Hello! is saying goodbye to celebrity gossip


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The Independent Online

Cocking its nose in the air and hitching up its ballgown, Hello! magazine has flounced out of the celebrity party in search of more upscale company.

After 19 years of bumping into upstart rival OK! at glamorous bashes and product launches, Hello! now wants to run with the fashion and lifestyle crowd and hang out with Grazia and Stylist instead.

Hello!'s Spanish owner has asked the publishing industry to re-categorise the title and wants newsagents to no longer position it on the shelves alongside OK!, the cut-price competitor published by Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell.

In a snooty letter to the media industry, Hello! publishing director Charlotte Stockting explained her reasons for moving her title to the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Women's Lifestyle & Fashion Sector. "It… reflects a move away from the celebrity sector, and it's (sic) obsession with made-up stories, scurrilous gossip, poor production values, real-life stories and low cover price," she sniffed.

Ms Stockting claimed that, unlike its "downmarket" celebrity rivals, Hello! was known for "upmarket editorial, strong lifestyle content, stunning photography and excellent print production".

The move also reflects a shift in the public's appetite for celebrity news and the types of character currently most popular in that diverse melodrama. During the past 18 months, the Royal wedding and the escapades of Prince Harry have eclipsed the tantrums of the reality television contestants and glamour models that had previously kept readers enthralled.

In reality, Hello! is hardly likely to abandon celebrity coverage, which is central to its brand. But a consequence of the Hello! decision will be the end of bidding wars between the two titles which have previously been exploited by celebrity agents.

Hello! has been battling with OK! since its launch in 1993. They had a bitter legal fight when Hello! published pictures of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones' wedding after the rights were sold to OK! for £1m.