Number crunching

Number crunching: Crain’s NY Business reports that Ziff Davis Media may have overstated paid circulation numbers for PC Magazine in 2002 and 2003.

Ziff zips a response: It didn’t take long for Ziff Davis to issue a press release responding to the Crain’s NY Business report. In short, Ziff is blaming the “subscription agent.”


The subscription agent, Synapse Group, Inc. (a Time Inc. subsidiary and
industry leader) who managed the program for these subscribers through its Web site, represented to Ziff Davis that all of the
subscriptions were individually requested by subscribers and that payment for
the subscriptions would be made by a third-party sponsor. Furthermore, ABC‘s
audit process independently verified that these subscribers requested PC
Magazine and received copies of the magazine. These subscribers also provided
valuable data regarding their company name, type of business, job title and
job function. has been utilized by many leading publishing
companies to generate subscriptions for dozens of leading paid and controlled

In the course of recent ABC audit procedures, Synapse Group stated that it
did not yet bill the sponsor for certain of these subscriptions generated
through, but would do so and also indicated that the sponsor
would pay the to-be-issued invoices.

Because these payments would occur more than seven months after the start
of service for these subscribers, they would not qualify as paid circulation
if a certain ABC rule applies. Ziff Davis asked ABC for an exception to that
rule, if applicable, and just learned today that ABC denied the request. Ziff
Davis may seek from ABC either a reconsideration of the denial or a finding
that the rule does not apply to these subscriptions, and strongly believes
that the lack of timely billing by the agent should not affect the
classification of the subscribers as paid. Ziff Davis will report the results
in accordance with the final determination by ABC.