After Mr. Brownridge and his equity backers, Quadrangle Capital Partners, bought the publisher of Maxim, Blender and Stuff last month, he immediately closed Stuff and renamed the company Alpha Media. Then he told the association to cool its heels.
"We have respectfully informed the MPA that we will take a one-year 'sabbatical' with respect to membership," Mr. Brownridge said. "This notice was necessitated by our desire to spend the coming year giving 110% to our businesses and thus no time to participate in MPA activities."
"We will reconsider membership at the end of our first year," Mr. Brownridge added, but association executives probably shouldn't hold their breath. Wenner Media, where Mr. Brownridge was Jann Wenner's longtime No. 2 until January 2006, has famously abstained from MPA membership. Mr. Brownridge said in those days that Wenner would join if the MPA "reinvigorated" itself and did more to speed up circulation measurement. It remains a nonmember.
The stance is a marked contrast to how Dennis Publishing viewed the MPA. Its president, Stephen Colvin, participated in board meetings and regularly attended the group's annual meeting, the American Magazine Conference, held every October.
The MPA still is doing far better these days than it was. It wasn't until 1998 that an association push persuaded several important publishers to rejoin the fold, including Forbes, which had quit 11 years earlier over the membership fee structure; TV Guide, which hadn't belonged for 20 years; and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., then called Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, which left for five years over fees and perceived lethargy at the group.
A spokesman for the magazine publishers association was unable to provide comment by deadline. The MPA's website says the association represents more than 240 domestic publishers with approximately 1,400 titles.