12 Building a print circulations audit system

12.11. Records and documents to be held, presented, and archived by publisher for audit purposes

The main source of data – audit subjects – is the set of documents and records held by the publishers. An audit system should list all these items in fine detail for each and every circulation term, regardless if the data will be published, or not.

The audit focuses on the following type of documents and information:

• Contracts, with both printing houses and distribution subcontractors.
• All the documents that clearly identify the different rates (subscriptions, single copy sales, etc) used in the distribution system.
• Orders to printing houses and distribution channels.
• Delivery/transportation documents accompanying the copies.
• Notes of delivery and receipt of the copies.
• Notes and reports on sold copies.
• Invoices from, and to the printing houses, and distribution subcontractors.
• Full documents of barter agreements.
• Subscription lists.
• Accounting and bookkeeping documents.
• Documents related to complaints, and settlements.
• Own printing house internal documents: job orders, paper/newsprint warehouse documents, etc.
• Own distribution records and documents.
• Free distribution: routes and points of display, maps, programs, returns handling and distribution verification documents.
• Proof of payments of free distribution.

Each and every document should clearly state the unique identifiers of the publication, each and every issue, and every number related to a given issue.

Again, the documents cover only part of the administration and finances of a publisher, and the scope of the circulation audit should be limited to this set.

There should be rules for keeping proper records, as well as archiving these for audit inspection, or the handling of complaints. It is obligatory and practical to archive all documents and records until the next audit is executed.

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