Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Txt U L8r

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Txt U L8r

Article excerpt

Byline: RUTH ADDICOTT

On the streets of London, a teenager's status can be measured by the number of "minutes" he owns. Chatting and instant messaging on a mobile are at the center of teen social life. Consequently, acquiring the sleekest new multifunctional marvel and outfitting it with all the latest options has become a national teen obsession.

The good news is that this phenomenon has created new ad categories. Service providers are hawking everything from personalized ring tones (a favorite pop hit or film soundtrack acts as the ringer) to logos (graphics that appear on the wireless screen). The bad news is that "top-up" cards (the U.K. version of mobile phone cards) are wreaking havoc on the teen magazine market.

"Circulations have definitely come down across the market since 1997," says Alfie Lewis, publisher of teen magazines at British Broadcasting Corporation, which publishes Top of the Pops. "I don't think there is a kid in the country now who wants a mobile phone but hasn't got one.

"What really hurt us was that they'd buy their top-up card from the same place they would buy a magazine, so although they go in there with the intention of buying a magazine, they might think, oh, no, I really should spend my money on a top-up card."

Seven out of the nine teen titles measured by the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported a decline in December 2002. Market leader Sugar fell 16.6 percent, to 321,258; J17 was down 20.5 percent, to 143,308; and Smash Hits slipped 10. …

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