Sun 2 Nov, 2008 12:34 pm
I understand that every newspaper and magazine in the United States must by law publish a statement of how many copies it sells and prints each year.
What is the public policy reason for this requirement? To my knowledge the sellers of all other products and services are not required to publish a similar statement.
Public policy reason? Probably none. It is an anachronism from an earlier age designed to keep the advertising salesmen honest. Merchants were told that the mag or paper would be printed and distributed to X-number of folks (hence the line about printed minus returned unsold/destroyed).
Nowadays, in the print and tv racket, as well as in the internet ad business, there are private companies (such as Nielsen - which watches TV) that do, arguably, a better job. If a network, for example, promises 30 million pairs of eyeballs watching the Phillies vs Bucs, and Nielsen says the number was 20 million, if Nielson was the yardstick the advertisers and the network had agreed to use, then the networks will have to provide free ads to compensate for the shortfall.
Thank you. Unfortunately, there have been scandals involving inflated circulation at Newsday and other newspapers.
I don't know about any law that requires them to publish their circulation, but there are market reasons to have independently audited circulation numbers.
The reason is advertising. If you were to advertise in a newspaper, how would you know what a fair price is? The Audit Bureau of Circulations is an example of an auditing organization that collects and audits this information.