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Q magazine could close as result of COVID-19 prompted review at Bauer Media

By | Published on Tuesday 19 May 2020

Q Magazine

Two music titles are among ten magazines that could be closed down by the UK division of German media firm Bauer. Of those two, the higher profile is long-term music monthly Q. The magazine that accompanies Bauer-owned radio station Planet Rock – launched shortly after the media company sold rock weekly Kerrang! back in 2017 – is also on the list.

Bauer has confirmed that it is reviewing the future of both of those publications and eight other titles in its magazine portfolio, with closure, sale, merger or a shift to digital-only publication all being considered as possible options.

The magazine business – and music magazines in particular – have been in a challenging position for years. Print sales of most magazines have long been in decline. And while some of those magazines may now have more readers via their digital channels than they ever did in print, monetising journalism online is incredibly difficult.

Only really business titles and broadsheet newspapers have so far persuaded people to pay to access written content online. Meanwhile, so much internet advertising spend goes to the likes of Google and Facebook, there’s relatively little left for all the newspaper and magazine owners to fight over. Therefore funding an online magazine from advertising alone generally requires incredibly high numbers of readers, way more than most magazines will ever attract.

The COVID-19 pandemic has then escalated all those challenges. Titles that still enjoy steady, if smaller, revenues from newsagent sales have been majorly affected by the shutdown of the high street. While a slump in ad spend from many brands has hit everyone – paid for and free print titles, and online media of all kinds. As a result, a number of media around the world have downsized their workforces in recent weeks, including Billboard, Vice and Buzzfeed.

Confirming a review of Q, Planet Rock and eight other magazines was underway, Bauer’s recently appointed CEO of UK Publishing, Chris Duncan, said: “The pandemic and lockdown has further accelerated the trends already affecting the publishing industry”.

He went on: “Bauer publishes nearly 100 magazines in the UK and some titles that were already challenged, unfortunately, are not expected to be sustainable after the crisis. We must protect the long-term health of our business and ability to invest in future growth by re-shaping our portfolio”.

It is not clear how many staff could be affected by any closures, sales or mergers, though Bauer says it has begun a 30 day consultation with employees which – The Guardian says – means between 20 and 99 people could be impacted by any changes.