It was hardly unexpected. From the moment Future Publishing acquired the ex-IPC/ex-Time Warner/ex-TI Media owned magazines Shooting Times, The Field and a host of others, the clock began ticking on the prospects for the smaller publications in its shooting stable. And so, a few months on, comes the news that Sporting Rifle is to merge with (in other words disappear into) Shooting Times and that Clay Shooting would also vanish into the pages of Sporting Gun. A similar fate is to befall Shooting Gazette that will become part of The Field, thus bringing to an end a fairly undistinguished existence for each.
Speaking to Gun Trade News this month you might have expected Mark Winterton, MD of Future’s fieldsports titles to be putting a brave face on it, given that his empire had just diminished somewhat, but the truth is the three were adding zero to his bottom line. Not that he said so, instead we got the usual brave new world stuff. He told the magazine: “Through these mergers we will create stronger brands that will continue to serve our clients’ and audiences’ needs through the delivery of content from our expert contributors, journalists and editors”.
Really, Mark? The reality is that the titles which are to disappear will add nothing to those publications into whose embrace they will now be gathered. If they had appreciable circulations and advertising revenues, never mind the potential to grow through an online presence, then Future, the cutest publishing house in town would have wrestled every penny of opportunity from them. No, the titles were marginal from more or less day one of their publication and what we can expect is that for the next few months each of the adopters will feature a separate section flagged up with the incoming title and then once the haste no longer appears indecent, all mention of them will vanish.
GTN has announced that it will be interviewing Winterton next month. Alas, we do not expect GTN to ask him some of the questions long time trade advertisers would like to know the answer to, such as why did you take so long and exactly what were the average monthly sales of Clay Shooting, Shooting Gazette and Sporting Rifle?