Major Paper Cut: MPA Loses Hachette

cover of ELLECiting the sharp economic downturn, Hachette Filipacchi is withdrawing from the Magazine Publishers of America, one of the main industry trade organizations alongside the American Society of Magazine Editors. When membership dues are considered too onerous, it's an added blow to a battered industry.

It's especially surprising because Hachette was previously a leading player in the MPA. As chairman, Jack Kliger, the former president and CEO of Hachette, served as a highly visible leader for the MPA from 2005-2007. He used his pulpit to proselytize to publishers about the importance of digital platforms, while stressing unity in the face of competition from the Internet. A favorite Kliger theme was the need for magazine publishers to stop undercutting each other and instead present advertisers with a single message about the value of the medium in general.



Ironically, as part of this mission, Kliger castigated other magazine publishers for not pulling their weight in the MPA, either by not joining or not paying their dues.

However, leadership at Hachette shifted in September 2008, with Kliger handing over the roles of president and CEO to Alain Lemarchand, who was dispatched by French parent company Lagardere SCA to put Hachette on a firmer financial footing. Kliger remained with the company, but stepped into the background, assuming the role of chairman.

The MPA didn't hide its disappointment, noting that a need for industry unity is even greater in an adverse economic environment. "More than ever, this is a time when magazine publishers need to work in unison to promote their interests and protect their assets. We hope that when the economy improves, Hachette will rejoin the MPA, which has served the industry so effectively by spotlighting the effectiveness of magazine advertising, pushing for postal reform legislation and collaborating on many other initiatives that are vital to the health of magazines."

As print media faces the double whammy of a long-term secular decline and a steep cyclical downturn, many membership dues that were once accepted as business expenses are coming under closer scrutiny by publishers. Over the last year, several newspaper publishers, including the Tribune Co., have announced their intention to drop out of the Associated Press, citing the high cost of content.

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