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London Evening Standard, media column
[February 13, 2013]

London Evening Standard, media column

Feb 13, 2013 (London Evening Standard - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- GLOSSY MAGS FACE VALENTINE MASSACRE: Tomorrow is Valentine's Day but the magazine industry is already braced for some heartache as a raft of glossy titles will be forced to reveal big drops in circulation. The weekly women's celebrity market is set to be among the worst performers, with some household brands likely to report double-digit percentage falls in their six-monthly sales figures. Paid-for print titles are being hit by tough economic times and the rise of the internet as readers switch to gossip websites for celebrity news and photos. But the rise of mobile devices is also a factor, as shoppers who might make an impulse buy in the supermarket queue are now too busy looking at their smartphone.

"Flat is the new up," says one magazine executive, describing the lack of sales growth. No wonder magazine publishers are so keen to group together their print and digital sales. Until now, the two figures have been treated separately but tomorrow they will be combined for the first time -- under new rules approved by ABC, the industry body which audits circulation.

SO THE BBC'S PANORAMA has been asking awkward questions about Barclays with Monday night's show, Banking On Bonuses, examining the controversial cash injection the bank received from the Qataris in 2008. Some might ask why the fearless BBC didn't raise such questions a lot sooner. Doubtless it had nothing to do with the fact that Marcus Agius, Barclays chairman from 2006 until 2012 and the man who approved all those bankers' bonuses, just happened to be the senior non-executive director on the BBC's board until last autumn.

THE FINANCIAL TIMES is celebrating its 125th anniversary today by sending a pink hot-air balloon up over London and bathing all at its Southwark HQ in a rosy hue. More such stunts are planned, with the Pink 'Un set to light up the Empire State Building in New York. The FT recently warned it needs to make cuts and axe 25 editorial posts but it's good to know it can still afford a birthday party. Such brand-building won't do any harm as parent company Pearson mulls a possible sale of the title.

CONSOLIDATION IN THE MEDIA AND TELECOM INDUSTRY continues, after US giant Liberty Global's $23.3 billion (pounds sterling 14.9 billion) bid for British broadband and pay-TV firm Virgin Media. Now American cable provider Comcast has bought the 49 percent stake in TV and film studio giant NBC Universal which it did not already own, paying $16.9 billion to General Electric.

THE BBC AND STANHOPE have appointed the posh country house agents Strutt and Parker to market the 1000-odd flats which they propose to create within the listed Television Centre in White City. Which suggests that there won't be much room for down-at-heel types in the Shepherd's Bush-Wormwood Scrubs location.

FOR THE SECOND QUARTER IN A ROW, revenues have fallen at the UK arm of US advertising giant Omnicom, home of agencies including Abbott Mead Vickers, Adam and Eve/DDB and PR firm Portland. Fourth-quarter sales slipped 0.7 percent on a like-for-like basis, after a 0.1 percent drop in the third quarter, despite the supposed boost from the Olympics. Over the year, the UK still rose 1.5 percent to $1.26 billion (pounds sterling 804 million) at Omnicom, the world's second-largest ad group behind Britain's WPP.

___ (c)2013 London Evening Standard Visit the London Evening Standard at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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