Archive for the ‘closures’ Category

IPC set to close Nuts

March 31, 2014
First sold issue of Nuts

First sold issue of Nuts

IPC Media has announced a 30-day consultation with staff about the potential closure of Nuts and Nuts.co.uk. IPC Inspire managing director Paul Williams said:

After 10 years at the top of its market, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts and exit the young men’s lifestyle sector. IPC will provide impacted staff with all the support they need during the consultation process.

There are several factors behind the decision. First, falling sales. In print, it now shifts an average of just 53,000 copies and digital figures are a pitiful 8,000 an issue.

Second, Nuts and its rivals have been under attack from women’s lobby groups for the past year as a form of harassment. Time-Life, the strait-laced US owners, undoubtedly hate this – Maxim founder Felix Dennis has pointed out that a magazine like Nuts could never have been launched in the US: ‘anyone who does [try to] will be utterly crucified because there isn’t anywhere to sell it. There’s not a supermarket in America that would touch [Emap's and IPC's weeklies] Zoo or Nuts.’

Also, Nuts has been looking exposed since IPC sold lad’s mags pioneer Loaded four years ago

First issue of Zoo from Emap

First issue of Zoo from Emap

Yet, when Nuts and Zoo launched in 2004 it was one of the great publishing races of the decade – IPC gave away a million free copies through WHSmith. At stake was leadership of a weekly men’s market alongside women’s in a way that gave hopes of turning the publishing clock back to the 1950s. IPC beat Emap (since swallowed up by Bauer) by a week and Nuts has held the sales lead since.

The first ABC sales figures were impressive – almost 300,000 for Nuts and 200,000+ for Zoo. The weeklies took a chunk out of the monthlies – FHM (Emap), Loaded (IPC) and Maxim (Dennis) – with Loaded losing almost a third of its sales in 2005-6. Since then, all the headlines have been about plummeting, for monthlies and weeklies. Maxim was the first to go in 2009.

IPC reckoned it spent £8m launching Nuts – that’s the best part of £1m a year over its decade on the news-stands. The only winner has been websites (and not the ones owned by the publishers).

So, what will Bauer, publisher of rival Zoo, do now? Zoo’s sales are even more dire – 29,521.

IPC profile

Bauer/Emap profile

Men’s weeklies

Men’s monthlies

 

 

 

Family Herald – ‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine’

March 22, 2014
Family Herald title from 1935

Family Herald title from 1935

‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine since 1842′ is the grandiose claim still made in 1935 below the title of Family Herald Magazine almost a century after its launch.

Quite a claim for a magazine that had seen launches such as Home Chat, Home Notes and Woman’s Own in that time. What justifies the hyperbole?

Family Herald was a pioneer of the fiction-based penny women’s weekly formula when it was launched by the publisher George Biggs. The secret of its success was that its production was mechanised – from typesetting through printing to binding. With mechanisation came speed – and labour disputes because Biggs employed women workers – but ultimately high volume sales. By the middle of the 19th century, it was claiming a sale of 300,000 a week and was one of the best-selling cheap weeklies. The price went up to 2d – but stayed at that level till it closed in 1940.

The grand claim is based on the word ‘premier’, meaning ‘first in importance, rank, or position’. In 1935, it could hardly make the claim of the highest sale and its production values would have looked cheap in the extreme against the like of Newnes’ Woman’s Own, which called itself ‘The family favourite’ (and ‘the world’s finest weekly paper’ when it switched to colour gravure in 1937). However, its standing in the world of magazines was well established and its pioneering history could justify the claim, which, not being based on an objective statement, such as sales or number of pages, was difficult to challenge.

