Trendspotting #1

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Indy Lifestyle Online
l Those who fret about the dumbing down of the British population may draw some comfort from the latest ABC figures which show that the glossy lads' journal Loaded has just been knocked off the top spot in the men's magazine market - until they peruse the publication that has overtaken it. FHM also majors in colour spreads of scantily clad female celebrities. Described as "useful, funny and sexy" by it editor Mike Soutar, FHM (For Him Magazine) more than doubled its sale to 365,341 in the second half of last year. Loaded, it should be said, also shot up by 89 per cent to 323,115.

l Members of the White Dot Society will be delighted to know that the British are watching gradually less telly. The average viewing in 1996 was just over 24 hours a week - three hours less than in 1992. The only people going against the trend are the 3 million homes that started subscribing to cable or satellite TV in the past three years. Research by media specialist CIA MediaLab shows that six months after getting the subscription, satellite and cable homes are watching 35 more minutes of TV a week. It takes six months for the viewing to go up because at first the extra channels confuse people, and their viewing tends to dip.

l The idea that satellite TV is council-house TV is dead - or should be. Forty-six per cent of viewers signed up for cable or satellite TV are now classified as ABC1, the same proportion as in the general population. Most of the upmarket subscribers have signed up since the Premier League moved to Sky Sports. Football has also dragged in younger viewers - 85 per cent of satellite viewers are under 55, compared with 72 per cent of the UK population. These young ABC1s are keen on new toys - they are 58 per cent more likely to own three cars, 33 per cent more likely to have a dishwasher and 38 per cent more likely to have a car phone. Almost 50 per cent of them want even more channels than they already have.

l The British made 124 million trips to the cinema last year. This is a 70 per cent increase in 10 years - up from 73 million. The increase is credited to the 900 edge-of-town multiplex screens that have been built in the last decade. Another 600 are planned. Within the next year, people in Sheffield will be able to choose from 60 screens. It is most unlikely there will be 60 different films showing in Sheffield at any one time.

l Complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority fell in 1996 for the first time in three years. The ASA received 12,055 complaints last year compared with 12,804 the year before. The reason for the drop is that there was no National Condom Week ad starring the Pope. In 1995, that bright idea received a record 1,192 complaints. There were 91 ads in London listings magazine Time Out for club nights on New Year's Eve 1996 compared with 20 ads in 1985. Dance music radio station Kiss FM estimates roughly 1,000 clubbers per club paid pounds 25 each to go dancing that night - spending pounds 2.2m in London alone on one night. Around 38 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds claim to go clubbing each week. Among 18- to 21-year- olds this rises to 50 per cent. Last week, a new dance-format Kiss FM station joined the ones in London and Manchester and started broadcasting across Yorkshire.

l ITV is sneaking more advertising onto our screens. A survey by advertisers found there had been a 17 per cent increase in the peak-time hours carrying nine minutes or more of ads. Seven-and-a-half minutes is the norm. The Central and Meridian regions increased their hours carrying nine minutes of ads by 31 per cent. Evening peak time is when ITV gets 70 per cent of its audience.

Paul McCann

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