Power of celebrity falters as homes title bites dust

Celebrity Homes : lack of interest

Celebrity Homes , produced by Bath based property and lifestyle publisher Merricks Media, has closed after failing to find a buyer .

The title went up for sale in August, resulting in four redundancies, when sales fell short of the 60,000 needed to attract enough advertisers. Merricks offered some freelances a 50 per cent kill fee for work it commissioned before the closure was announced.

Freelance Linda Parker, who works for titles including House Beautiful , Country Homes and Interiors and Your Home, is pushing the company to pay her the full amount, £425, for an article she was commissioned to write.

Parker claimed: “They have treated freelances appallingly. I have never been treated like this and I have been freelancing since 1991. It was a struggle to get paid for the articles published, then we were offered 50 per cent payment for articles that were commissioned but not used.

“Over the past few weeks telephone calls and e-mails have gone unanswered, despite the fact that Merricks is still publishing other titles and actively encouraging ‘freelance publishing professionals’ to contact them via their website, while behaving in a very unprofessional way themselves”.

Some payments for work that was published have not yet been made.

Fiona McArthy had a feature published in the August issue and hasn’t yet seen her cheque for £375.

She said: “Anything that has been published should be paid for by now, but I have given up trying to get this money. Freelances are a valued resource and should be honoured with payment.”

Merricks managing director Lisa Doerr said: “This will be sorted out amicably with each individual contributor within one or two months.”

The company is advertising for freelances to work on launches as well as full-time staff. It has just launched I talian Magazine for people who holiday and buy property in the country.

The first issue is on sale on 25 November for £3.50.

By Sarah Lagan

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