BBC Magazines puts launch on ice

BBC Magazines has delayed plans for the launch of a weekly news magazine following a negative response from media buyers about its potential for advertising.

Sources say the BBC had planned to launch Newsbrief, the working title for the subscription-only magazine, in June but it is understood this date has now been put back indefinitely following conversations with media agencies.

One insider says: “Even with the BBC brand, it is going to be a struggle to get the product going. It is a very tough ad market at the moment and competitors like The Economist and The Spectator have very loyal readerships.”

The magazine sector has already witnessed one high-profile casualty this year, with So London, the upmarket weekly magazine, folding after just two issues as it struggled to get advertising support.

It is thought that the BBC will go ahead with the launch later this year despite concerns about competing with other titles such as Dennis Publishing’s The Week in a depressed advertising market.

Newsbrief will be positioned as a news magazine but will also have comment on a range of issues such as science and history and is expected to be linked to the BBC’s news programmes such as Newsnight and Panorama.

The BBC’s decision to opt for a subscription-only model was praised by media buyers. One says: “This is a very good move. It will mean it does not have to price promote and it has a guaranteed income.”

BBC Magazines is known to have wanted to launch a news-based magazine since the mid-1990s but has failed to get the project off the ground. The BBC says the project has yet to be approved for launch.

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