Cross promotion to go on after Seven's sale of PagMags stable

The hugely-successful print-TV cross-promotion of Australia's Better Homes & Gardens is set to continue after the magazine's sale to Bauer Media.

The German-owned new owners have pledged to continue the show following Seven West Media's sale of top-selling BHG as part of its Pacific Magazines magazine stable.

If approved by the ACCC, the $40 million deal would add 22 per cent of the Australian magazine market to the 35 per cent it already holds. Seven West - which also gets $6.6 million-worth of advertising over the first three years - is expected to use the proceeds to reduce debt and follows its acquisition last week of Prime Media in a share swap which valued the regional broadcaster at $64 million.

Launched in 1978 and now Australia's second-largest paid-sale magazine, the monthly print edition is a licensed spin-off of an American title of the same name, which will celebrate its centenary in 2022.

The Pacific Magazines stable also includes marie claire, New Idea, InStyle, Home Beautiful, Women's Health, Men's Health, Who, Girlfriend, that's life!, family circle and Diabetic Living.

The deal brings together two longstanding rivals - New Idea and Melbourne-produced TV Week (later a ABC and then ACP joint-venture and now Bauer-owned) from what was Rupert Murdoch's Southdown Press, and Women's Day and Australian Women's Weekly from the former Kerry (and latterly James) Packer's Australian Consolidated Press. The print edition of Cleo, launched by Packer in 1972 under editor Ita Buttrose, was closed by Bauer in 2016 but continues Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai and Indonesian editions licensed by Singapore Press Holdings.

The country's highest-circulation 'magazines' are free distribution supermarket journals Coles and Woolworth's Fresh.

Bauer bought ACP from a then debt-ridden Nine Entertainment in 2012, while Seven bought PacMags in 2002, leaving PMP (formerly Southdown Press) as a solely printing business.

Production of the more than 50 magazines is currently shared between Australia's two dominant heatset printers, with Ive Group printing for PacMags and Ovato (formerly PMP) for Bauer as well as handling distribution for both. While relations between Bauer and Ovato are likely to be further strengthened by former Bauer Media commercial director Paul Gardiner joining Ovato as managing director of its New Zealand operations, it is likely that Bauer will split production of the magazine stable between both printers.

Peter Coleman

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