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6th December 2005


16th December

    No Values at Tesco

Although the article makes a good point, I have a feeling that a circulation of 30,000 is pretty low in the magazine world and there are plenty of non contentious magazines that are not carried by Tescos on the basis of equally low circulation.

From the Press Gazette

Scarlet, the independent magazine edited by sex expert Sarah Hedley that aims to "turn women on", has had its advances spurned by supermarket giant Tesco, which has reportedly decided the title is too rude for its shelves.

The glossy monthly, launched last year and currently selling about 30,000 copies per issue, was stocked in Borders and WHSmith earlier this year, but was this week told by Tesco that its erotic fiction and sexy features were a turn-off, according to the magazine.

Publisher Gavin Griffiths said he hoped the supermarket might change its mind in the future, but added that he was "very disappointed" at the decision. If you look at titles like Nuts and Zoo, they are just pornography, and I don't understand why they are allowed on the shelves, but erotica for women isn't, he told Press Gazette. Tesco is the biggest supermarket and getting on its shelves is hugely important for us - I want as many women as possible to be able to read Scarlet."

Tesco last week caused controversy by deciding to introduce a range of battery-powered sex rings made by Durex. According to industry insiders, a decision to stock a sexually explicit magazine might be considered unwise following the coverage.

However, a spokeswoman for Tesco said the decision not to stock the title was based on space and timing, and that the retailer had "not said no long term", but might consider adding it to its list in May next year.

16th December   Updated : Red Letter Day
From the Press Gazette

Tesco appears to have made a U-turn on its decision not to stock saucy women's magazine Scarlet following media coverage of the independent title's battle to get on the supermarket's shelves.

Insisting that it did not consider itself a "moral guardian" and was happy to let customers make their own choices about the title, the company announced this week that it would be listing the magazine, edited by sex columnist Sarah Hedley, from May.

The magazine claimed last month that it had been turned down by Tesco because its mix of erotic fiction and cheeky sex features was considered "too rude" by the family store.

But now the supermarket is keen to deny that it ever rejected the title. Jonathan Church, external communications manager at Tesco, said: Although we don't stock the magazine in Tesco stores, we intend to do so from next May. It's important to stress that we do not put ourselves up as a moral guardian or censor because we believe customers should have a choice as to what they buy. We are sensitive as to how we display certain publications, with young families in mind, but will always follow the principle of giving the customer the freedom to choose."

Gavin Griffiths, publisher of Scarlet, called the decision "fantastic news", but said he had been "baffled" by his magazine's difficulty in getting on to the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents. He added: We don't really understand why buyers are so worried about erotic fiction when soft porn for men is available everywhere. All we're doing is selling fantasy. It's just a bit on the fruity side, that's all. We certainly don't exploit anyone or feature any porn, so morally I think we have nothing to worry about. WH Smith has had the title since August and hasn't had one complaint.


September 17th 2005

    No Pent Up Demand

Based on an article from New York Business

Penthouse magazine plans to step up its rivalry with Playboy. But this time the competition will be on the small screen instead of the newsstand.

Parent company Penthouse Media Group Inc. said today that it plans to launch multiple broadcast networks in an attempt to take market share away from the dominant players in the lucrative adult cable television space.

The television efforts will be led by James English, who headed Playboy Entertainment Group until a year ago.
Penthouse's announcements, which include the company's closing on a $48 million round of private financing, mark the latest move by its new owners to revive a brand that has fallen on hard times.

Founded by Bob Guccione 40 years ago, the troubled title was purchased out of bankruptcy last October by Bell's eponymous investment firm. The new owners have softened the magazine, getting rid of the hardcore pornography that alienated Penthouse from newsstand vendors and advertisers. This move has clearly alienated the readers though and the title has yet to rebuild its advertising base or its circulation, which is currently 355,000 copies, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Bell declined to describe what will distinguish Penthouse's television programming from its competitors', but said its offerings will be available in most households in the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The cable and satellite channels will launch in the first quarter of next year, part of Penthouse's recent expansion of content.


September 11th 2005

    Publishers Adapt

From The Observer

Online porn is widely available, but some adult print empires have been slow to adapt, writes James Robinson

If sex sells, then the internet has become the primary place to purchase it. But the growth of online adult content is likely to mark the end of an iconic, if widely reviled, cultural phenomenon: the 'girlie magazine'.
Like the first drag on a cigarette or kiss at the school disco, buying a porn mag from the corner shop became a rite of passage for a generation of teenage boys. The advent of the internet changed all that, making pornography more widely available, but multi-million pound 'adult' empires that have been slow to embrace the online world face an uncertain future.

