Bauer Media axes eight magazine titles to ‘future-proof’ business

Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill in June after announcing the sale of its Australian publishing business to investment firm Mercury Capital.

Bauer Australia CEO Brendon Hill in June after announcing the sale of its Australian publishing business to investment firm Mercury Capital. Photo: AAP

Bauer Media Australia is shutting down eight brands due to the ongoing “swift and widespread” impact of COVID-19.

They are Harper’s BAZAAR Australia, ELLE Australia, InStyle, Men’s Health Australia, Women’s Health Australia, Good Health, NW and OK! Australia.

In a statement on Bauer Media website, Bauer Media CEO Brendan Hill said it had been a “challenging time for Bauer with exciting highs and devastating lows”.

“We were delighted to acquire Pacific Magazines in May and were thrilled to recently announce a new future under Mercury Capital.

“However, these positive changes have taken place amidst an unexpected, uncertain and unrelenting economic downturn.

“No one could have anticipated the swift, widespread and ongoing impact of the pandemic on our business and industry,” he said.

Bauer temporarily paused the mastheads in May due to the “significant impact of travel restrictions on transit-reliant titles such as NW and OK!“.

It also looked to the declining advertising revenue at Harper’s BAZAAR, ELLE, and InStyle, as well as Men’s and Women’s Health and Good Health resulting in a number of staff across the titles losing their jobs.

“We, like many other media companies, have deeply felt the impact of COVID-19. The reinstatement of these titles and teams was always dependent on the advertising market bouncing back and the return of domestic and international travel.

“Despite promising signs from advertisers in recent weeks, this has not outweighed the medium term outlook for these titles,” he said.

“With a second lock-down in Victoria and minimal travel, it is not feasible to sufficiently distribute NW and OK! without transit channels. The financial impact of these factors and the ongoing economic uncertainty makes the return and sustainability of these titles no longer viable.

“We have been forced to reset and future-proof the business like all of the media industry has.”

“We wanted to give direction and clarity to our staff as early as possible, rather than create further uncertainty with irregular publishing schedules.

“This is a devastating blow to those who are directly affected, the entire Bauer team and the industry as a whole.

Magazines a loss of ‘identity’

Macquarie University associate professor, consumer psychologist Jana Bowden, told The New Daily many Australian women will feel deeply about the loss of not having these “iconic establishments” in their daily lives.

“Some would say magazines are the least credible source of info, but history shows us that they sell and consumers think they’re worth reading … because we all love a good chin wag over gossip and easy to digest content.

“Magazines provide a point of social commonality, they collectively give us something to share and talk about.

“It’s a loss of cultural capital, and iconic Aussie identity.

“This isn’t [only] about the financial struggle and hardship that the publishing sector has faced over the past years – and it’s been tough –especially with the shift in consumer preference to digital.

“The collapse of these publications is also about a loss of cultural identity and social fabric in readers lives.

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