Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
2 mins read

Media Voices live at MagFest: What’s the future​​ for free media?

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In this very special live episode of Media Voices, the team discusses the future of free media in front of an audience at Magfest ’18, the UK’s premiere magazine-focused event held last week in Edinburgh. On stage, the team is joined by Mike Soutar, chairman of ShortList Media Limited, and Radio Times Editor Mark Frith.

Soutar is co-founder of Shortlist Media Ltd, the UK’s market-leading premium, free magazine publisher. The company’s portfolio includes ShortList, Stylist, Emerald Street, and Mr Hyde and straddles print, web, email, live events, and international ventures.

Frith also has extensive publishing experience, editing Smash Hits at the tender age of 23 before taking Heat magazine from 50k to 500k in weekly sales, winning nine major magazine industry awards in the process. He is now the editor of Radio Times magazine, Britain’s biggest selling weekly title.

The media voices team with guests Mark Frith and Mike Soutar on stage at Magfest18

Takeaways include:

  • Pressures on print advertising: Although there has been a slight resurgence in advertising figures for print, the overall decline means that magazines have become dependent on lower margin revenues across the board.
  • Space in the market for new titles: As the shift to digital continues and ad revenue falls for print publications, Soutar and Frith debated whether there could be space in the market for new mainstream titles. Although it would be possible, it was agreed that any new publications would have to be of a significant size in order to see any long-term success.
  • Paywalls: Paywalls have been a successful means for a number of publishers to fund their online properties, and with ‘free’ broadcasters and publications witnessing falls in ad revenue, the team question how long it will be before paywalls really take over.
  • Change in ‘free B2B’ philosophy: Soutar explained that free B2B publications have been forced to rethink their business models which has led to a profound change in B2B publishing, and the loss of more than a few titles.

Visit for more information on the event, the speakers who took part, and information about next year’s gathering in Edinburgh, Scotland on 20th September 2019.