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PC Magazine to make comeback

Anonymous backer from Dubai makes magazine first of those that ceased publishing to return to the market.

The Middle East edition of PC Magazine, one of more than a dozen titles to fold amid a grim winter and spring for the UAE's publishing industry, will become the first to bounce back from the recession when it relaunches next month. The US-based computer magazine had been publishing its regional edition out of Dubai for 18 years in English and 16 years in Arabic when it shut down in April after its publisher, DIT, was closed by its Saudi-based parent company, the Dabbagh Group.

The new version of the magazine will be created by the same editorial team as before. They have launched a new publishing company called Altus Publishing Group with the help of an anonymous Dubai-based backer. "It will be very different, very new," said Chris Fernando, the managing editor of the magazine. "The entire magazine has been redesigned. PC Magazine the world over is known as an IT enthusiast magazine for the kind of people who buy and build their own PCs. But in this market, people don't have time for building their own PCs, they just go out and buy what's on the shelf. So we are putting a consumer twist to it."

PC Magazine was founded in 1982 and today is owned by Ziff Davis Media in New York, which exports its brands to 45 countries in 13 languages. Last year, Ziff Davis went through bankruptcy proceedings and announced in November PC Magazine would be produced in electronic format only in the US. Altus Publishing acquired the licence from Ziff Davis to publish PC Magazine in the MENA region, and plans to launch several other Ziff Davis titles in coming months.

While the print magazine's prospects were brighter in MENA markets, the financial crisis hit the UAE's publishing industry hard, slashing advertising sales and forcing many magazines to close. Across the region, advertising spending in magazines was down 8 per cent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, according to the Pan Arab Research Centre. The relaunched magazine, armed with the subscriber list of its predecessor, will start with a circulation of 60,000, of which 60 per cent will be Arabic editions.

It will be accompanied by a relaunched website, which Mr Fernando said was drawing more interest from advertisers than the old one. "We already have two confirmations and it's picking up. It's not how it used to be." khagey@thenational.ae

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