Youth magazines find going tough

There are signs of tension in the teen and pre-teen sectors in advance of next month's ABCs with one title suspending publication and others tackling the dwindling market by altering their editorial mix.

Brat, an attempt at a unisex publication based in Belfast, has postponed publication until after the summer, citing difficulties with distribution, advertising and not "getting the mixture quite right". The magazine, edited by NME writer Paul McNamee, targeted mid-teens with separate boys and girls sections, and posted a first ABC figure of more than 8,750 in Ireland with plans to go UK wide this year.

Globalclub, a youth organisation based in Northern Ireland, launched the title. Director Neil O'Brien admitted "we were youth experts, but not publishing experts". He would not comment on staffing levels on the title while restructuring was under way.

Meanwhile, BBC Magazines has repositioned its pre-teen title It's Hot! with a more lifestyle focus after up-to-theminute news and gossip from the internet and weekly titles encroached on its monthly pop and entertainment mix.

Duncan Gray, associate publisher of the BBC's teen magazines group, said the changes were based on reader research rather than ABC figures, which fell 36.7 per cent year on year to 64,321.

But he admitted that competition had forced the title to rethink its strategy.

Gray said: "Readers' thirst for celebrity is being served in a number of other areas in a newsy instant way, but we are confident we can turn this to our advantage with It's Hot! and a more features-led magazine. Celebrity gossip is huge but if it's a monthly it's going to be problematic to compete."

He added that the group "would be very disappointed with falls" in the next ABCs and that it was looking to remain stable or increase sales on both its titles in the sector.

Further falls are predicted in a shrinking market. IPC offloaded Mizz to Panini this year and says it has no plans to increase the twice yearly frequency of its only other youth title, Teen Now, a spinoff of showbiz weekly, Now.

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