One fifth of print titles gone
According to new stats, almost 200 print titles have disappeared GCC in under a year. Kipp takes a look at an industry that may never recover.
July 27, 2010 5:50 by Sam Potter
New figures reveal that one fifth of all print titles operating in the Gulf have shut down in the past year.
And the National reports that the declines, seen since the height of the global economic crisis last year, might not be over – analysts are warning that the industry could face a further reduction in advertising revenue.
According to the figures from MediaSource, since the start of 2009, 171 Gulf-based magazines and 11 newspapers have either suspended or discontinued publication, with the UAE being hit the hardest.
“The vast majority of magazine closures have been UAE-based titles, while newspaper closures have occurred in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. A small number of these titles have switched from print to solely publishing online but the vast majority have just closed down altogether,” said Ben Smalley, the managing director of MediaSource.
According to the National, titles that have closed down or been suspended include: Retail News Middle East, Viva Girl and Arabian Property (published by ITP); Insider, Media Week and IQ magazines (published by ENG Media); and the Emirates Business 24/7 newspaper, which the government-owned publisher Dubai Media Incorporated relaunched as an online-only title. Kipp reported the woes of various publishers only a few weeks ago.
“Pre-credit crunch, UAE publishers couldn’t launch magazines fast enough to absorb the amount of advertising that was coming their way. A new title was being launched practically every other day,” said Smalley. “It didn’t seem to matter whether there was reader-demand for the titles and often scant regard for editorial quality – magazines were being launched just to soak up advertising. But, as soon as the advertising dried up, these were the first to fold.”
Many analysts make the point that this isn’t just a temporary downturn in the market – it’s a permanent change in the industry.
As Jayant Bhargava, a principal at the consultancy Booz & Company told the National: “It’s not just the recession, it’s the shift to digital. As the internet penetration [in the Middle East] keeps growing, you’re going to see more advertising revenue shift from print to digital.”