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Hearst Magazines resigned from Publishers Information Bureau May 1 in protest over a decision to allow archrival Conde Nast Publications to count 507 ad pages from a recent personal-finance supplement.

The surprise move is the latest maneuver in an ongoing, often heated battle between the two magazine giants and their high-profile presidents.

Conde Nast executives on April 30 presented their case to the PIB Council, which voted 5-3 in favor of the publishing giant. PIB's Advisory Committee had earlier ruled Conde Nast could not add the pages from Currency to its tally because it did not properly label the supplement (AA, April 20).


While Hearst's disappointment with the decision is not surprising, its decision to pull out of PIB came as a shock since the company is actively involved in the industry's trade associations.

Hearst Magazines President Cathleen P. Black, in a statement drawn up for Advertising Age, said: "Hearst Magazines strongly believes that the rule be clarified regarding the counting of sup-plement advertising pages. We question the validity of the page counts now produced by the Publishers Information Bureau.

"While the revenue information has always been in question, it now seems that the total ad page counts have become meaningless," said Ms. Black, who’s also vice chairman of Magazine Publishers of America and is slated to become chairman in 1999. ‘‘We do not believe in gaming the system to manipulate ad page counts. We have every expectation that PIB will rectify this situation, but until this issue is resolved, we effectively resign from PIB.’’

Conde Nast President-CEO Steve Florio said he was ‘‘shocked and saddened that Hearst would diminish one of our most important industry organizations by resigning. I’m sure when they all calm down they will see the folly of this and reconsider their decision.’’

Mr. Florio had earlier said of the PIB Council decision: ‘‘We were dealt with fairly in the end.’’


MPA President Donal d Kummerfeld called Hearst’s decision ‘‘unfortunate,’’ noting the PIB Council as part of the Conde Nast ruling cited the need to develop a consistent set of rules for supplements and other line extensions.

‘‘In view of the fact that we have already begun to do what Hearst is urging us to do and we see the need to redraft the rules, it is unfortunate that Hearst felt they had to resign to induce the Council to do it,’’ Mr. Kummerfeld said.

MPA’s board oversees PIB, the industry’s leading source of information on magazine ad pages and revenue. Each member magazine pays a fee to be tracked by PIB; how much Hearst spends on the service is not known.

Robert Brink, Hearst Magazines exec VP-group publisher, resigned as chairman of the PIB Council as part of the Hearst move. He said Hearst would stop sending ad information for its magazines to PIB effective with its May issues.

Hearst, which will retain its MPA membership, publishes such titles as Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Esquire and Harper’s Bazaar.

‘‘I think there is going to be a consensus that these rules do have to be amended and changed,’’ Mr. Brink said. ‘‘It’s a charade.’’


The problem Conde Nast encountered was related to a PIB rule requiring the name of a host title to appear on the cover of a supplement. But the rule was mean

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