Boating Titles Swamped by Luxury Tax

By Hyder, Zakia | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, September 1, 1991 | Go to article overview

Boating Titles Swamped by Luxury Tax


Hyder, Zakia, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


The 10 percent Federal excise tax on luxury purchases enacted in january has turned the tide against boating magazines.

"Ad space is down dramatically in the first six months of 1991, as compared to the same months last year," says Chris Donahower, publisher of Cahners' Motoryacht International and Power and motoryacht. "While I cannot blame this entirely on the tax, it is surely the primary factor here. Due to it, boating companies are suffering, consumer spending is down, and so are our ad pages. "

According to a survey of the largest boat dealers in Connecticut, conducted by the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA), sales of boats costing $100,000 or more have fallen 93 percent, from $7.879 million in 1990 to $ 545,000 for the same period this year. Nationwide, more than 19,000 people have been put out of work at boat making plants.

In turn, the tax has caused Cahners' boating titles to drift. Motoryacht International, with a worldwide circulation of 100,000 and a current frequency of six issues per year, will become an annual in 1992. Also, Motorboat ceased publication with its July issue after having skipped two issues earlier this year. The title's subscription assets and liabilities have been sold to Atlanta-based Boating World, previously titled Boating Journal. (The idea of relaunching Motorboat as an annual is being discussed, says a company spokeswoman.)

To counteract the impact of the tax on ad sales, Cahners is offering added value wherever possible. "We tell advertisers, You buy an ad page and you'll get help with your direct mail, or you can get some kind of free access to our readers-things like that," says Donahower.

"The tax has changed things considerably," agrees Peter McHeffey, advertising director of Hearst's Motor Boating & Sailing. According to the Patterson Advertising Reports, Motor Boating & Sailing has suffered a drop of more than 200 ad pages this year, declining from 915. …

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