Magazines find some reasons to be cheerful

How are we doing? The publication of the six-monthly consumer circulation figures gives the magazine industry the opportunity to do a bit of stock-taking.

For most journalists, that will mean a long, hard look at how they’re performing against the competition. Of course, there will be winners and there will be losers from those comparisons. For every champagne-fuelled celebration of a double-digit increase, there’s a black coffee and cigarettes post mortem into a corresponding plunge.

And for every sector that’s booming (pets/dogs up 63 per cent; weddings and brides up 45 per cent) there’s one that’s suffering (dance music down 27 per cent; electronics and radio down 28 per cent).

OK, so we’re taking more dogs to weddings and doing less dancing to home-made synthesisers – but what about the bigger picture? Well, without getting too carried away, the news overall looks – touch wood and throw salt over your left shoulder – pretty good.

Of 102 consumer magazine sectors, 57 showed growth in the last six months of 2002.

And the all-sectors total shows an aggregate average circulation figure of almost 79 million copies, up 3.2 per cent on the same figure the year before. In 2000, the comparable figure was 64 million. That’s a 20 per cent rise in magazine circulation in just three years.

Meanwhile, Nielsen Media Research has found a 12 per cent rise in consumer magazine advertising spending over the second half of last year.

Add to that the decision by IPC – the country’s biggest magazine publisher – to invest £2m in a launch factory headed by Mike Soutar and you have a picture that may not be rudely healthy but is definitely far from gloomy.

Now, where’s that lucky rabbit’s foot?

Tale of two watchdogs

Of all the submissions pouring into Gerald Kaufman’s select committee investigation into media intrusion, few strike more of a chord than that of Geoff Elliott.

Uniquely placed to compare the voluntary workings of the Press Complaints Commission and the statutory set-up of the Broadcasting Standards Commission – he has sat on both – Elliott paints a telling picture. The former, which has full support of those it polices, brings swift results and encourages conciliation between parties. The latter, imposed upon those it polices, is an adversarial process which takes months to resolve even cut-and-dried cases.

Mr Kaufman please take note.

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