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Media owners united in desire for industry body

Major publishers in the UAE have signaled their desire to form an association to tackle issues such as auditing, bad debts, and development and training issues.

Major publishers in the UAE have signaled their desire to form an association to tackle issues such as auditing, bad debts, and development and training issues.

While trade associations exist for advertisers, ad agencies and media agencies in the Emirates, there is currently no forum for publishers to exchange information. Attempts to form such a body have been tried in the past, but all have ended in failure.

The call for a publishers association comes as the IAA’s Circulation Steering Organisation (Castor), drives ahead with plans to get all major titles audited by the end of the year.
While Castor, which is made up of advertising agencies, advertisers and media agencies, has consulted with publishers, there are concerns that the interests of print titles are being overlooked.

Simon O’Herlihy, general manager of marketing at Motivate Publishing, said the time was right to establish an association, but it would need international support to work effectively.

“It is overdue. But it should really only be done under an international body such as the International Federation of the Periodical Press to give it the credibility it needs,” he said. “Up until now advertisers and agencies have taken advantage of the lack of a publishers’ body. We need to get together to discuss issues such as bad debts, and bad business practices that some advertisers are guilty of. It will give us a voice.”

7Days’ general manager, Shezan Amiji, said: “7Days is behind the formation of a publishers association and we have no problem with working with any or all publications to that end.”

Walid Akawi, CEO at ITP Publishing, publisher of Campaign, said the company was willing to be part of a publishers’ association.

“The UAE has reached a size where publishers probably should come together in an independent UAE, rather than regional, magazine and newspaper publishers’ association and take a leading role in creating standards for our industry across the board — not only in circulation audits,” he said.

But Gulf News, while supporting the idea, said there were issues that would be difficult to implement.

Duleep George, sales and marketing director at Gulf News, said: “It is always useful or a group of people from one industry to get together and exchange information.

“A start can be made, and I am sure that there are issues such as bad debt and credit issues where there would be no argument on. When it comes to other issues, it might be difficult to implement and police.”

His views were backed by Abdullatif Al Sayegh, CEO at Arab Media Group, publishers of Emirates Today.

He said: “It will only work if publishers leave out the
financial aspects of their business. If publishers look after their own interests, it will not work. The publishing industry is weak because it is so separated. It is about time publishers in this industry get together and exchange information and have a voice in the market.”

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