People Enters Daily TV Syndication With Fall 2020 Launch On Meredith Stations

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Barely a year after Meredith Corp. closed its $2.8 billion acquisition of Time Inc., one of the biggest jewels in that crown is entering the daily syndicated TV market through a synergistic new effort.
People, which already has an ad-support…

Can Tech Moguls’ Buying Spree Save Legacy Media Brands Like Time? ‘Depends on the Billionaire’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

As Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, prepare to close their $190 million acquisition of Time Magazine, they joins an ever-expanding club of tech and other non-media billionaires who have decided to dabble in owning legacy media brands.

From Jeff Bezos at the Washington Post to Laurene Powell Jobs at The Atlantic to Patrick Soon-Shiong at the Los Angeles Times to Facebook veteran Chris Hughes at The New Republic, tech moguls have been trying their luck at one of America’s toughest businesses — with mixed success so far.

While some industry experts seem optimism for the new wave of investment in media outlets, others warned that billionaires who made their fortune outside of media may never be able to separate their personal interests from the coverage — or find a sustainable business model in a challenging industry despite their previous success.

“It depends on the billionaire,” Washington Post media reporter and former New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan told TheWrap. Sullivan said that one billionaire who undoubtedly fit the bill was her own boss — Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Also Read: Time Magazine Sold to Salesforce Founder Marc Benioff and Lynne Benioff for $190 Million

“Being owned by Jeff Bezos has been extremely positive for The Post, as far as I can tell. He doesn’t interfere editorially, but has helped substantially on the business/technology front,” she said. “The Post is hiring aggressively, its newsroom numbers are way up, and its journalism is thriving under Marty Baron, who was top editor when Bezos bought the Post in 2013 and remains at the helm today.”

Others are more skepitcal. “Marc Benioff and other tech billionaires may have good intentions, but they should not be purchasing publications,” said Bustle Digital Group chief Bryan Goldberg, who previously founded Bleacher Report and Bustle and is currently planning the relaunch of Gawker.com.

“There is no realistic way for people like Benioff or Bezos to completely separate their companies’ ambitions from those of their news publications,” he said. “To suggest otherwise is total fantasy.”

(Benioff, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment from TheWrap, told the New York Times on Monday, “I’m not going to get involved operationally” in Time Magazine or its editorial content.)

Also Read: New Gawker Media Owner Bryan Goldberg Eyes 2019 Relaunch

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson offered a middle ground, telling TheWrap that while Bezos has made undeniable improvements to the Post, the jury was still out on how tech-based media moguls fare overall.

“It’s too soon to know,” she said. “I think many of the billionaires buying these properties have genuinely good intentions and want to save quality journalism. Of course, none of them like to lose money and it’s still a very tough business. So we will see.”

It’s also no sure bet that wizardry in the tech field will translate to the media space. When Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes purchased The New Republic in 2012, the promises were grand. “We will aggressively adapt to the newest information technologies without sacrificing our commitment to serious journalism,” he said in a letter to staff and readers.

After four tumultuous years — during which he sank more than $20 million into the magazine with no sign of turning a profit — Hughes sold the magazine and admitted that he had “underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate.”

Also Read: Tomi Lahren Admits: I Kicked My Dog 5 Times During Live ‘Fox & Friends’ Appearance (Video)

While benevolent kings certainly have advantages over poorly run public companies, questions of editorial integrity remain. Critics have pointed out that the Washington Post has, from time to time, run content that aligns with the interests of its billionaire chieftain.

For example, the Washington Post used its pages to attack Maryland’s Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and warned that his election would be “cause for concern,” before reporting nine days later that he planned “honor” a series of tax giveaways Amazon was promised in exchange for possibly locating its second corporate headquarters there.

There was also this piece attacking a Sen. Bernie Sanders plan to help defray health care costs by taxing Amazon and other large corporations — which prompted Guardian columnist David Sirota to ask, “Can we please finally admit that there’s a possibility that the WashPost editorial page is at times being used to further the business goals of WashPost owner Jeff Bezos?”

Can we please finally admit that there’s a possibility that the WashPost editorial page is at times being used to further the business goals of WashPost owner Jeff Bezos? https://t.co/oGHChKPXFv

— David Sirota (@davidsirota) September 14, 2018

A rep for the Washington Post did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

Also Read: Jeff Bezos Calls Out President Trump’s ‘Dangerous’ Media Criticism

“The publishing business is facing a temporarily difficult economic climate, and the solution is to continue evolving our business models. The solution is absolutely not to put these magazines in the hands of billionaire tech moguls with political or legislative agenda,” Goldberg said.

“Marc Benioff is a good man with a big heart — but he should continue to focus his philanthropic efforts on hospitals and schools,” he said.

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Meredith Rebrands Time Inc. In-House TV Production Shop As Four M Studios

Read on: Deadline.

