Private Frazer’s Doomed Magazines

August 13, 2014

Corridor of Uncertainty

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 9:00 am

There’s nothing that says ‘summer’ more than the thwack of P45 on doormat and it’s going to be a long, hot one for the team over at The Cricketer (formerly ‘The Wisden Cricketer’, even more formerly ‘The Cricketer’).

I say ‘team’, but according to Liz Gerard’s SubScribe blog, the editor and both staff writers have now been made redundant, leaving the magazine with no full time journalists.

It’s got everything Private Frazer asks for from a spectator sport – a once-famous brand bought by a multimillionaire owner with no background in publishing, a rapidly falling circulation (down 20% in three years) and crushingly low workforce morale.

No need to refer to the third umpire on this one.

June 3, 2014

Back to Future

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines,Future Publishing — privatefraser @ 11:38 am
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“In forming our opinion … we have considered the adequacy of the disclosure made … within the consolidated interim financial information concerning the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The company incurred a net loss of £30.0m during the six months ended 31 March 2014 and … had net current liabilities of £21.6m. These conditions … indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” PricewaterhouseCoopers, Report on the consolidated interim financial statements Futureplc

Even by their own high standards, this has been a rough few months for Future. Profit warnings, redundancies, the departure of a CEO, the sale of their (profitable) cycling and craft titles as they attempt to patch (another) hole in their balance sheet and now yet more redundancies. Once these sales and lay offs have happened, Future will be down to fewer than 500 staff in the UK – as recently as 2011 the company employed more than 1,200.

Future’s shares, which were worth 29p in 2011 are now down to around 9p. They’ve lost 90% of their value since 2005. When the sale to Immediate was announced the shares rose by a penny, an indication perhaps that the banks see more value in the dismemberment of the company than in its long term survival. (more…)

September 5, 2013

Spin on that

Filed under: B2B magazines,Chair by the door — privatefraser @ 8:46 am
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And another B2B controlled circulation title creaks and falls with the news that PRWeek is now no longer weekly.

Of course, as this is a magazine for flacks you expect a positive spin to be put on things, which is why this isn’t a diminution but a “landmark relaunch”.  So what radical editorial departures can we expect from the new version of the title?

The monthly magazine will offer in-depth features, expert opinion and authoritative analysis covering everything from big business issues to the minutiae of life in the comms industry. There will also be coverage of the lighter side of PR along with creative inspiration and even an agony uncle.

A PR agony uncle! I have a question:

Dear Uncle Rupert, my media company is heavily in debt and the circulation of all my products continues to fall. How can I put the reverses that the business continues to face in the best possible light without being accused of actually lying?

July 4, 2013

World of Wonder

Filed under: Bauer,Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 12:56 pm

When Bauer launched Wonderpedia magazine last May they made a big deal of the “£1 million launch campaign”. Of course they didn’t spend anywhere near a million quid, but whatever was spent seemed to have been pretty much wasted as the title had a debut ABC of only around 20,000 – a pathetic result for what was meant to be a major launch.

The Bauer PR department must have taken an early summer holiday, as there’s been surprisingly little fanfare about the fact that the title has been moved from Bauer’s London Lifestyle division to the less glossy arms of H Bauer. This is the stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap division where Wonderpedia will sit alongside Take a Break, That’s Life and TV Choice.

“Curiosity is hardwired in us all.” said Wonderpedia’s launch press release. I bet there are some interesting questions being asked at Bauer.

June 24, 2013

Freemium Lunch Over?

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 9:00 am

One of the few apparent ‘success’ stories of publishing in the past few years has been ‘freemium’ (or, to give it the correct term ‘free’) product.

These are the mags pressed into your hands by be-anoraked minimum-wage earners as you fight your way into the tube station (sorry rest of UK, this is a London-centric post, notwithstanding the claimed distribution outside the English capital by some of the publications). There are now morning and evening newspapers, magazines for virtually every day, and seemingly new ‘tests’ of new free products every week.

A series of emails to Private Frazer’s bothy over the past week suggest that the gilt may be coming off this particular gingerbread. Obviously as these missives are anonymous they may be the product of untrustworthy bletherskites; and, because they are uncorroborated and Private Frazer has no wish to read dull letters from media owners’ legal scuddlers, the publications that they mention have to remain veiled in secrecy, but the picture they paint is one of increasing costs, reduced ad revenue, falling readership and more random distribution. (more…)

June 18, 2013

Blue remembered bills

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 12:52 pm

More news on Blue Publishing who, until recently, were the publishers of Superbike and Loaded magazines. They’d acquired these from Vitality Publishing (which went bust in 2012) who, in turn, had bought them from IPC’s remnants sale in 2010. Blue Publishing (owner of which is the ridiculous Paul Baxendale-Walker/Paul Chaplin) recently launched then recently closed Zip magazine.

An email from Ray Kidd confirms that Blue Publishing is now insolvent and that the two magazines have been transferred to a new company, Loaded Media Ltd (i.e. the fourth business to own the titles in three years). Loaded Media was incorporated on the 25 April 2013. Presumably the debts for the Zip fiasco stay with Blue Publishing as, seemingly, does any recent unpaid work for Loaded or Superbike.

The company address of Loaded Media and Blue Publishing remains the same, as does the principal director (a Mr Paul Michael Baxendale-Walker).

For some reason Blue Publishing seems to be a particular favourite of Press Gazette, puff pieces appearing here, here, here and here. To date, Press Gazette has not published anything about the company’s demise.

Anyone with any further information (including whether freelances, printers, distributors and other creditors are actually getting any of the money they’re owed) is invited to contact the usual address.

May 13, 2013

Written on the wind

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 10:05 am
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News from the literary world courtesy of Media Bistro, as Granta magazine loses not only its editor, but also its deputy editor. And its associate editor. And its art director. Oh, and they’re also closing their New York office.

Ordinarily, this would mean that the odds on the title getting to its next issue would be very long indeed, but when you’re owned by a billionaire heiress the normal rules probably don’t apply – in all sorts of ways.

 

24/05/13 UPDATE: Ten days later the story has made it to the Grauniad: The world of publishing was rocked to its foundations…” 

May 1, 2013

Getting Less Cooler

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines,reduced frequency — privatefraser @ 2:45 pm
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A chill wind blows along the corridors of Factory Media’s offices as the decision is taken to reduce the publishing frequency of Cooler magazine to just two per year.

But as usual, as the attached letter to subscribers shows, this is not a retreat, but a victory!

If magazine publishing continues to have triumphs such as this, by the end of the decade only one edition of one magazine will be published – but it will be the best thing in the whole wide world.

 

H/T to JK

April 12, 2013

Less Ink on Less Paper

Filed under: B2B magazines,Chair by the door,Corporate bollocks — privatefraser @ 4:12 pm

News from Hammersmith as Haymarket offload Nursery World and Printweek to the Mark Allen Group. The value of the sale (which will be of interest to Haymarket debt watchers), is not mentioned.

Printweek will be relaunched as a fortnightly. (Presumably called Print2weeks)

Jane Macken, md of Haymarket Business Media is quoted as saying, “The sale of the titles allows HBM to concentrate on its core markets in line with the company’s group growth strategy.

That’s growth as in “growth (sic)”.

 

h/t to Mr X (I suspect that’s not his real name)

 

April 2, 2013

Failed experiment

Filed under: Chair by the door,consumer magazines — privatefraser @ 5:10 pm
Tags: ,

“See a dinosaur come to life” was one of the cover lines on the launch issue of Bonnier’s Science Illustrated UK.

One dinosaur that failed to show much life at all was the magazine itself, which seems to have met its own extinction event after less than six months. The Science Illustrated UK website tells its own story.

With the less than stellar sales of Bauer’s Wonderpedia (a million quid launch for 20,000 sales) perhaps publishers’ research into this category has been less than world class.

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