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Bauer's 'In Touch,' 'Life & Style' Cut Rate Base

Both had sharp newsstand sale declines
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Bauer Publishing doesn’t have too much to be thankful for this year. A day before the Thanksgiving holiday, the celebrity weekly publisher dropped the news that it would reduce the rate base for its low-priced magazines In Touch and Life & Style, citing soft newsstand sales brought on by the tough economy.

In Touch will go to 650,000 from 800,000 while Life & Style will go to 400,000 from 450,000, starting in January.

Newsstand sales have been down across the board, but Bauer feels the pressure more than most because most of its circulation comes from single-copy sales. In the first half of 2011, In Touch’s total average circulation fell 15.7 percent to 682,634, far short of the 800,000 it guarantees advertisers, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Life & Style also missed its rate base in the first half when its circ fell 21.8 percent to 344,113.

For the industry overall, newsstand sales fell 9 percent year over year in the first half, and the second half is trending down, too. Since celebrity weeklies account for such a large portion of all newsstand sales, their results were a big contributing factor. Us Weekly’s single copy was down 16.9 percent in the first half and People, 10.5 percent. OK! Weekly was off 21.3 percent, a factor in its decision to cut its rate base 22 percent to 625,000.

Bauer had been testing $1.99 cover prices in New England for the magazines, currently $2.99, and it claimed to be seeing a positive lift in sales. The company has abandoned that idea, though, perhaps considering that any sales lift could come at the expense of lower revenue. "We decided it was not worth it," said Ian Scott, Bauer Media Group president.