Family Herald cover 1935

Family Herald 1935: illustration and the blue ink were limited to the cover in its 20 newsprint pages

Despite its claim, by 1935 Family Herald was on its last legs, running to 20 pages on newsprint with the only colour being the use of blue ink for all the matter on the front. There was no advertising to speak of and very little illustration except on the cover. It was published by the Family Herald Press in Crane Court off Fleet Street, and printed at Yorkshire Printing Works in York. It was a technological pioneer when it founded but had stuck to letterpress technology with its poor reproduction of images – and photograph-friendly gravure was in the ascendency at this stage. Family Herald would close in 1940 with the advent of paper rationing.

Murdoch’s News of the World legacy

July 8, 2011
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch on Guardian website

What will be Rupert Murdoch’s legacy in terms of newspapers in Britain? With the Sun, Times, Sunday Times and News of the World he had the most powerful newspaper group in Britain. He’s a throwback to the great twentieth century Fleet St barons – I’ve read of Northcliffe describing the young Murdoch as his favourite newspaperman.

He fought off Robert Maxwell to win control of News of the World and use it as the international stepping stone to form the world’s first global media group. His reputation for media innovation is unrivalled. However, today’s Machiavellian decision to close the News of the World throws a 168-year history, 200 journalists – and some legendary campaigning journalism – on the scrapheap.

Yet, even though Murdoch has acted with unprecedented speed to try to halt the damage, more is undoubtedly still to come. The fallout – a Rupertgate or Jamesgate – could leave the Murdoch name lying alongside those of Maxwell and a corrupt media mogul of the early 1900s, Horatio Bottomley.

Britain's most famous front page - the Sun's Gotcha

Britain's most famous front page - the Sun's Gotcha

But Rupert brought us the topless redtop style of the Sun with its Page 3, along with Kelvin MacKenzie, and headlines such as ‘Gotcha’ and ‘Freddie Starr: I ate my hamster’ – as well as the later ‘Freddie Starr: I ‘ate my wife’ . And England team manager Graham Taylor as a turnip. How many other front or back pages are as well known? But that paper also plumbed the depths with its Hillsborough coverage – an example of falling in with the police – and is still paying the price in terms of its sales on Merseyside.

Murdoch took over the Times (on a Friday, the 13th), and took it downmarket, shafting Harry Evans in the process, though he has bankrolled it to the tune of tens of millions a year for a while now.

His papers helped to turn round the fortunes of Margaret Thatcher when she was unpopular in her first years in power. The Sunday Times was hagiographic here, portraying her on the front of its magazine as Joan of Arc. Murdoch’s HarperCollins book arm later published Thatcher’s memoirs. And the Sun is seen as having saved John Major from electoral defeat in 1992 with its vitriolic campaign against Neil Kinnock – ‘If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’ ran the front page on polling day.

Andrew Neil, looking on BBC TV these days as if his whole body is on botox, was working for Murdoch when he bought us never-mind-the-quality-feel-the-width journalism at the Sunday Times and adverts to recruit reporters who could write at length on any topic. That has certainly done journalism no good. As Matthew Engel writes in the British Journalism Review, ‘Over the past ten years the quantity has remained relatively stable,’ but ‘what worries me now is the quality.’ He was writing about newspaper sports pages in general, but it’s an argument that can be made for the rest of the Sunday Times.

Mirabelle launch cover

Mirabelle launch cover

Murdoch failed to make much headway in magazines (remember the embarrassing Mirabelle?), but brought us Sky TV and the Simpsons – though ruined the game of football in the process.

He is also one of the world’s most successful tax avoiders, managing to make billions in profits but using complex offshore company structures to avoid paying tax.

But the activities at the News of the World take us back to Hillsborough in terms of awfulness. For the editor and executives to say they did not know what was going on is no defence. They should have known. The paper was, as Rosie Boycott said on Newsnight, ‘200 miles into illegality’.  To be paying £100K to private eye Glen Mulcaire and not know what he was doing just beggars belief.  Phone-hacking comes under the RIPA Act – Regulation of Investigatory Powers 2000.  It’s what was used to jail News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and Mulcaire.

