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来源:经济学家    作者:经济学家   时间:2013-03-11 11:27   点击: 次  

Time Warner's spin out plans

Timed out

JEFF BEWKES, the boss of Time Warner, a large media conglomerate, rarely utters the word “magazine”. Before becoming boss of Time Warner, he oversaw its highly profitable premium television channel, HBO. His passion is TV, not text. Therefore few who know Mr Bewkes were surprised when he announced on March 7th that Time Warner would spin off Time Inc, its magazine unit, by the end of 2013.

Magazines are not where money in media is today. Time Inc, which publishes magazines such as Time, People and Entertainment Weekly, is one of America’s oldest and most iconic magazine companies, but it has become a drag on Time Warner’s bottom line. Last year revenue for Time Inc was $3.4 billion, down 7% from a year earlier and down more than 26% from 2008.

Time Inc has been hit by a difficult economy, ailing advertising and uninspired leadership. Laura Lang, Time Inc’s boss who formerly ran Digitas, a digital advertising agency, took over after Jack Griffin was fired. Few felt Ms Lang ever had a real vision for what Time Inc should become. She will step down when Time Inc becomes its own public company.

The decision to spin off Time Inc came after negotiations with Meredith, another magazine publisher, which specialises in women’s magazines, collapsed. Time Warner originally wanted to keep control of titles that had synergies with its cable properties, such as Time and Sports Illustrated, but later rethought that strategy.

A deal with Meredith would have been “an elegant solution”, says Peter Kreisky, a media consultant and former advisor to Time Inc. Meredith had synergies with many of Time Inc’s titles. The combined companies could have consolidated some of their magazines, editorial staffs and advertising sales teams. Earlier this year Time Inc already announced it would lay off 6% of its work force.

Now Time Inc must face the world, and shareholders, alone. Time Inc has been buttressed by Time Warner’s flush TV divisions. That is not unlike what has happened at News Corporation, a rival media conglomerate that is controlled by Rupert Murdoch. In June News Corp will split into two companies and separate its publishing assets from its film and TV business. Other media companies are also looking to offload print. The Tribune Company is trying to sell its newspapers to focus on its TV assets. Divorce is hard, especially when it is spelled out in print.

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