Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about:
- Joining CMCA
- Promoting Your CMCA Membership
- CMCA Forms, Reports and Record-Keeping
- On-Site Audits and Spot Audits
Got a question? Send it to the CMCA office at email@example.com.
Q: We have recently joined a trade association and were told that we have to get our circulation figures audited as a condition of membership. How do we apply?
A: Application to CMCA is very easy. The first step is to download the application form at www.circulationaudit.ca/download. Next, fill out the form and contact the CMCA office in order to determine what your fees will be. You can also take this opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the program. Following this initial discussion, send your completed application and payment to the CMCA office. Upon approval of your application, you will be contacted to get you started on your initial reporting.
Q: I've recently applied to Canadian Media Circulation Audit. May I now display the CMCA logo on my masthead?
A: Displaying the CMCA logo says a lot about your newspaper. The CMCA logo is a stamp of approval that indicates you are a member in good standing, but more importantly, it tells advertisers and agencies that your circulation systems and practices have been independently verified. For this reason, every CMCA applicant must successfully undergo an initial audit before they may display the logo.
But this does not mean that you must wait six months or longer to publish your CMCA membership status. As a new applicant, you have the option to submit a three-month applied status report. Once this report has been audited and processed, you will be able to inform your advertisers that you have "CMCA Applied" status (denoted as CMCA*). Applied status lets your advertisers know that you have applied to CMCA and that they can expect your initial audit results soon.
Q: I've received my Canadian Media Circulation Audit report. Where can I get the logo to use on my masthead?
A: The CMCA logo can be downloaded from the CMCA website at www.circulationaudit.ca/download. Both black-and-white and full-colour versions are available.
Q: What am I allowed to do with the logo when promoting my CMCA membership?
A: You may display the CMCA logo on your masthead, newspaper ads, advertising rate cards, newspaper’s web site, and other promotional materials that you show to your prospective advertisers confirming that your circulation has been independently audited. Refer to the Publicity Rules in the CMCA Member Manual for more information.
Q: There are two editions of my paper, but only one is a member of CMCA. They both go to the same recipients in the same areas. May I use the logo in both papers?
A: Because only one of the editions has had its circulation audited by CMCA, you may only display the CMCA logo in that edition. If you would like to have your other edition audited, complete an application and send it to the CMCA office. Additional editions are eligible for a 50-percent discount off of the CMCA membership rate.
Q: Which circulation figures may I use for advertisements or promotional materials?
A: Your CMCA report contains a lot of information about your circulation system. The top section of your CMCA report shows your averages for the reporting period -- Total Paid Circulation, Total Controlled Circulation, Total Circulation and Total Distribution. You may publish these circulation figures in your promotional materials, including your house ads, rate cards, brochures and online advertising.
Note: Always use the figures from your most current CMCA report.
Refer to the Publicity Rules in the CMCA Member Manual for more information.
Q: Now that I have my CMCA report, may I also use it to determine the readership for my paper?
A: CMCA figures may only be used to show what your circulation is; they do not denote readership. Your materials must clearly differentiate between figures that have been verified by CMCA (i.e. your circulation averages) and any other claims such as readership. To ensure clarity, you should mention the source of your readership claims. Refer to the Publicity Rules in the CMCA Member Manual for more information.
Q: I have just submitted my circulation statement and need to provide advertisers and agencies with circulation figures. May I use the figures on the report that I just submitted?
A: No. You may not publicize the figures from an circulation statement until you have received the CMCA Report from the CMCA office. However, you may use figures from your last CMCA report. You can access your reports online by logging into the “View Reports” section of the CMCA web site.
Q: I’d like to get started on my next report. Where can I obtain the forms?
A: Forms can be downloaded from the Resources section of the CMCA website. These forms are updated regularly, so download a new set every time you have a report due. The forms are available in Microsoft Excel format and Portable Document Format (PDF). The auto-calculating Form X, which calculates all the averages and totals for you, is also available on the CMCA website.
Q: Where should we submit our six-month reports?
A: Send publisher’s circulation reports to the CMCA office. Address information is at www.circulationaudit.ca/contact.
Q: How do I know when the deadline for my report is?
A: Interim reports are due at the CMCA office one month after the end of the six-month reporting period.
Submit Annual reports for auditing one month after the end of the six-month reporting period. Auditors and chartered accountants will then have one month to submit the results of the audit.