Boards of directors are paid to be responsible and ignorance is no defence under the law. It’s difficult to see Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson going quietly. Bigger fish than Mulcaire and Goodman are going to come into the frame.

Journalists: writing their own obituaries

January 23, 2011

‘One of the troublesome things about being a journalist – as I have been all my working life – is that a considerable part of our time, these, days, is devoted to writing our own obituaries. This is not exhilarating work … We are, in the nicest way, dinosaurs. Just as the old iron-founders were superseded by technology, and the flint-knappers and the ploughboys, so we are superseded by new methods – better ones, quite often; new media, like the one I am using now.’

No, this is not from a blog, but from a talk by Picture Post legend James Cameron, ‘Letter from London’ broadcast on the BBC World Service in January 1979 (the ‘new media’ he refers to was short wave radio). It was reported in the Listener, a BBC magazine that closed a few years later.

Hachette Filipacchi to close Sugar

January 19, 2011

Sugar teen magazine cover November 1994

Hachette Filipacchi UK is to close Sugar magazine. The decision by the French-controlled publisher comes after the teen sector has already seen most titles wiped out as readers switch to mobile phone and the web.

Even so, Sugar is the most popular monthly in its market selling more than 110,000 copies a month – though this is down from 486,000 in 1997.

HFUK has blamed teenagers’ appetite for free content and Guardian columnist Sarah Ditum seems depressed by the magazine being drowned in freebies, ‘tempting in purchasers (they may not even bother to read the magazine) with gifts that outvalue the cover price’.

Like many such closures, the website sugarscape.com will carry on.

Teen magazines profiled

Hachette profile

Rossetto was right about Wired

March 19, 2010

In December 1988, Redwood/BBC Magazines tried to launch a monthly technology magazine, Tomorrow’s World. The TV series had big viewing figures – it was scheduled after Top of the Pops – but the title was a failure. It had hoped for 80,000 sales, yet came in with 61,314 (you can watch old episodes of the programme on the BBC’s archive website).

Gruner + Jahr had made a better fist of it with Focus, which is still around selling 71,783 a month and ended up, ironically, in the hands of the BBC after passing through Nat Mags when G+J folded its UK operations.

Then, the Guardian had a crack with cyberfocused Wired in a joint venture with the US parent. It hit the streets to much fanfare in March 1995 and returned an early ABC figure of 29,712. But relations fell apart, the Guardian pulled out, Wired Ventures announced big losses in the UK and Japan in 1996 and the plug was pulled in February 1997. Conde Nast, which owned 10% of the US parent, showed no interest in coming to its rescue.

Twelve years later though, Conde Nast owns the whole Wired caboodle and launches a UK edition, which turns in a first ABC last month of 48,275. That figure though hides 8,200 copies outside the UK, 10,000 subs at below rate and 10,000 freebies. So full-price newstand sales come out at just 19,280 copies. Gulp.

There’s a question mark over whether the UK is big enough for such a cool technology title. As with so many sectors – such as sports and news magazines – there is just too much coverage in the papers to compete with. Back in 1995, Media Week put the split between the Guardian and Wired Ventures down to the attitude of Wired’s founder, Louis Rossetto (‘Taut Wired finally snaps’, 4 August):

‘Louis liked the idea of a UK edition,’ says a Guardian insider, ‘but in practice he wasn’t that keen.’ There were said to be two problems – first that Rossetto believed that Wired was a global phenomenon, and therefore that the idea of radically different local editions was anathema.

To my mind, Rossetto was right. Applying a Vogue model of local editions to a borderline market won’t work. Esquire’s failed UK edition in the 1950s jumps to mind as a good comparison (and today’s is hardly a ringing success), as is Condé Nast’s Men in Vogue in the 1960s. Also, it tends to be forgotten that what drove the launch of British Vogue was the fact that the first world war made shipping it over from the US impossible.

Far better to look to the Monocle model with a true internationalist’s eye on the world from London.

