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Ladies' Home Journal ending subscriptions, magazine goes newsstand-only due to ad decline

Meredith Corp. is ending subscription service for "Ladies' Home Journal," one of the nation's oldest women's magazines, due to declining advertiser interest.

The magazine, launched in 1883, remains popular today with a circulation of 3.2 million, according to Meredith. But with a median reader age of 57, it faces tough competition for advertisers amid a sea of other women's magazines that appeal to a broader demographic. Its advertising pages fell nearly 17 per cent last year, while ad revenue dropped 14 per cent to $152.3 million.

Meredith spokesman Art Slusark said Thursday said that the magazine's July edition will be its final issue sent to subscribers. After that, the magazine will go from publishing 10 times per year to a quarterly format, available only at newsstands. It will also have a website.

"It's an advertising issue, not a brand issue," Slusark said. "It's a strong brand. It has a good following."

The media landscape is constantly changing, but Thursday's announcement marks a major shift for a well-established brand.

"Ladies' Home Journal" is one of the original "seven sisters" of women's magazines, a coterie of publications that graced U.S. coffee tables for decades. All but one are still standing — "McCall's" ceased publication in 2002.

Meredith owns several of those sister titles: "Better Homes and Gardens" and "Family Circle." It acquired "Ladies' Home Journal" in 1986.

But they all face competition from newer magazines such as "Real Simple" that appeal more to younger readers, as well as titles like "More" that are specifically aimed at an older reader.

Competition is stiff for advertising. The Association of Magazine Media, an industry group, found that overall print advertising revenue increased 1 per cent in 2013, while the number of ad pages fell 4 per cent. This follows an 8 per cent decline in ad pages and an advertising revenue loss of 3 per cent in 2012.

Meredith said that 35 staff in New York will be laid off as a result of this move, but it may hire more staff for the revamped magazine at its Des Moines, Iowa headquarters. It has roughly 3,300 employees nationwide.

The company will try to shift subscribers and advertisers to one of its other women's magazines.

Meredith has 20 subscription magazines and produces 125 special-interest publications issues. It also owns or operates 14 television stations.

The company said Thursday that it took an $8.5 million charge for severance costs and a $9.3 million write-down for the value of "Ladies' Home Journal" in its most recent quarter.

Meredith made a similar move in 2009 when it shifted its "Country Homes" magazine from a subscription to a special-interest publication. The magazine, which Meredith says is profitable, appears quarterly at newsstands.

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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