Rivals call for explanation of BBC magazine policy - Press Gazette

Rivals call for explanation of BBC magazine policy

Eve : 150,000 circulation title is up for sale

The BBC’s move to ban free TV advertising plugging its own magazines has been welcomed by rival publishers – but they have demanded more clarity on the corporation’s new publishing strategy.

In Mark Thompson’s radical shake-up of the service, the BBC’s magazine arm will no longer get free advertising on licence-payers’ channels, and will be tasked with publishing only titles that relate directly to the BBC’s broadcasting output.

Award-winning women’s monthly Eve will be sold off, as well as the quarterly What To Wear . Some unconfirmed titles from the recently-acquired Origin publishing in Bristol will also go.

Publishers IPC and Emap both said the decision met with their beliefs about the role of the BBC.

IPC Media chief executive Sylvia Auton said: “IPC has always maintained that the BBC practice of granting free promotional airtime on a de facto exclusive basis was not consistent with its own Fair Trading Commitment or the EU rules on the use of state aid.

“This practice has been patently discriminatory in favour of BBC Worldwide Magazines for many years, and we welcome this commitment by the BBC to stop free trailing.

“As to the stated objective that their magazines should focus more on brands and subjects connected to the BBC’s core programmes and mission, I am not quite sure what this means.

“What I am seeking from the BBC is unambiguous and objective guidelines as to what they deem appropriate as their publishing remit.”

BBC Magazines currently publishes 30 consumer titles and sells more than 100 million copies annually.

Managers said they did not foresee any redundancies.

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC does not have a specific genre pertaining to women’s lifestyle so it feels it is not appropriate for us to continue to publish Eve .

“It’s important to emphasise that the magazine will not be closed but instead found a new home where we believe the team will be given the opportunity to maintain the magazine’s momentum as the UK’s fastest-growing women’s glossy.”

Eve currently has a circulation of about 150,000, and editor Jane Bruton won women’s magazine editor of the year at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards last month.

The spokesman said he anticipated “considerable interest” in buying Eve from a number of major publishers.

He added: “Origin publishes a number of key BBC titles such as BBC History, Wildlife and Songs of Praise very effectively.

“Where magazines do not fit with the agreed remit, we will begin the process of divesting our interest in these titles”

By Alyson Fixter