Doubts Over Future Of NME

American magazines supremo Jack Griffin’s sudden departure from Time Warner raises fresh questions over the future of its British publishing arm, which includes New Musical Express.

Griffin, who was on the job for only five months, was apparently ousted because his leadership style and approach “did not mesh with Time Inc and Time Warner.”

Griffin was head of Time Warner subsidiary Time Inc. His departure will likely produce more speculation that Time Inc may be ready to break up or sell IPC, the British publisher that has 60 titles including NME, Marie Claire, Country Life, Horse & Hound and Nuts.

Time Warner has reportedly started a strategic review of London-based IPC, which last year sold lads mag Loaded and 20 other specialist magazines considered to be non-essential and underperforming titles.

NME’s position is hardly improved by the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for the second half of 2010, which show it’s lost 16.4 percent of its readership over the last year.

Most music and men’s magazines are having a torrid time but NME’s double-digit drop in circulation shows it’s faring much worse.
It’s selling 32,166 copies per week compared with the 56,284 it was selling in 2008.

Mojo, the UK’s best-selling music magazine and another Bauer Media title, was the only one in the sector to show a period-on-period rise, with circulation up 3.2 percent to 94,617.

Another Bauer music monthly, Q, held the second spot with circulation of 88,240, down 6.9 percent year on year but 1.4 percent up on the previous six months.

IPC Media’s Uncut held on to third place among the paid-for rock music titles with sales down 2 percent period on period to 72,586, a 3.9 percent fall.

Future Publishing’s Classic Rock is within 5,000 copies of third place with 67,695, down 3.7 percent period on period and 5 percent year on year. Stablemate Metal Hammer had a small year-on-year circulation rise of 0.1 percent to 41,826, a 5 percent fall compared with the first six months of 2010.

Bauer’s Kerrang! moved above Metal Hammer to take fifth spot with a 4.5 percent rise in year-on-year circulation to 42,967.

The music mag with the most readers is Channelfly Enterprises’ free music monthly The Fly, although its average distribution of 107,771 is still down 4 percent on last year.