After the cancellation of Open General License (OGL) in 1952, the problem of availability of newsprint and its prices remained a cause of anxiety, and various devices were employed to overcome this problem. The basic step in this regard was the promulgation of the Newsprint Control Order of 1953 which was made under the Essential Supplies (Temporary Powers) Act, 1946. According to this Order, there was a full-scale control on prices and distribution of newsprint. This Order was repealed in March 1955 on the persistent demand of newspapers which eased the availability position of newsprint in the country. The Newsprint Control Order, 1953 was replaced by Newsprint Control Order 1955 making the Newsprint policy milder than the previous Order. For the purposes of the Order of 1955, a Newsprint Control Organization was set up in 1956 under the Ministry of Industries headed by a Newsprint Controller. Initially, Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) was a part of the Ministry of Industries which was set up under Newsprint Control Organization in 1956. Thereafter, as a result of the Cabinet Decision in May 1958, ABC was transferred from the Ministry of Industries to the Ministry of Information.
Before the establishment of ABC, the Government had to accept the rates arbitrarily charged by the newspapers on the basis of certificates obtained from Chartered Accountants. After the establishment of ABC, it was observed that there was a considerable divergence between circulation figures certified by the Chartered Accountants and as assessed by ABC. Moreover, as the concept of auditing the circulation of newspapers/periodicals by Audit Bureaus became acceptable and popular throughout the world, ABC was allowed to continue to work even after the repeal of Newsprint Control Order of 1955 in 1959 and abolition of the Newsprint Control Organization.
Through a decision of the Cabinet, dated 3rd April 1984, circulation audit of any publication was declared mandatory for getting government sector advertisements. However, in order to ensure representation of the Federating units, 3rd Interprovincial Information Minister’s Conference, held at Nathiagali on August 27-28, 1992, decided to establish a Provincial Assessment Committee for making assessment of net paid circulation of newspaper/periodicals in their respective regions. PACs were to give recommendations for subsequent approval of Director, ABC.
The ABC was initially mandated with the following functions:
- Import policy of Newsprint
- Grant of permission for use of Newsprint by various publications
- Fixation of prices of Newsprint
- Import of Newsprint and its proper distribution
In addition to the above mentioned assignments, the Bureau also started verifying the circulations of newspapers/periodicals. Basically, the objective of verifying the circulation of newspapers was also to rationalize the newsprint requirements of newspapers on the basis of their circulations. Besides, the assessed circulation figure was also made the basis for fixation of Government advertisement rates.