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The Independent Online
Sign of the times

Ikon, the monthly male lifestyle magazine, has closed after five issues. This follows disputes with the magazine's management over payments to staff and freelance contributors. Gary Smith, chairman of European Consumer Publications, says ECP, the magazine's publisher, was put into liquidation last week after attempts to raise additional funding failed. "Sales were below expectations ... advertising, too. We were told incorrect sales figures by our distributors for issues three and four. We believed sales were 80,000, but they were only 39,000."

Disgruntled former staff and freelancers, however, claim the magazine's closure was the fault of poor management. Ian Gittins, former deputy editor, says freelancers were not paid "for three months before the title's closure". Moreover, there was little investment in marketing and promotions. Ex- employees are now seeking legal advice to recover pounds 60,000 in outstanding payments.

Ikon launched last July with sales of 75,000. Circulation later dropped to 35,000. Mr Smith, who insists he was not involved in the title's day- to-day running, says: "We were trying to raise money. We believed we were close not only to financing Ikon but also acquiring a couple of other magazines."

Despite Ikon's closure, Mr Smith, who is also chairman of a production company, Winchester Multimedia, does not believe the men's magazine market has reached saturation point. "It's close to saturation. But there's probably room for another - although with broader appeal than Ikon had." He says there are no plans to resurrect the title - despite rumours to the contrary.

He's got that right. Ex-staff and understandably angry freelancers believe any attempt would be "lunatic". As one bitterly, and pithily, puts it: "They'd have more chance relaunching the Lusitania."

Ikon's publisher, Jonathan White, was unavailable for comment.

A fine pickle

After the unmitigated disaster of The Scarlet Letter, the director Roland Joffe rises to met a challenge even greater than squeezing a performance out of Demi Moore - shooting an ad for Patak's Pickles. As they say in Beverly Hills: "A wise career move."

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