03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Dennis: "It's A Long, Slow Sunset For Ink-On-Paper Magazines"

This week bankers have a perfect excuse to pore over pictures of scantily clad models, fast cars and film stars: Emap, a British media firm that straddles consumer magazines, radio and trade exhibitions, is up for sale, and bids are due by early October. Emap has 50 magazine titles, which produced revenues of £408m ($773m) in the year to March 2007, and its sale will attract international attention. Foreign publishers are expected to bid, as are private-equity firms. The outcome will be a timely judgment on the prospects for consumer-magazine publishers in the developed world.

In America and Europe magazine publishers have a common lament: total circulation is either flat or declining slightly as people devote more time to the internet, and an ever greater share of advertising spending is going online. Magazine units are mostly a drag on growth for their parents. Time Inc, the world's biggest magazine company, has to fend off rumours that its parent, Time Warner, will sell it. People in the industry expect that Time Warner will soon sell IPC Media, its British magazine subsidiary. In Germany publishers reckon that Bertelsmann, a media conglomerate, may sell Gruner + Jahr, its magazine unit, when its new chief executive takes over in January 2008.

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