Magazine censorship may cause magazines to retreat do digital format only
In the Government’s continuing efforts to change the exposure levels of sexualisation to children here in the UK, supermarket giants such as Co-Op and Tesco have requested that many ‘lads mags’ cover up the majority of their covers with ‘modesty bags’. The latest apparent attempts to retain childhood innocence for as long as possible has caused many raised eyebrows in what some have called a ‘backwards step’ which could cause many of the UK’s most popular magazines to retreat to digital only should more supermarkets take up this policy.
Nuts magazine has already refused to go ahead with the proposal resulting in Co-Op refusing to sell the magazine from September onwards, however many of the other larger supermarket chains including Sainsburys have come out to say that they have no plans to follow suit. Morrisons have suggested an industry-wide agreement rather than individuals taking up new policies also however all plans will remain controversial.
But if an industry-wide solution did come in that meant that magazines would need to be covered by ‘modesty bags’ or ‘modesty covers’, whilst some have agreed to this, sales will inevitably effected both due to a lack of exposure to the general public as well as the ‘forbidden’ aspect which might make people who might normally buy the magazine stop altogether. Those who refuse to agree will inevitably have their magazines pulled from shelves and not sold in the majority of the UK’s largest retailers.
This could inevitably start one of digital magazines greatest pushes yet. Tablets were once again one of the big sellers at Christmas last year and magazine publishers have gradually been improving the way they integrate their magazines with digital devices. There’s also the aspect that as they are being sold by the publisher themselves or via online retailers such as Apple’s iTunes there is less need for these exposure policies as to find the magazines in the first place they need to be specifically searched for and downloaded. As such the iTunes page for Nuts magazine is completely uncensored and even features pages from inside of the magazine as an impetus to buy.
The only issue is that, whilst digital is fast become the norm, books being read on e-readers, MP3 and other digital music and video formats becoming increasingly popular there will still inevitably be a drop in sales compared to the presence of the high street. But if anything this is yet another push in the direction of digital and another sign that the public has many more options compared to what they used to have and that the decision is ultimately up to us and not someone else. There are already many advantages to digital magazines including more flexible content such as the inclusion of video, interactive advertising as well as the ability to delete issues and download them again at the time of the reader’s choosing. There’s also the lack of costs that come with printing large quantities of magazines which can result in the cost of the magazine being brought down in a digital environment if they wish to. If publishers have back issues and no digital version, magazine scanning is also an option with many companies out there offering the service to digitise print copies.