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July 15, 2004updated 17 May 2007 11:30am

Broke music magazine ready to bite the Bullit

By Press Gazette

Bullit: ‘probably going to close’

Independent music magazine Bullit was on the brink of closure this week unless a new backer emerged at the 11th hour.

Founding editor and publisher Steve Janes met investors in a lastditch attempt to save the magazine, which has been hit by disappointing ad revenue, sales and distribution problems.

A closure would leave several staff and freelances out of pocket, many of whom have been waiting since January to be paid in the hope that things would improve.

Four ex-staff took Bullit’s publisher New Standard Publishing to an employment tribunal last month and were awarded costs of almost £15,000 for unpaid wages. They are still awaiting payment. A group of 20 freelances claim they are owed £10,000 between them and design company Quick Printing is owed £1,700.

Janes said the magazine needed £50,000 to survive. “If I was walking into a bank and launching another magazine, I’d say you need half a million.

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You need that kind of capital. We spent more than £250,000 – that wasn’t enough. It is probably going to close. I don’t think it is feasible without investment,” he told Press Gazette.

The unpaid debts have caused a lot of bitterness between journalists and the company. Fiona Hardy, a freelance who is owed £200, claimed there was “no expense spared” to get journalists on board at the outset. Freelance Charlie Ivens claimed he was threatened with legal action if he spoke to the press about the problems. He is owed £1,300. Another freelance, Tim Wild, who is owed £550, said journalists were “furious”.

While the biggest problem was the lack of advertising, Janes said the title had also come under pressure from WH Smith to spend an extra £50,000 on in-store promotion.

He apologised to journalists this week, adding: “It has cost me a lot as well as them and I sense their frustration and sense of loss. Unfortunately, I have done everything I could possibly do. I have tried my best. I don’t feel good about it. I’m still waiting for an 11th-hour rescue, but the pragmatic part of me just says no, it’s going to close.”

The fourth issue of Bullit is currently at the printer, but is likely never to see the light of day.

While he was not optimistic about the future of Bullit, Janes said he had not been put off publishing and was considering the remote possibility of setting up a different company to produce one-off titles instead.

By Ruth Addicott

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