Q: What should be included in our report submission? What forms do we need to submit?
A: The following forms are mandatory:
- Form X – Publisher’s Circulation Report
- Form X.3 – Distribution Breakdown (Form X supplement)
- Form Y – Press Run Certificate
- Form Z – Single Issue Circulation Report
- Form G – Publisher’s Delivery to Carriers, Dealers, Distributors, Street Boxes and Apartment (controlled circulation)
- These forms are available in portable document format (PDF) or MS Excel format from the Resources section of the CMCA website.
Q: What information do I have to provide on Section 3: Distribution Areas of Form X?
A: List the towns, communities, cities, and rural routes that receive 25 or more copies and the number of copies distributed to each place for the particular issue that has been selected.
Q: Do we use the same issue in Section 3: Distribution Areas and Section 4: Geographic Breakdown of Form X?
A: Yes, supply information for the same issue of your newspaper in these two sections.
Also note: The total number of copies in Section 4 must be equal to the Total Circulation (column Q) for that issue in Section 6: Distribution Summary.
Q: We ship our free paper to our dealers in remote communities. As distance is a problem, we cannot accurately report the returns. Do we still need to report returns on Form G?
A: You can set up a simple system of tracking returns by asking your dealer/distributor/carrier to count the number of returns per issue and have these figures faxed to you. This way you actually save on transportation charges as you don’t need to have the copies returned to you and you don’t need to visit the location in order to record returns.
Q: We are a controlled-circulation paper and we distribute by carriers and dealers, but we don’t receive any returns. Do we have to complete Form G even if we don’t have returns?
A: The intent of the new policy is to capture as accurately as possible the circulation pattern and practices of the publication. In many cases, the publisher has reported zero returns because a system has not been put in place to count them. Whether you have any returns or not, all members with controlled circulation delivered using these methods must implement a system to track returns. Both the system that you put in place and the numbers that you claim will be verified by the auditor.
Q: We circulate our papers for free; however, we only distribute by mail. Is Form G still mandatory for our paper?
A: No. Because distribution by mail does not involve having a driver pick up returns, it is not required that Form G be completed.
Q: We have a form that is very similar to Form G that we use for recording returns. Do I still have to complete Form G?
A: Provided that the forms you use have the same information as on Form G, these forms are acceptable. If your form does not have the declaration on it, please add it to your forms or attach a copy of Form G with the declaration signed by both the driver and the circulation manager. It is important that the declaration is signed by both parties in order to verify that all returns have been counted.
Q: We are a paid-circulation paper. Do we need to fill out Form G?
No. Because Form G is only mandatory for all publications with controlled circulation and distribute by carriers, dealers and distributors.
Q: If my paper has been chosen to be spot audited, does that mean I am in trouble?
A: No. Spot audits are selected at random, with the expectation that each member will be subject to a spot audit at least once. One of the goals of the spot audit is to provide on-site guidance aimed at helping the member comply with the current CMCA policies and practices.
Q: How will I know if my publication has been selected for an on-site spot audit?
A: Your publication will be notified in writing, 30 days in advance of the actual audit period. You have the option of choosing the date and time within the audit period that is convenient for you and your staff.
Q: I haven’t been selected for a spot audit, but I’d like to be prepared just in case. What can I do on an ongoing basis to ensure the process goes smoothly?
A: Prepare for your audit by maintaining an organized filing system. Organize your files such that when a request is made for this information, you can immediately find it. Keep your press run certificates and all your circulation documents in one place. Have a central location in which to file dealer invoices, carrier payment records, printer invoices, statements of mailing from the post office and record of counter sales. If your paper keeps records tied in with your computer accounting, have them ready as well. If you have any questions about what is required for the audit, contact the CMCA Auditor.
Q: What happens after the on-site audit?
A: Once the audit is completed, the auditor will discuss any discrepancies that have been found during the process. These findings will be included in the auditor’s report. A copy of the auditor’s findings will be forwarded to you together with the CMCA report.
The spot audit is a very positive experience for the majority of members. The on-site audit process is beneficial to members either as reinforcement of good record-keeping practices or a source of guidance to bring your circulation records and practices into compliance with the CMCA rules and policies.
Got a question? Send it to the CMCA office at firstname.lastname@example.org.