In Touch and Life & Style Cut Circ as Celeb Weeklies Suffer Newsstand Pain

Category Has Been Eroding Since Circulation Peak in 2007

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Two more celebrity weeklies, In Touch Weekly and Life & Style, are cutting their circulation guarantees amid a brutal newsstand environment for magazines and a glut of celebrity news coverage.

In Touch is reducing its guarantee by 18.8%, to 650,000 from 800,000, while sibling Life & Style is reducing its guarantee by 11.1%, to 400,000 from 450,000.

Wenner Media's Us Weekly added 50,000 copies to its rate base last January, a 2.6% increase to 1.95 million, while category-leader People has been holding steady at 3.45 million, but the category has generally been trending the other way since its circulation peaked in 2007.

In Touch and Life & Style's cuts, effective in January, follow American Media's decision this year to cut the rate base at OK magazine by 21.9%, to 625,000 from 800,000. The company is cutting OK's guarantee to 500,000 in January.

Celebrity weeklies continue to comprise 5 of the top 25 biggest magazines by newsstand sales, but they all suffered larger newsstand drops than the industry as a whole in the first half of the year. People fared the best with a 10.5% newsstand decline in the first half, compared with a 9.2% loss for all magazines reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in time for its first-half roundup. Single-copy sales declines averaged 22 .3% at Life & Style, 21.3% at OK, 16.7% at Star, 16% at In Touch and 16.9% at Us Weekly.

Publishers blame a variety of factors for the long-term decline in magazines' newsstand sales. The weak economy has consumers budgeting and cutting down on checkout-aisle impulse buys. High gas prices have encouraged fewer trips to the store. And of course competition from other media has loosened magazines' grip on readers.

In Touch and Life & Style, which are published by Bauer Media Group, are more exposed than the others because they get more of their circulation from newsstands and less from subscribers.

Bauer said it will reduce the pair's ad rates along with circulation. "Our rate base adjustments moving into 2012 reflect natural consumer demand," said Ian Scott, president of Bauer Media Group, in a statement on Wednesday. "Rather than pumping up our circulation with off-price subscriptions we are reducing our rate-base guarantees and charging less, giving advertisers the best value in the category."

American Media, which has reduced Star's rate base a number of times and immediately cut OK's circulation when it acquired the title this summer, has announced plans for a different kind of celebrity weekly that it hopes will counter the headwinds: Reality Weekly, about reality show stars, due out in January. It will sell for a budget price of $1.79.

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