Another coronavirus casualty: People, Bona publisher Caxton withdraws from magazines

The board of directors of Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers, publishers of Food & Home and People, announced on Tuesday that it has begun the process of withdrawing from magazine publishing.

The decision has been made "in principle", according to a statement issued by the board on Tuesday, and the company is consulting with employees.

Caxton employs some 250 people in its magazine division.

Titles affected are Bona, Country Life, Essentials, Food & Home, Garden & Home, People, Rooi Rose, Vrouekeur, Woman & Home and Your Family.

General Manager Anton Botes said while 10 of the brands were definitely affected, Caxton was attempting to accommodate Living & Loving, and Farmer's Weekly - which has been published for over 100 years - elsewhere within the stable, "where we see synergies" with other publications. 

The group is also open to talks with parties interested in taking over any of its titles.

Many of the titles affected have a long publishing history. Bona is one of the country's oldest magazines, at over 60 years old, while Garden & Home was first published in 1946 under the title The South African Home Gardener and Poultry Keeper. Rooi Rose dates back to 1942.

Steady decline

The magazines have been battling to survive in recent years. The board attributed the closure to a "steady and continuous" reduction in advertising spending in the media sector as well as a decline in circulation revenues.

The added negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on an "already difficult trading conditions for magazine publishers" made the final decision unavoidable, the statement added.

"The Covid-19 lockdown has seen a significant downscaling of activities by all the group's clients," the board said, adding that it was concerned that cancellations in advertising leading up to and during the lockdown period would result in a permanent loss of revenue."

Caxton's announcement is the latest blow to SA media houses, who are bleeding as advertisers increasingly reduce advertising spend under pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Economist Mike Schussler previously told Fin24 that advertising is the link tying the media industry to the rest of the economy, and the impact of the national lockdown would continue to be felt by media houses in the future.

Late in April, long-standing media house Associated Media Publishing – which publishes Cosmopolitan and House & Leisure, among others – announced that it would be closing on 1 May.

Salary cuts have been implemented at other media companies, including weekly investigative newspaper Mail & Guardian, Independent Media and African News Agency. 

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