While thousands of internet entrepreneurs have built profitable businesses charging monthly subscription fees for pornography, some of the giant publishing empires have been slow to adapt.

Last month, Penthouse, the US title set up to compete with Playboy, filed for bankruptcy protection. Although its financial problems owed much to the extravagant lifestyle of founder Bob Guccione and an ill-conceived casino investment, the business had been slow to move its content online.

Like other print media, adult publishers need to invest huge sums to ensure their content is available on a range of platforms. Jolyon Barker, media partner at accountant Deloitte, says: A key challenge for the wider publishing industry is to transform its culture from being print-oriented to becoming multi-media brands. While print will remain important for many years to come, it will no longer be the dominant channel to market.

In some cases, it may even become the "window display" that drives consumers to paid-for content ... In future, previously paid-for print copy may literally become a [free] flyer driving users to paid-for television or internet sites.

Playboy, the world's best-known adult brand, has survived by reacting quickly to technological change - building a portfolio of pay-TV channels and filming photo shoots for distribution on DVD. The magazine, which still has a respectable circulation in dozens of countries worldwide, acts as a marketing tool for other products in its multi-billion adult empire.

It is no longer sustainable for publishing companies to create for print, then copy and paste into a web channel, says Barker. The publishing houses that succeed will be those that can apply the brand value of their titles over a range of media, with print and online among the most important, but with radio and television also [crucial].

Express Newspaper's owner Richard Desmond, whose Northern & Shell magazine group was one of the UK's largest adult publishers, was also quick to absorb the lessons of the multi-media age. He chose to shed his adult magazine titles after a long search for a buyer, but retained his profitable TV channels, which include The Fantasy Channel and the Red Hot brands.

But while hardcore pornography has found a natural home online, it is unlikely to disappear from newsagents. Much of the adult content has simply migrated from the top shelf to the bottom in the form of 'lads mags' like Loaded and Maxim. They contain acres of naked female flesh, and are often sold with free titillating, soft-porn DVDs mounted on their covers. Unlike their predecessors, they provide a more acceptable soft porn read, with similar content, but none of the stigma attached to top-shelf titles.

Girlie mags haven't disappeared; they've been reborn in a more palatable form.


August 26th 2005

    Playboy Gatefold Online

Based on an article from The Register

Playboy magazine have announced that - as of next month (October issue) - entire unexpurgated issues will be available online for the same price as the print edition.

To get at the content, (which, for the record, this month contains the fascinating: Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times columnist and best-selling author, chats candidly about the war in Iraq, the future of the Middle East and why two countries that are involved in Dell's supply chain will never wage war with each other , as well as loads of top-quality airbrushed beaver), you'll need to download the free Zinio Reader which then allows you to browse to your heart's content.

The online edition of Playboy is managed by Zinio , which also delivers content for Business Week, Macworld and, excitingly, GPS World. The virtual Playboy is not yet listed for subscription, but if you're beside yourself with excitement at the prospect of e-babes, then you can peruse the existing portfolio of "men's" material here.


April 5th 2005

    Sex Still Sells Magazines

From Media Week

The emergence of the internet and with it the 24/7 access to porn was expected to lead to the gradual demise of the adult magazine market. The onlinemarket has certainly had an effect.

Figures from Seymour Marketing Services reveal the retail sales value of top-shelf titles has fallen from 33.9m at the end of 2000 to 25.7m last year. The volumes sold have also taken a nosedive, down from 12.1m to 9.4m over the same period.

Yet media owners have made money from sex themed magazines ever since Hugh Hefner launched Playboy in 1953 with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. It was joined by titles such as Men Only which eventually ended up in the Paul Raymond stable alongside Club International and Escort.

There has been an explosion in niche interest titles such as Asian Babes , Forty Plus and Readers' Wives which were owned by Daily Express proprietor Richard Desmond until he sold them to media acquisition vehicle Remnant Media for 20m. Desmond, who has an estimated fortune of 500m, has retained the licence for erotic title Forum .

No adult title is currently a member of the ABC, although Paul Raymond Publications used to be. The media owners themselves will not release their readership figures but, according to Seymour, the best-selling monthly is Paul Raymond's Escort– selling around 80,000 copies a month with the rest a long way behind.

Club International , produced by the same publisher, reaches sales of between 40,000 and 50,000 a month, while some of the very niche titles can sell as little as 500 to 1,000 copies.

