The public's insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip has prompted the launch of yet another magazine dedicated to providing sanitised coverage of the lives of television soap stars, pop singers and film actors.
Celebrities need have no fear that Closer, a publication aimed at women aged between 20 and 50, will attempt to wash their dirty linen in public.
The editor, Jane Johnson, a former Sunday Express executive editor, has been briefed by its publisher, Emap, to offer positive coverage, with news items as well as weekly magazine staples such as TV listings, horoscopes and puzzles. There are no plans for the title to copy the irreverent stance of its Emap stablemate Heat.
Emap has invested £10m in the magazine, which it hopes will eventually attract 300,000 readers and gain a foothold in the £300m women's weekly market in Britain.
Johnson said: "Closer will offer readers a refreshing alternative and an all-round better read to what's already out there. It's a women's weekly with a different approach – modern, fun and glossy with a unique mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary, real life and celebrity content."
The editor's main challenge will be to convince women to choose her title over others in the same category. Mock-ups of Closer suggest that the magazine will aim at the established titles – IPC Media's Chat, Now, Woman and Woman's Own, and H Bauer's Take a Break and That's Life. The sector accounts for 7.6 million sales a week though some analysts believe it is in decline.
Closer will pursue the same readers as its rivals with the same £1 cover price.
The £10m launch budget compares with the estimated £5m to £6m Emap spent initially launching Heat. This is less than the £15m Conde Nast spent on the handbag-sized Glamour magazine .
After a poor start, Heat was heavily marketed and went on to achieve an ABC circulation of 479,000 readers, generating an estimated £35m a year in news-stand revenue. Part of its success has been attributed to repositioning itself to lure twentysomething women with a mix of celebrity stories, real-life stories and TV listings.
Paul Keenan, chief executive of Emap Consumer Media, added: "Emap has a first-class track record of introducing innovative new titles to anticipate consumer demand. Closer not only reflects this commitment to launching successful magazines, but also illustrates our intention to reshape the women's weekly market."
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