x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Car magazine driven off the road in Middle East

It's the end of the road for Car Middle East, which is being scrapped by Dubai publisher ITP.

It is the end of the road for the Middle East version of Car.Car Middle East, a monthly magazine published by ITP in Dubai, is set to shut next month.

High photography costs and licensing fees are believed to be behind the decision.

The September issue will be the last, according to senior executives at ITP, which also publishes Arabian Business and Time Out Dubai. Car Middle East is published under licence from Bauer Consumer Media, which owns Car magazine in the UK.

The title is Britain's oldest monthly motoring title, and dates to 1962. Bauer acquired Car as part of its takeover of Emap's consumer-magazine division in 2008.

ITP declined to provide an official comment when contacted by The National.

Car Middle East is the latest of several print publications to close in the region since the onset of the global downturn.

A fifth of all print publications in the GCC region closed between January 2009 and July last year, according to the data supplier MediaSource.

While closures of titles have abated this year, commentators say the magazine industry is still in decline in the wake of the economic downturn.

"The magazine industry everywhere is suffering, without exception," said Sami Raffoul, the general manager of the Pan Arab Research Center.

Mr Raffoul said sports and car magazines had been particularly hard hit by websites catering to a similar readership.

"Automotive and sports magazines have been the first casualties of the evolution of media and technology in the region," he said.

But traditional print media has also posed a challenge, since many newspapers have sections dedicated to topics such as motoring matters.

"The newspapers have taken a great deal of sports and motoring information inside their pages," said Mr Raffoul.

ITP, like many other publishers, has already closed a number of magazines as a reaction to the downturn, which led to a cut in advertising spending.

In February 2009 the publisher said it had cut 60 staff and closed nine magazines, including titles such as Retail News Middle East, Viva Girl and Arabian Property.

Despite the economic situation, local media companies have continued to enter licensing deals to publish regional editions of international titles.

Middle East editions of titles such as Cosmopolitan,Rolling Stone, Variety, National Geographic and Forbes have all launched in the past year. The costs of licensing regional editions of such titles can prove expensive, as they can involve both a licence fee and share of advertising revenues.

 

bflanagan@thenational.ae