Fall in sales and advertising kills off 'City Limits'

THE London listings magazine City Limits closed yesterday, a victim of falling sales and advertising revenue.

Founded as a co-operative in 1981 by former staff of Time Out who left during a strike over money and management style, City Limits spent much of its life lurching from crisis to crisis. The closure has cost 30 people their jobs. Although the equal-wage principle had been abandoned, most of its staff earnt about pounds 11,000.

Last August it was shorn of its radical feminist stance and repositioned in the marketplace as a young woman's weekly, complete with listings, under a former editor of Options magazine. It had six months to prove itself, but advertising fell off dramatically last month and sales, estimated yesterday by Time Out to be about 10,000 a week, did not approach the 25,000 target.

This new look followed its rescue last summer by an unlikely saviour, Terry Hornett, a millionaire entrepreneur who founded Look Now, Options, Country Homes & Interiors and Woman's World, then sold them to Reed International for pounds 3m in 1987.

Mr Hornett said yesterday: 'It was a title that was dead anyway, a title that didn't succeed. The radical feminists, they took some killing off. I wanted an entertaining, absorbing magazine, a positive title rather than negative, but to have some cutting edge. It's not just advertising, its past history has been a dead weight around its neck. It takes time for a title to shake off its image.'

Mr Hornett bought the publication after a series of deals which saw a television producer, Bernard Clark purchase the magazine from the receiver in 1990. An Australian, Michael Harbison, then bought into it in 1991, followed by Mr Hornett last year. He is considering whether to publish a new monthly magazine, aimed at the House Beautiful and Good Housekeeping market, but only if the advertising market improves.

Radios 1 and 2, the BBC's most popular networks, have been defended by Liz Forgan in her first speech since becoming the BBC's managing director of network radio, earlier this month. Addressing delegates at a conference debating the Government's Green Paper on the future of the BBC, Ms Forgan said commercial services did not duplicate what Radios 1 and 2 offered, and it was a mistake to argue that the two networks should be hived off to the commercial sector.

They provided a service to a section of the licence-fee paying population that was not touched by other BBC services. 'Everyone who pays the licence fee should get something back for it. If you hive them off to the commercial sector, they will not be the same services,' she said.

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