Put on the rack by BBC mags

Sonoo Singh’s analysis of BBC Worldwide (MW July 12) described a company I didn’t recognise. What a lot of bollocks.

I am delighted and privileged, in a couple of weeks, to be returning from three years in the US (where I have been leading BBC Worldwide’s North and South American operations) to head the third-largest magazine publisher (by reach and revenue) – a business in terrific shape. With a portfolio of over 30 titles, many of them market leaders, and the country’s biggest magazine brand and most profitable title, Radio Times, BBC Worldwide’s magazine business is by any measure a stunning success – and long recognised as such.

BBC Worldwide’s first reorganisation in four years, follows a year of record sales, cash flows and profits, and a record number of awards for the quality of products. The company believes the changes will preserve its abilities to build cross-media brands, copied in recent years by competitors and (as you point out) while enabling it to build its media format businesses even more quickly.

The unidentified press buyer who described BBC History Magazine’s debut circulation “lacklustre”, obviously has no understanding of this niche market. Fortunately, the judges that awarded the magazine the prize of “launch of the year”, understood it better.

In BBC Worldwide’s annual satisfaction survey of agencies, it scored highly across a range of criteria. The company is always looking for ways to improve – this will be a priority of the reintegrated BBC Magazines. And this follows on from a year of record advertising revenue, which saw the company launch three innovative magazines, all of which are doing well, and major brands such as Gardener’s World and Top Gear continuing to strengthen their position.

Is this the quality of our trade press journalism? I had forgotten.

Peter Phippen

Managing director

BBC Magazines

London W12

The latest ABC figures for Gardener’s World and Top of the Pops (MW 12 July) surely speak for themselves.


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