Meredith Corp. is continuing its overhaul of Time Inc.’s assets as it fully absorbs the acquisition of the iconic publisher, announcing what it calls a “new look, name and direction” of its in-house TV production company.
The shop, fo…

Meredith Plans 1,200 Layoffs, Will Sell Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune And Money

Read on: Deadline.

Meredith Corp., which bought Time Inc. last year for $1.85 billion, has confirmed plans to lay off 1,200 workers by year-end and explore the sale of four key brands as the integration of the two companies continues.
“We have made significant progress executing on these initiatives since we closed on the acquisition just six weeks ago,” said Meredith President and CEO Tom Harty.
Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Money are all going on the block, as had been rumored, a…

Meredith Laying Off 1,200, Will Explore Sale of Time, SI, Fortune and Money Brands

Read on: Variety.

Six weeks after closing its deal for Time Inc., Meredith announced the layoffs of 200 employees — and said it plans to eliminate another 1,000 positions in the next 10 months. In addition, the media and publishing company confirmed that it will explore the sale of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and Money brands, which are […]

Meredith Plans Up to 300 Layoffs, Mostly at Time Inc

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The Meredith Corporation is planning a corporate bloodbath later this week, with plans to slice between 200 and 300 jobs, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Most of the cuts are expected to hit Time Inc. management, which Meredith acquired in January. Editorial, which usually bears the brunt of these types of cuts, will apparently escape mostly unscathed  — for now.

A spokesperson for Meredith declined to comment on the story.

Also Read: Meredith Buys Time Inc. in $2.8 Billion ‘All-Cash’ Deal

According to the Journal’s Jeffrey Trachtenberg, the layoffs are designed to reduce corporate redundancies between Meredith and its new holdings and trimming Time’s overhead is part of what made the company financially attractive in the first place.

The report also says Meredith is trying to unload other recently acquired properties including Fortune, Time, Sports Illustrated and Money and is not planning any major surgery there for now.

Meredith, a veteran media company, with a stable of magazine and television properties, purchased Time Inc. and its slew of name brand magazines for $2.8 billion. The deal was a major coup for Meredith which had tried and failed twice before to purchase the company.

Also Read: Vice Media Union Calls Company’s Response to Misconduct Claims ‘Deeply Flawed’

Meredith’s successful bid was only facilitated by an infusion of $650 million from Charles and David Koch, two of the world’s richest men and generous GOP fundraisers. It remains unclear what the Kochs’ ultimate intentions are in brokering the purchase.

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Google Launches ‘Visually Rich’ AMP Stories in Search, Akin to Snapchat Stories

Read on: Variety.

Google has officially launched AMP Stories in its search engine, aiming to let media companies deliver more visually exciting content to mobile devices. Publishers that have been working with Google on developing AMP Stories for the web include Time Warner’s CNN, Condé Nast, Hearst, Mashable, Meredith, Mic, Vox Media, and the Washington Post. The format […]

Time Inc., Meredith Shares Rise After Mega-Deal Announced

Read on: Variety.

Investors sent stocks of both Time Inc. and Meredith up Monday, after the companies’ announcement Sunday evening that Meredith reached an agreement to acquire Time Inc. Shares of Time Inc., not surprisingly, opened up 9.2% at $18.45 per share and hovered around there through morning trading. Wall Street responded enthusiastically to Meredith’s move, pushing the […]

Meredith Nears Deal to Buy Time Inc With Backing of Koch Brothers (Report)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Third time may be the charm for media conglomerate Meredith, as the Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens publisher is in talks to purchase Time, Inc. with the backing of billionaire conservative players Charles G. and David H. Koch, the New York Times is reporting.

Negotiations have reportedly been under way for several days, with both sides hoping to reach a deal that can be announced as soon as the end of November. According to the Times, the Koch brothers have agreed tentatively to back Meredith with more than $500 million in equity.

Also Read: AT&T Just Lost $16.5 Billion Ahead of Time Warner Takeover

It’s the third attempt by Meredith to acquire Time Inc.; the two companies nearly reached a deal in 2013 before talks collapsed due to disagreements on which Time, Inc. magazines would be included in the purchase. The companies tried again earlier this year only to see talks once again peter out when Meredtih was unable to secure necessary financing and Time took itself off the market.

The discussion this time was instigated by Time, Inc., whose financial information is currently being examined by Meredith, according to the NYT.

Koch Industries is the second-largest privately operated company in the United States, according to Forbes, with annual sales in excess of $100 billion. The company operates numerous businesses primarily in energy but also finance, minerals, and fertilizers among others.

Meredith’s other magazine properties include Allrecipes and Every Day with Rachel Ray. The company also owns 15 television stations and four radio stations.

Meredith did not immediately respond to requests from TheWrap for comment. Time, inc. declined to comment on the report.

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