EMAP letter of support for its magazines ‘a sign of panic’

FHMEMAP has written a letter to press buyers pledging its support for all its magazine titles, despite the imminent sell-off of its magazine portfolio and a few possible closures. The move is being seen as a “sign of panic” by some buyers.

The letter, sent out by EMAP’s head of trading Jason Trout, has targeted the big London media agencies saying the publisher continues to fully support its brands.

One buyer says “the letter was needless” and EMAP is trying to allay unease over the protracted sell-off of its magazine titles, which has caused unrest with advertisers.

But Trout claims there is “nothing unusual” about the letter and it has been written solely to register support from media buyers.

A number of EMAP consumer titles have suffered in the recent depressed advertising market. Men’s monthly title Arena was recently relaunched in a bid to turn around the fortunes of a title which has lost 23% of its readers in the last year.

The latest Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) figures reveal EMAP’s NW (New Woman) circulation plummeted nearly 43% to 126,805 between June 2006 and June 2007.

The circulation of FHM, another of its men’s monthly titles, has also suffered. It fell over 25% year on year to 311,590, while men’s weekly lifestyle magazine Zoo’s circulation fell over 18% year on year to 186,732. However, others, like Kerrang, have witnessed year-on-year increases in circulation.

EMAP is in the throes of selling off its business. Its business publishing division is valued at around £1.3bn, consumer magazines between £600m and £700m and its broadcasting assets at around £400m.

Publishing giant Hearst is understood to be interested in the consumer division.