Reader’s Digest goes bust

February 18, 2010

The perils of your owners being on the other side of the Atlantic have been shown with the news that the Reader’s Digest in the UK was put into administration last night.

Problems sorting out the UK arm’s pension deficit had put the refinancing of the US parent in doubt, so it had to go. It’s difficult to imagine that no-one will come along and buy it out, but more than 100 jobs are at risk and it’s hardly the ideal time to look for a backer.

So much for the company motto – ‘family, home, love and life’ – when it comes to the staff.

The magazine has shown all the signs of becoming another Punch, despite some high-profile editors and a recent relaunch. I always see it in my dentist these days and I always read it as a child in the GP’s surgery.

In 1986, Reader’s Digest was selling 1.6 m copies a month and raking in the cash from those subscriptions and its offshoots but it has always seemed a baby boomer’s title and likely to fade away with that postwar generation.  Its latest sales figure was 465,028 a month.

Reader’s Digest latest issue

Now it’s virtual Buck for men

May 15, 2009
Pyjama style from Buck

Pyjama style from Buck

Steve Doyle sank a chunk of his inheritance into launching men’s monthly style title Buck last year. But the cash ran out after three issues, the revenue wasn’t there and nor were any new investors. So he announced it was going twice yearly, but that plan has been dropped and instead the Buck team ‘decided our efforts would be better realised in a new-look website’.  Now, Buckstyle is the place to go.

Men’s magazines A-Z at Magforum

Maxim closes – but don’t mourn the gonners

April 4, 2009
Issue 4 of Maxim under editor Gill Hudson carried a CD-Rom on the cover

Issue 4 of Maxim under editor Gill Hudson carried a CD-Rom on the cover

Maxim has followed Arena into the great paper recycling bin in the sky. Well, it’s no surprise; the title had been dead on its feet for a couple of years. What is surprising is the health and breadth of the men’s lifestyle sector.

Back in 1985 there was nothing. As Brian Braithwaite, a former publishing director of National Magazines, said:

‘I was told quite positively in the mid-70s by the Men Who Must be Obeyed from America that men’s magazines were a dead duck. My attempt to produce more than one edition of Cosmopolitan Man [with Paul Keers, who was later to head the launch of GQ, as editor] in 1978 was quashed by top management to make way for yet another women’s title, Company.’

That was eight years before the debut of  Arena, which sparked today’s lifestyle titles – and James Brown’s reaction to them led to Loaded.

Today, there is FHM, Loaded, GQ, Esquire, Nuts and Zoo for the mainstream sector; Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Bizarre, Stuff and T3 taking a specialist slant;  and a raft of quarterly or biannual niche titles, from the recently launched Buck, to The Chap, Another Man, Blag, Fantastic Man, Man About Town, Notion and Wonderland.

Then, there are the freebies – Shortlist, Sport and (digital only) Monkey.

And, like any sector, men’s lifestyle is littered with bodies – Later, Cut, Deluxe, Eat Soup, Ego, Front, Ice, Mondo, Sky, Untold and Jack, to name a few.

So, don’t mourn the gonners, go out and buy The Chap and learn about Steam Punks; compare your moustache with the lads in Buck; see how many fewer nipples there are in FHM these days. Pip! Pip!

History of men’s magazines

History of Maxim

Revelling in the gloom

January 28, 2009

Private Frazer launched himself into the blogging world last year to revel in the ‘doomed’ of the magazine world. Frazer was inspired by Dad’s Army and for those who enjoy a good international revel, there’s a US equivalent Magazine Death Pool – perhaps taking its name from the Clint Eastwood film – with its Museum of Dead Magazines.

Death Pool also prompts me to give a warning to people who print web addresses – don’t leave  off the www. because it’s sometimes vital. Try these two addresses to see what I mean:

http://www.magazinedeathpool.com/

http://magazinedeathpool.com/

In both cases, you can leave off the http:// in modern browsers.


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