American Magazine Conference 2007

MPA's Kliger Takes Swipe at Brownridge During Speech

Outgoing Chairman Says Mags That Don't Join His Group Get 'Free Ride'

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Jack Kliger used his final speech as chairman of the Magazine Publishers of America on Monday to hit back -- and not very obliquely at that -- at Kent Brownridge, who has declined to enter Alpha Media Group in the magazine association.
Jack Kliger: Don't be a wimp. Join the MPA.
Jack Kliger: Don't be a wimp. Join the MPA. Credit: Doug Goodman

Brownridge's 'sabbatical'
"We have respectfully informed the MPA that we will take a one-year 'sabbatical' with respect to membership," Mr. Brownridge said in September. "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 said then. Wenner Media, where Mr. Brownridge was Jann Wenner's longtime No. 2 until January 2006, is a famous abstainer from MPA membership.

Mr. Brownridge later introduced wimpiness into the conversation, referring to some publishers' concerns about reporting their sales figures more quickly or guaranteeing the circulation of each issue -- instead of promising sales averaged across issues -- as "pathetic and wimpy."

Since that time, all the big magazine publishers have committed to the Audit Bureau of Circulations' Rapid Report system and many have decided to provide issue-specific guarantees.

Free rides for wimps
Mr. Kliger, addressing the general session of this year's American Magazine Conference, went out of his way to deride publishers that don't support the MPA's work with membership dues for getting a "free ride."

"I would add that to the definition of being a wimp," he went on, to some laughter from the audience.

Reached in New York afterward, an Alpha spokeswoman declined to comment.

Mr. Kliger, president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., spent most of his talk describing the industry's accomplishments during his term as association chairman -- citing postal reform, moves toward improved metrics and generally giving the industry the tools to get a seat "at the big table."

John Q. Griffin, president of the magazine group at National Geographic, was named the new chairman of the MPA.
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