'Scapegoated' Front to tone down covers

The editor of lads' monthly Front has said he is relaunching the magazine after being made a "scapegoat" for bigger titles by supermarkets.

Johnny Sharp said the SMD Publishing title would tone down its covers, remove references to pornography and group all its female photoshoots in a central section.

But he complained that market-leading magazines get away with raunchier covers.

Sharp said: "I think to a certain extent it is one rule for magazines such as Front, because we are not the market leader, and another for the likes of Zoo and Nuts.

"They sell so many copies that they can literally do what they want. We object to the hypocrisy of it all.

"If you sell a lot of copies they turn a blind eye; if you are not a market leader they will make a scapegoat of you. Zoo and Nuts get away with more revealing photoshoots and stuff on their cover than we do."

The latest Front is sealed and themed "the porn issue". The title has, for the past year, had to show its copies to supermarkets for approval prior to publication, after some pulled an issue last summer because the cover was deemed too explicit.

Sharp denied that the move was in response to the recent early day motion in Parliament, lodged by Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas, to keep explicit magazines out of the reach of children.

Sharp said: "It is not because of the threats to put us on the top shelf or anything.

It doesn't affect us too much, because we don't think it would actually happen, and because we tend to not necessarily get put on the bottom shelf, we tend to be put on fairly high shelving anyway, so that is not a major problem for us.

"In the past year we had problems with the supermarkets, and obviously they are increasingly big players when it comes to [magazine] retailing.

"We came to an agreement with them that we need to make the covers more suggestive rather than salacious.

"If we are going to be sold in a more family environment we can't really expect to have the same kind of covers that we did before.

"We are prepared to compromise and obviously if they still think that it is not suitable for putting anywhere else apart from the top shelf, then we would have another conversation with them and just ask what could we do about it."

Front has successfully applied for an ABC figure.

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