ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - IPC’s Music and Sport arm faces uphill struggle amid persistent sell-off rumours

IPC’s Music and Sport division was last week hit by the resignation of its managing director Andy McDuff and has subsequently been forced to deny rumours that the stable might be up for sale.

IPC’s Music and Sport division was last week hit by the resignation

of its managing director Andy McDuff and has subsequently been forced to

deny rumours that the stable might be up for sale.

McDuff’s resignation follows hot on the heels of two other senior

departures at the group’s flagship title Loaded. Editor Tim Southwell

and publisher Adrian Pettett recently announced plans to join an

internet start-up.

The brain drain at Music and Sport follows a period of relatively poor

circulation figures across the portfolio. Loaded, once the

standard-bearer of ’new laddism’, is now bearing the brunt of some

overcrowding in what appears to have become a ’mature’ sector.

According to the latest ABCs, Loaded lost 85,000 copy sales year on year

for the July-December 1999 period. Rival titles like Emap’s FHM and

Dennis’s Maxim also slipped but Loaded was hit the hardest.

At the same time, IPC’s key music weeklies, NME and Melody Maker, have

both suffered a relentless slide throughout the 90s. Melody Maker has

fallen from sales of 70,000 in 1990 to just over 30,000 in the latest

ABC audit.

IPC recently overhauled the title to target a younger pop


NME, while retaining its indie edge, has seen its circulation fall from

118,000 to 76,000 over the last ten years. The company’s dance music

monthly Muzik held its circulation at 44,000 in the latest audit, and

Uncut, which covers music and film, is also looking healthy.

Meanwhile, Q, Mojo and Mixmag - the monthly music titles from rival Emap

- all increased their circulations year on year.

The IPC division has succeeded in taking its key titles onto the web,

with and both doing well, but that will not stop

rumours that Music and Sport will be offloaded to provide funds for the

burgeoning new-media arm IPC Electric, which has also suffered from the

departure of key staff.

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Photograph (omitted)

It might sound nerdy, but these days New Scientist looks positively

cool - like Wallpaper with enzymes - and its website is even


The home page is neat and compelling, with plenty of tempting headlines

containing words such as ’slime’, ’alcohol’ and ’T-Rex’, all of which

are enough to make your average overgrown teenager (ie bloke) reach

enthusiastically for his mouse.

There seem to be almost too many features to choose from and many of

them are perhaps over-long. However, one of the great things about the

net is that if you are bored, you can click away without worrying that

you’ve blown your pocket money.

And there is plenty to keep you occupied. For instance, did you know

that the tendency of people to choose occupations that suit their

surnames is called ’nominative determinism’? You might want to run that

one by your dentist, Dr Pain.

Even more interestingly, did you know that the term ’beer gut’ is a

misnomer? Apparently, that spare tyre around your waist might not be

linked to alcohol at all - it’s just ’fat carried where men carry it

best’, according to the New Scientist boffins. In fact, research has

shown that many people who drink moderate amounts of beer or wine weigh

no more than teetotallers. Good news, eh?

Of course, if you want to find out how the plankton that lives off the

coast of Chile is helping to tackle global warming - or how dolphins

avoid the bends - you’ll have to check out the site yourself.

Advertising consists mainly of jobs, a market that New Scientist’s

Publisher Reed Business Information seems to have covered well with its brand. It has a phalanx of inhouse sales people standing

by ready to take those science job ads, with rates starting at around

pounds 25-pounds 30.


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