Publishers Information Bureau: Biz mags on the rebound

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A gradually strengthening advertising environment helped magazine ad pages rise 3.1% in June, which brought first-half ad-page results into positive territory-albeit barely. The 231 consumer magazines audited by Publishers Information Bureau collectively posted a 0.5% ad page gain over the first half of '03.

Bounce-backs are well under way at the big-three business titles, with Forbes and Time Inc.'s Fortune up double-digits and McGraw-Hill Cos.' Business Week up 9.4%. But Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Fast Company saw pages fall 26.7%. (Its sibling title Inc. fared better.) Rosy results returned to the biggest travel titles, which were slammed by travel pullback in the wake of Sept. 11: Conde Nast Traveler was up 13.3%, and American Express Publishing Corp.'s Travel & Leisure was up 3.8%.

No such comebacks are under way, though, for red-flagged titles like Martha Stewart Living and G&J's YM. The former, reeling from the legal woes of its founder, posted a first half decline of 41.8%, and the latter, caught last year overstating its newsstand sales, fell 46.4%. The other largest teen titles took significant hits, too, with Hearst Magazines' Seventeen down 14.6% and Time Inc.'s Teen People down 8.5%.

The happiest place to be remains in the sweet spot of new-style women's magazines. Time Inc.'s Real Simple and Hearst's O, The Oprah Magazine were both up double-digits, and Conde Nast's pioneering shopping title Lucky was up 7.6%.

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