Media Lifeline: News Magazines

The News International division is attempting to play magazine publishers at their own game.

September 2005: Stung by the success of men's weeklies and women's celebrity titles in stealing tabloid readers, News International sets up a mag division. Camilla Rhodes (pictured), News Group Newspapers' managing director, is named News Magazines' chief.

February 2006: The division's first title is a "real life" women's weekly called Love It!. Backed by a £6 million launch budget, a sampler blitz in The Sunday Times and cross-promotion in The Sun and News of the World, its first issue sells 700,000. This is followed in March by the launch of insideout, an interior decor and homes monthly.

March 2006: News Magazines hires Maria Trkulja, an ex-editor of Hello!, sparking rumours that it is plotting a celebrity weekly. As Project Dannii evolves, a September launch is promised. News Magazines then hires Sandy Whetton (pictured), an ex-IPC director, as its MD.

November 2006: No women's weekly has yet appeared, but there's unexpected good news when BSkyB bins John Brown Publishing, which has published its customer magazine, Sky the Magazine, since 2002, and shifts the contract into News Magazines. Distributed to all of Sky Digital's eight million subscribers, it's officially the UK's largest-circulating magazine.

January 2007: News Magazines axes Project Dannii, making its editorial staff redundant, saying that it will concentrate on producing Sky the Magazine. Then it emerges that it is planning a weekly news, comment and analysis magazine, drawing on The Times' editorial expertise. The month ends with the closure of insideout, which had failed to match sales expectations.

Fast forward ...

May 2007: So the market is shocked when this new analysis title actually arrives. Called Sun the Magazine, it's a weekly that leans heavily towards glamour photography, football and the grotesque. Alarmed, senior editorial staff on The Sun newspaper resign en masse - mainly to join the new title.

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