A relations official at Viz last week, in an e-mail to Animerica advertisers and other partners of the company, sent a warning regarding the practices of Mixx Communications, and their magazines "Mixxzine" and "Smile", quoting an unnamed former Mixx employee.
The e-mail makes allegations of fraud on the part of the Mixx company by the use of the circulation numbers made available to potential and current advertisers. "Mixx is selling Smile ads under the claim of a circulation of 50,000," said the source, indicating the company's one-issue-old magazine for girls. "The total print was 20,000, and a good 12,000 of those were newsstand sales."
The source also takes aim at established Mixx publication Mixxzine, which "claims 100,000-person circulation," but goes onto mention that the August-September issue only made a printing run of 25,000 issues, and 5,000 of those were used as give-aways at AnimeExpo. (It also claims that 5,000 of them were subscriptions, 7,000 was sold through Diamond, and the rest were sold to various news stands.)
Further, the Viz official noted that according to the November issue of Diamond Dialogue, a trade publication that follows comic sales, the 12/98-1/99 issue of Mixxzine (volume 2-3) was rated at number 210, putting it below 9,000 issues sold through the retail distributor.
If the allegations are true, the effect on Mixx could be dire. "Mixx is unaudited and so advertisers cannot verify circulation by themselves," said the source. "If Mixx were asked to show even a print order or galley they could only show a fifth of what they are claiming as circulation."
In an e-mail response to ANN, Mixx Entertainment president Stuart Levy said, "Our readership numbers are calculated based on industry practice and support the excellent value that all our advertisers receive by participating in our advertising programs. We are very disappointed by this unprofessional move made by one of our competitors. We earnestly hope that they are willing to take the necessary steps to avoid the unnecessary litigation that we will otherwise be forced to initiate."
Viz is owned by Shogakuken, the large Japanese publishing firm that produces such popular manga as Ranma 1/2 and Fushigi Yûgi. Mixx Entertainment was formed in 1996 with the aid of the University of Southern California Annenberg Incubator project, and is currently a major licensor of Japanese publishing firm Kodansha.