Time Inc, a unit of Time Warner and publisher of the venerable (and venerated) Time magazine, last week warned around 150 clients and media buyers that its sponsored sales program is under investigation.

Information about the program was subpoenaed in July by the US Attorney in the Eastern District of the Court of New York. The demand follows disqualification of a Time sponsor by the Audit Bureau of Circulations earlier this year.

In a letter to advertisers, Time's evp Jack Haire defines the sponsored sales program as "magazine subscriptions purchased by a sponsor for distribution either to public places, such as waiting rooms in doctors' offices, or to a targeted group of individuals selected based on the subject matter of the magazines."

ABC rules allow sponsored sales subscriptions to be counted as 'paid' circulation provided the sponsor pays at least one cent per subscription.

The DA's office declined comment on the investigation, while Time spokeswoman Dawn Bridges would say only that Time is "cooperating fully with the investigation and is committed to open and transparent communication with its advertisers".

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff