BBC warns that TV mags price war will harm market

BBC
Magazines has accused IPC and Bauer of devaluing the TV listings sector
after the two close rivals cut cover price as part of an ongoing battle
for market share.

IPC announced last week that market leader
What’s On TV would reduce its price to 35p – undercutting Bauer’s TV
Choice by 5p – a move swiftly followed by Bauer, which this week
reduced its title to 30p.

The move has hotted up the
alreadyfierce competition between the two publishers, following the
launch of IPC’s real-life weekly Pick Me Up , seemingly as a direct
rival to Bauer’s That’s Life!.

The BBC, which publishes
secondhighest seller Radio Times , insisted it would not join the price
war and warned that ultimately readers would suffer.

Marcus
Arthur, publishing director at BBC Magazines, said: “I’m disappointed
that the value of the sector is being decimated in this way by this
aggressive price-cutting activity.

“Sales in this sector have
remained static for seven years, so why should this latest attempt to
increase sales through price cuts succeed where similar activity in the
past has failed? Unlike other magazine sectors there is no dual
purchase within the listings category, so launching new titles will not
grow the sector -it will merely cannibalise sales of existing
magazines.”He added that retailers were paying for the price cut by
getting less of a commission from selling the magazines, which could
lead to fewer retailers being willing to stock the titles and less
choice for readers.

“By reducing price, publishers, retailers and consumers all lose out,” he said.

IPC’s
What’s On TV currently leads the listings market with a circulation of
more than 1.6 million, but it saw its sales drop by three per cent in
the six months from January to June last year.

Third-biggest seller TV Choice saw sales climb by 12 per cent to nearly 1.1 million in the last ABC period.

An
IPC insider told Press Gazette that he questioned the reasoning behind
Bauer’s price cut: “Cutting price isn’t the same as cutting value – our
decision to cut price on What’s on TV was well researched and part of a
longterm strategy to grow the brand.

“Bauer seems to have taken a
kneejerk decision to cut price directly after our announcement as a
defensive move, perhaps without having the time to think through the
consequences.”

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