricing

When a portion of the newspaper’s purchase price is donated to charity, the consumer must pay no less than one cent, plus the amount presented to the consumer as a donation.

See AAM Rules C 105.7 Sponsored Subscriptions and C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • Indicate the specific amount of the donation and name of the charity.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Reporting

Circulation generated from the sale of single issues including a charitable donation is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents. 

 

Coffee and Newspaper Concept

Sales of newspapers bundled in a package with a non-newspaper product, such as a coffee, are eligible as paid single copy.

The coffee and newspaper concept applies when both the following occur:

  • A single issue of a newspaper and a non-newspaper product are sold together as a package for a single price, and
  • Neither product is stated or inferred as free, no additional cost, no extra charge or other synonymous language.

If your program positions the non-newspaper product as free with the newspaper purchase, the premium rules apply. If your program positions the newspaper as free, the copies are only eligible as qualified circulation.

Pricinga newspaper is sold in a package with a non-newspaper product, at least one cent, plus the full value of the non-newspaper product must be paid by the consumer.

The full value of the non-newspaper product is the highest price at which it is sold to consumers without the purchase of a newspaper, during the time of the promotion. The difference between the package price and the price of the non-newspaper product separately is the implied value of the newspaper and must be no less than one cent, net of all considerations.

See the definition of paid circulation in AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Promotional Materials

All promotional material must:

  • State the items involved in the purchase (newspaper and non-newspaper product).
  • State the selling price for the package.
  • Identify the price at which the non-newspaper product is sold separately to everyone during the entire time of the promotion.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude reference to any of the items in the package as free, no additional cost or other synonymous language.

Reporting

Circulation generated from single issues sold with a non-newspaper product is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents.

 

Combination Sales

Combination sales are defined as two or more different publications sold as a package during new, renewal or billing efforts, and each publication in the sale is a priced product (newspaper or periodical). Single-issue combination sales are eligible as paid single copy.

Three-Stack Policy

In all single-copy venues where a newspaper is sold in a combination package, AAM requires each publication be available for purchase separately. This requirement is often referred to as the “three-stack” policy because the consumer must be able to choose from three purchase options:

  1. Combination package
  2. Publication A separately
  3. Publication B separately

This three-stack policy applies to all single-copy outlets where the combination package is sold including retailers, vending machines and hawkers.

Pricing

The selling price of the combination package cannot equal less than one cent, net of considerations for each publication in the sale. In addition, the selling price of the combination must be at least:

  • 100 percent of the highest individual selling price.
  • One cent for each additional publication in the sale.

See AAM Rules C 105.3 Combination Sales and C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the publications involved in the combination.
  • State the selling price for the combination package.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude reference to any of the publications in the package as free, no additional cost or other synonymous language.

Reporting

Circulation generated from combination sales is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents.

 

Contests

Offering purchasers the opportunity to enter a contest and win a prize is acceptable. Offering an individual the chance to enter a contest does not impact the qualification of a paid single-issue purchase.

If the winner of the contest is a single-copy purchaser, then he or she has received a gift as a direct result of purchasing the newspaper. Since there is only one winner who effects only one copy, the impact to paid circulation is immaterial.

If the newspaper held a significant number of contests or offered a significant number of prizes over the course of the audit period that impacted circulation materially, AAM may consider the contest to impact paid circulation.

Disclosure of these contests is not required.

See also AAM Rule C 105.5 Contests and Coupons.

 

Discounts

Discounts represent single issues sold at a price lower than basic.

Pricing

Single-issue sales of the newspaper may be sold at a price of at least one cent, net of considerations. See AAM Rule C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Reporting

Circulation generated from discounted single-copy sales is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents.

 

Extras

Extra editions are editions published by the newspaper after the main edition is released. These are typically a direct result of unexpected newsworthy events such as tragedies, sporting event championships, or other random unplanned occurrences.

The newspaper decides the editorial and advertising content of the extra edition product.

Extra editions only apply to single copy. See also AAM Rule C 102.6 Extras.

Pricing and Qualification

An extra edition will qualify as paid circulation if the following requirements are met:

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the extra edition.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

Reporting

Circulation generated from sales of extra editions is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents.

 

Premiums

Premiums are any item or inducement offered to consumers enticing them to purchase a newspaper. The premium item could be anything provided free or at a discount as a direct result of the newspaper purchase.

The following items are not considered premiums:

  • Coupons in the newspaper (ROP and FSI).
  • Free or discounted access to archives or back content.
  • Free or discounted access to online content or digital editions from the same editorial home of the publication.
  • Merchandise offered to consumers where receipt of that item is not contingent on the purchase of the newspaper.

See also AAM Rule C 105.1 Premium Defined.

