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Knoxville Publisher’s Plan To Launch Magazines Sparks Ire

February 25, 1988

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A publishing company’s plan to offer a new series of magazines just for doctors’ waiting rooms with the requirement that the physicians limit purchases of other magazines has rival publishers furious.

″The Constitution says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech,″ said George Green, a vice president and group publisher of New York- based Hearst Corp. ″I guess the man from Tennessee has his own agenda.″

Whittle Communications expects to put its six quarterly magazines in the waiting rooms of pediatricians, gynecologists and family practitioners this fall, said Patti Carr, the company’s corporate marketing associate.

Whittle is targeting 15,000 doctors’ offices its first year, and about half already have signed up, said spokeswoman Sara Fortune. Eventually, Whittle hopes to capture 40 percent of doctors’ offices in the top 125 markets in the country, she said.

Under the subscription agreement, doctors cannot have more than two non- Whittle publications in the waiting rooms, she said.

In return, doctors get magazines at a reduced price, free monthly replacement of worn magazines and an agreement that there will be no ads for unhealthy products such as alcohol and cigarettes, said Ms. Fortune.

The six magazines, collectively called ″The Whittle Family System,″ will cover beauty and health, living, family life, fiction, gossip, entertainment and sports.

″Each one is designed to be read in 20 or 30 minutes, the time you usually spend waiting for your doctor,″ said Ms. Fortune.

Ms. Carr predicted it would be ″the largest launch in the history of magazines.″ First-year revenues are projected at $37 million, she said.

″Most publishers find this whole method unacceptable and are not going to sit idly by and let it happen,″ said Michael Luftman, a spokesman for Time Inc. in New York.

Whittle publishes special-interest magazines for such groups as students, restaurant workers and medical personnel.

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