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British Magazine Punch Folds Again

May 30, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ The British satirical magazine Punch, first founded in 1841 and revived after a four-year gap in 1996, is ceasing publication again after serious financial losses.

Mohamed al Fayed, owner of the Harrods department store, said Wednesday that he was closing the publication he brought back to life in 1996.

The original Punch had shut down in 1992 after more than a century and a half of publishing irreverent humor.

``I have done everything in my power to keep Punch alive by pumping in massive amounts of cash,″ al Fayed said. ``But as a businessman, sometimes the head has to triumph over the heart and it is therefore with great regret that I have decided to close.″

The first edition of the original Punch was published on July 17, 1841, and the magazine developed a reputation for satire.

By the late 1980s, circulation had dropped sharply and Punch was closed in 1992.

Al Fayed resumed publication and tried to boost circulation. The billionaire is the father of Dodi Fayed, who died in a car crash with Britain’s Princess Diana in 1997.

By Wednesday, the magazine had fewer than 6,000 subscribers.

``Punch is a British institution. I was immensely proud when I was able to revive the magazine after four years of absence,″ he said. ``However, the warmth with which many people welcomed the return of Punch has not been reflected in sales.″

Al Fayed said the Punch name would live on through its Web site.

The magazine’s archive and library of 500,000 cartoons will also be maintained, he said.


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