Pricing

When a premium is offered in a single-copy sale, the consumer must pay at least one cent, plus no less than the full value of the premium.

The full value of the premium is considered the highest of the following:

  • Stated value (value stated on the promotional material).
  • Retail value (price it would cost the consumer to buy item in the public marketplace).
  • Cost to publisher (cost to obtain or produce the item).

In some cases, an item may not be sold to the public and the promotional material will not state a value. In those cases, the cost to publisher would be used to determine the premium value. However, if more than one value exists, the premium value is always considered the highest value for AAM qualification.

See AAM Rules C 105.2 Premiums with Subscriptions/Single-Copy Sales and C 101.1 Paid Circulation Defined.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • State the selling price of the newspaper.
  • Identify the premium being offered with the sale of the newspaper.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.

The premium gift may be presented to the consumer as free.

Reporting

Circulation generated from single issues sold with premiums is classified as paid single copy in AAM’s database and documents.

 

Sale of Single Issues with Announcements

Newspaper sold with announcements such as obituaries, weddings, engagements, anniversaries and births are eligible as single-copy sales.

If a third party purchases copies for free distribution to recipients (such as a funeral home, bridal shop, hospital, event, etc.), the program is only eligible as qualified circulation.

Qualification

When single copies are offered with the sale of an announcement, the following requirements must be met:

  • The decision to purchase newspaper copies must be separate and distinct from the purchase of the announcement.
  • The consumer must act (opt-in) to order the newspapers.
  • The consumer must be charged an incremental cost for the copies above the cost of the announcement.
  • The promotional material, invoice or receipt must itemize the charge for the newspaper copies separate from the cost of the announcement.
  • The announcement must be for sale. for a lesser price, without the inclusion of the newspapers.

Pricing

When two copies are sold with announcements, the consumer must pay no less than one cent per copy, net of considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Offer the consumer the choice to purchase newspapers.
  • State the selling price for the newspaper above the cost of the announcement.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude reference to the copies as free, no additional cost or other synonymous language.

Reporting

Circulation generated from single issues sold with announcements is classified as paid single copy on AAM documents.

 

Two Single Issues of the Same Newspaper Sold Together

Two copies of the same newspaper sold together as a package in retail venues are eligible as paid single copy.

As a reminder, back copies are not eligible for inclusion in paid circulation. See AAM Rule C 105.11 Single-Issue Sales of Back Copies.

Two-Stack and Three-Stack Policies

At all single-copy venues where a newspaper sells two single issues of the same newspaper together, each issue must be available for purchase separately.

  • If the offer contains two copies of the same issue, the requirement is often referred to as the “two-stack” policy. The consumer must be able to purchase a single copy of the issue for a lesser price wherever the package is sold
  • If the offer contains a single copy of two different issues, the requirement is often referred to as the “three-stack” policy. The consumer must be able to purchase each issue independently for a lesser price wherever the package is sold

These two- and three-stack policies apply to all single-copy outlets where the package is sold including retailers, vending machines and hawkers.

Pricing

When two copies of the same newspaper are sold together as a package, the consumer must pay no less than one cent per copy, net of considerations.

Single issues available in the two- and three-stack policies must be priced less than the package by at least one cent per copy, net of considerations.

Promotional Material

All promotional material must:

  • Identify the issues involved in the sale.
  • State the selling price of the package.
  • State the selling price of a single issue independently from the package.
  • Reflect a qualifying price.
  • Exclude reference to any copies as free, no additional cost or other synonymous language.

Reporting

Circulation generated from the sale of two single issues of the same newspaper is classified as paid single copy on AAM documents.

 

For the Audit

For all single-copy efforts, a newspaper must maintain a file for each audit period containing examples of solicitations used. See AAM Rule B 101.1 File Copies, Subscription Promotion Offers.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Direct mail pieces
  • Order forms
  • Telemarketing scripts
  • Radio scripts (or recordings of radio advertisements)
  • Television scripts and storyboards (or recordings of television advertisements)
  • Print outs of website pages
  • Point-of-purchase materials (signs, posters, etc.)
  • Advertising campaigns (run of press and free standing inserts)

The newspaper should be able to identify the internal promotional code assigned for each unique promotion.

In addition to reviewing promotional materials, the auditor will evaluate the financial relationship. This includes a review of wholesale rates, return policies, collection procedures and credits issued between the newspaper and its vendors (retailers, hawkers, distributors, etc.). Access to the records of these third-party agents is required.

It is expected that the publication responds in a timely manner to all auditor requests for documentation to support circulation claimed as paid single copy.

It is the publishers’ responsibility to ensure that their promotions comply with all AAM rules and guidelines. Upon request, AAM provides a confidential review of members’ programs. If you are developing an initiative that is not addressed in this guide, please contact AAM.

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