Circ 101: News Media Terms for Nonpaid Circulation

June 24, 2019

Sandi Licking, Client Solutions Training Manager



In our Circulation 101 columns, we explore some of the foundational knowledge needed to understand and analyze print and digital circulation. Whether you’re new to circulation and AAM and need a cheat sheet or you’re a veteran looking for a quick refresh, we’ve got something for you. In this column, we’ll explain nonpaid newspaper circulation categories.


Qualified Nonpaid Circulation

Home Delivery - Address Specific – This category of qualified nonpaid circulation represents subscriptions or single issues delivered to individual residences at the publisher's discretion. The program must meet the following requirements:

  • Delivery to a resident for personal use by the recipient
  • If the service is more than a day, the recipient is notified of the term and frequency of the service and provided the opportunity to opt out. Communication must be written; email is not acceptable.

Home Delivery -  Market Coverage – These are nonpaid copies distributed to saturate a neighborhood. ZIP or postal code area or other market coverage. The program must meet the following requirements:

  • Delivered to individual residences
  • No more than one copy per residence
  • Copies do not exceed the number of households in the area

Public Access

  • Copies requested by public locations such as doctors’ offices, restaurants or hospitals for use by their patrons. Copies must be easily accessible to patrons.
  • Copies delivered to common areas of multi-unit residential buildings and made easily accessible to residents in common areas.
  • Copies of the newspaper distributed via racks at nonresidential locations such as bus stops, grocery stores, gas stations, etc.

Other Qualified

  • Copies served to students in a classroom with the following requirements:
    • The classroom or school must be accredited
    • Limit of one copy per student (print or digital, not both)
    • The news media organization must collect affidavits annually (view the guide for affidavit requirements)

  • Print or digital copies made available for pickup and use by university and college students. Eligibility requirements include:
    • A request from the university or college to receive the copies
    • Copies are made available to registered students and faculty
    • For print copies, the distribution must be in a limited-access area of the campus used only by students. Additionally, the quantity claimed must be the net copies consumed for each issue.
    • For digital copies, students and faculty must register, activate or download the application to start the subscription. Only the copies accessed qualify and a unique identifier for each user must be made available for the audit.

  • Copies served to current employees, independent contractors or carriers, and correspondents who contribute at least one article per month. If the news media organization has multiple titles, only one copy across the portfolio may be claimed for the employee program.

View the full list of news media circulation terms and definitions in our support center


Topics: News Media, Circ 101

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