Icom closes as advertising slumps

Fifteen staff, including four magazine editors, are believed to have lost their jobs after the closure of Icom Publications.

The Surrey-based company, set up by former Reed staffers David Shortland and Alec Barton almost 20 years ago, suspended six of its B2B titles after it went into liquidation.

Icom specialised in four sectors – communications, broadcasting, satellite and energy – focusing on rapidly developing pan-regional markets in Asia and the Middle East. It also had an office in Hong Kong.

The magazines to close are Electricity International, Asian Power, Middle East Communications, Middle East Broadcasting & Satellite, Asia-Pacific Satellite and Asian Communications.

Insiders put the financial difficulties down to abysmal trading conditions in the telecoms industry.

The company’s staff count has almost halved in the past two years because of a 60 per cent downturn in telecoms advertising. Staff are also known to have taken big pay cuts last autumn and the offices were sold to reduce overheads.

“A lot of magazines went down the chute but we managed to keep going by selling the premises and working from home,” said one former editor.

But advertising continued to fall and the magazines became thinner and thinner until the closures were finally announced.

Another source claimed it was difficult to generate advertising because of the editorial stance taken by some of the titles. Some companies were less keen to advertise in magazines such as Asia Pacific Satellite because they raised too many awkward questions.

“Maybe some senior executives didn’t want an independent magazine that would question things,” said the source.

As well as magazines, Icom also produced a series of yearbooks, electronic newsletters, CDs and websites.

By Ruth Addicott

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