'Maryland Magazine' ends stint as monthly Future issues to drop MPT's program guide

April 09, 1996|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,SUN STAFF

Maryland Public Television members just got their last free issue of Maryland Magazine.

After issuing four editions as a monthly, Maryland Magazine will revert to publishing every other month and will no longer include MPT's viewer guide, officials said yesterday, noting there will be no layoffs.

At least for a while, MPT members again will get monthly schedules mailed directly, starting with the May issue; and will stop receiving the magazine as a bonus for membership.

Maryland Magazine wasn't attracting enough revenue to support itself as a monthly, especially after paper prices rose last year, said owner Michael C. Hodes. Bimonthly issues weren't frequent enough to carry program schedules.

Adding MPT's 68,000 members to the magazine's 30,000 paid subscribers helped the magazine raise its monthly ad sales from between $50,000 and $60,000 to between $50,000 and $100,000, he said.

"We really saw a doubling of the revenues," Mr. Hodes added. "What we needed was a tripling to make it work."

MPT had been spending $300,000 to $400,000 yearly to print and distribute the guide. Those costs will now land back in its budget.

"We're disappointed," said David H. Nevins, chairman of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission. "We had hoped that this would have represented an opportunity for MPT to save some money for a considerable amount of time."

MPT is mulling other ideas for distributing the viewer guide, Mr. Nevins said.

The station also is considering whether to seek compensation for what it views as a breach of the magazine's agreement to distribute the guide, he added. "The assistant attorney general who handles our affairs has been reviewing the contract," he said.

Mr. Hodes said that the groups are "cooperating to try to decouple in a way that's positive for both organizations."

Towson lawyer Mr. Hodes and a partner bought Maryland Magazine last year and agreed to print MPT's monthly program guide starting in January.

The magazine retains its 30,000 paid subscribers and Mr. Hodes said he hopes some MPT members will start subscribing.

"For us, economically, we were successful and will continue to be successful as an every-other-month publication," he said.

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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