In 1991, Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) ran an advertisement in the trade paper B&T announcing that 97 per cent, or 6 345 000, Australian women read their magazines. 1 This readership figure, from polling company Morgan, can be used to contest the argument that, because circulation figures for individual titles are falling, magazines are unimportant in the contemporary, highly diversified mass media world. Clearly, assuming the figures are accurate, this is not the case—at least for Australian women.
Indeed, Australians (and not just women) are renowned as the highest per capita consumers of magazines in the world. In the twelve months to the end of June 2000, 233 million magazines were sold in Australia (McIntyre 2000, p 13). So, far from being unimportant, magazines are both a core part of most people's media consumption practices and an integral part of the media industries in Australia. Both Kerry Packer (through ACP) and Rupert Murdoch (through Pacific) have large stables of magazines within their Australian media empires. Together they account for some 70 per cent of all Australian magazine circulation and 25 of the top 40 titles (see Table 13.1). The next largest owner of Australian magazines is Murdoch Magazines, a company owned by Rupert Murdoch's nephew Matt Handbury. This company is not part of News Limited, although they are linked through Handbury Holdings, the Murdoch family company which has the controlling interest in both. In the last five years there has been an increased presence of foreign companies: Time Inc. now has three high circulation magazines and European giant EMAP has started to operate here, most visibly with a local edition of FHM, while Reader's Digest continues to sell. A further significant part of the industry is the distributor, the intermediary between publisher and point of sale. One company dominates Australian magazine distribution—Gordon and Gotch, long owned by News Limited.