TV Guide is preparing a number of new editorial initiatives to boost its circulation and ad base.
The News Corp. weekly will add more than 400 editorial pages in the next year and is introducing several new columns and features, including an inside gatefold that will also be sold to advertisers. Also on tap: more special theme issues and split-run covers; issues hitting newsstands today in the South and Southeast feature Nascar on the cover, while the rest of the country gets talk show host Conan O'Brien.
TV Guide is also talking to sister book publishing unit HarperCollins-headed by former TV Guide Editor in Chief Anthea Disney-about producing branded books on TV issues.
The initiatives come as Editor in Chief Steven Reddicliffe, closing in on his first anniversary at the helm, begins to put more of his own stamp on the nation's largest weekly.
Senior VP-Publisher Suzanne Grimes said the planned editorial moves and other recent efforts have already attracted new advertisers, including Hershey Foods Corp. and Bayer Corp.
"Direct response is off significantly, but we're looking to offset those losses with growth in other areas-from imported autos to cosmetics and haircare," she said.
Other new advertisers include Procter & Gamble Co.'s Noxzema and Vidal Sassoon, attracted by a new section called "Star Style."
TV Guide ad pages were down 6% through May compared to the same period last year, to 1,316.76. Still, Ms. Grimes predicted ad pages will rise 3% for the full year.
One of the primary missions for Mr. Reddicliffe will be to stabilize single-copy sales.
That task has been complicated by recent high-level turnover in the circulation department. Senior VP-Circulation Charles Davis left at the beginning of the year to join Disney Online. His successor, Robert Gursha, left in April after just four weeks, to rejoin Time Inc.'s Sunset. Mr. Gursha declined to comment on his short stint, though the official reason given was that his family did not want to relocate to the East Coast.
But executives close to Mr. Gursha said he clashed with News America Publishing President-CEO Paul Carlucci. The top circulation job is still open.
TV Guide cut its rate base 7% to 13 million on July 1, 1995, citing postage and paper increases. The falloff in single-copy sales in the second half of '95 was 11.9%, dipping to 4.49 million out of the average weekly paid circulation of 13.1 million for the six months ended Dec. 31, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Mr. Reddicliffe said the second-half decline was due primarily to an 11.2% cover price jump to 99 cents earlier in the year. "The falloff was budgeted in '95," he said, "but we want to do extremely well on the newsstand and keep the number stable in '96."