Nicola Swift, advertising manager for Paul Raymond Publications, says it is now company policy to keep quiet about sales figures because most publishers have been accused of inflating their sales figures.

A lack of data does make it hard for advertisers to take a purely business decision about using adult titles, many of which include editorial and imagery no more risky than that seen in FHM or Loaded these days.

Paul Raymond chief executive Carl Snitcher says  he is confident that more brands will be persuaded into his magazines or onto the online and mobile services. The whole area of adult print mags remains an inexact science and the fact we are unable to advertise our titles on television does not help.


May 2004

    Thumbs Down to Thumbs Up

Thanks to Mark

Searched by HM Customs' officers at Eurotunnel on Friday 14th May 2004

Last night, having driven back from a day trip to Amsterdam I was pulled over by HM Customs at Eurotunnel.
Politely, they asked where I had been and for what reason. I explained that I had been on a buying trip for my on-line sex shop and had purchased a large quantity of adult magazines. I was asked to provide details of the magazines and I was able to produce a detailed receipt from my wholesaler. The customs' officer said that there were some "teeny" titles which required further examination. He asked me to stay in my car while 7 officers were called to each open a box of magazines. Two female custom officers and five male officers set to work examining the contents. Occasionally they would pass a magazine to another officer, possibly to determine whether the content was acceptable. After about 10 minutes the boxes were sealed with "Opened by HM Customs & Excise" sticky tape and returned to the boot of my car. In the meantime another three officers were searching my car for drugs, they made a thorough search inside, under the bonnet and under the car. I was quite pleased when they found 5 of lose change under my back seat, especially as I am about to sell the car.

The officers were courteous and polite and I did not feel intimidated but then again I was 99.9% sure that all the magazines were within the R18 BBFC guidelines. I was able to ask what kind of magazines would have landed me in trouble and was told that bestiality and child porn were the main subjects. I asked if a magazine featuring fisting and watersports would have been confiscated and was told that they would fall into the grey area and might well be confiscated. I would then be required to apply to the courts for a judgement on whether they were obscene.

The titles that I brought back with me were: Anal Sex, Mega Climax, Blue Climax, New Exciting, Teenage Sex, Busen Extra, Heisse Biester, Dildo Girls, Teenyland, Reissen Titten, Teeners from Holland, Seventeen Dirty Teens, Seventeen Teenage Sperm, Seventeen Teenage Masturbation, Seventeen Anal Teens and Seventeen Teenagers, Seventeen Schoolgirl, Seventeen Special, Seventeen Lesbian Teens, Kinky Sex, Busty Slags, Anal Addicts, Filthy Threesomes, Lesben, Anal Luder, Abgespritzt, Schwanger, Big Mammas, Big Tits, Pleasure, Teenage Schoolgirls, Lesbian Lover, Lesbian Love, Color Climax, Rodox, New Cunts, New Climax, Private, Pirate, Sex, Triple X.



    What's Hot and What's Not

Based on information from

The sale of sex magazines is governed by the Obscene Publications Act. Whilst this is notoriously open to interpretation, the various law enforcement agencies of the UK have all adopted the BBFC R18 guidelines as their benchmark for determining what material is liable to prosecution.

The following magazine content is therefore now totally acceptable and legal for sale from any outlet in the UK. All such material is also legal to import.

  • aroused genitalia
  • masturbation
  • oral-genital contact including kissing, licking and sucking
  • penetration by finger, penis, tongue, vibrator or dildo
  • non-harmful fetish material
  • group sexual activity
  • ejaculation and semen
  • urination not during a sex act

Sales from high street shops is perfectly legal but is also controlled by Indecent Displays legislation. Magazines with viewable hardcore on the cover are thereby limited to licensed/unlicensed sex shops and web sites with an adults only entry policy.

High street shops often adopt very strict voluntary censorship policies and either choose not to stock sex magazines or to limit their sales to strictly softcore titles. In addition shops are also constrained by the policies of their distributors.

More extreme content leaves the supplier or importer liable to prosecution:

  • urination during a sex act
  • scat(defaction)
  • vaginal and anal fisting
  • bestiality
  • coercive sex
  • extreme bondage, pain and torture

Note that having bought such material in the UK, the buyer is not liable to prosecution for either buying the magazines or owning them (assuming that these are not bought with the intent to supply).

All material featuring sexual images of children less than 16 years old leave all parties liable to prosecution and imprisonment. Even non-sexual nude images of children may leave importers/suppliers/owners liable to all sorts of troubles.


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