Customer Support Ruling
Publications of Institutions and Societies with General Advertising - Periodicals
UPDATED July 2014
This Customer Support Ruling discusses the adoption of a resolution to substantiate paid circulation consisting of membership subscriptions for certain publications of institutions and societies that may be authorized to carry general advertising—i.e., advertising that includes other than publisher’s advertising only.
Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 188.8.131.52 lists the types of publications of institutions and societies that may carry general advertising, subject to compliance with the advertising standards in DMM 184.108.40.206.
Under DMM 220.127.116.11c, mailed circulation of the publication must be limited to copies mailed to members who pay, either as part of their dues or assessments or otherwise, not less than 30% of the subscription price regularly charged to other members; to other actual subscribers; to exchanges; and, to 10% of such circulation as samples. When members pay for their subscriptions as a part of their dues or assessments, individual subscriptions or receipts are not required.
Similar to general publications, publications authorized to carry general advertising under this provision may not primarily be designed for free circulation and/or circulation at nominal prices. However, because 18.104.22.168c provides that when members pay for their subscriptions as a part of their dues or assessments, individual subscriptions or receipts are not required, publishers may, as an alternative, adopt a resolution that amends the formative papers of the organization (e.g., bylaws or constitution) that reads substantially as follows:
RESOLVED: That a copy of each issue of [publication title] shall be sent to each member of [organization name] and that from each member's annual dues of $[amount], $[amount] shall be for a one-year subscription to [publication title].
An organization that takes membership subscriptions in this manner must still maintain circulation records to substantiate compliance with circulation standards. For example, records of dues payments by members, records of other actual subscribers, exchanges, and the number of copies printed, as well as other records to account for total distribution of the publication.
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