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Updated: Meredith Folds Country Home

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Bowing to housing market pressures that have already claimed a handful of shelter titles in the past year, Meredith Corp. said it would close Country Home with the March 2009 issue, citing a continuing soft economy heading into 2009.
 
Meredith announced Jan. 8 that it would take a special charge of about $16 million in its fiscal 2009 second quarter. The charge is related to a workforce reduction of about 250 people, the closing of the shelter mag and relocation of the creative functions of sister pub ReadyMade and Parents.com to the company’s home base of Des Moines, Iowa.
 
The workforce reduction affects the whole staff of Country Home and represents about 7 percent of Meredith’s 3,500 employees.

Country Home employed about 40 people. Its editor, LuAnn Brandsen, had been on the job just three months, having taken over from retiring editor Carol Sheehan.
 
News of the title’s folding wasn’t unexpected, considering Country Home’s ad pages fell 25 percent to 631 in 2008, per the Mediaweek Monitor, and that the title last year moved to cut its frequency to eight issues from 10 in 2009.
 
Country Home’s circ also revealed weakness; total paid and verified circ was essentially flat at 1.3 million in the first half of 2008, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations, but single-copy sales plummeted 17.8 percent.
 
In the past year, the squeezed housing market also has led to the demise of Time Inc.’s Cottage Living, Hearst Magazines’ O at Home and Hachette Filipacchi Media’s Home.