Emap moots free men's title launch

Emap is understood to be considering the launch of a free men's magazine as part of a shake-up of its beleaguered men's magazines division.

Senior Emap executives are approaching media buyers to gauge their reactions and opinions to recently launched free titles such as Sport.

The independent publisher Sport Media & Strategy launched Sport in September 2005 to target ABC1 men aged 18 to 40. It hand-distributes around 321,893 copies per week across London.

One press buyer noted that several other publishers were looking at the potential for the sector, but expressed concern over the longevity of free magazines and papers, particularly in the wake of allegations concerning the dumping of freesheets in the capital.

He said: "The success of online titles such as (Dennis Publishing's) Monkey and the launch of (The National Magazine Company's women's magazine) Jellyfish confirms the interest of free titles. But people are questioning the effect of distribution methods on the titles' value and costs."

Publishers across the board are suffering from falling circulation of men's magazines. Sales of the Emap titles FHM, Zoo and Arena fell by more than 21 per cent year on year in the second half of 2006.

An Emap spokeswoman said the publisher was looking at several sectors, but denied any launch was planned.