Canceling Their Subscription? Time Warner Could Be Planning to Sell Magazine Division, Time Inc.

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February 14, 2013 ‐ By
Former EIC Constance C.R. White with Viola Davis in front of her 2011 Essence cover. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

Former EIC Constance C.R. White with Viola Davis in front of her 2011 Essence cover. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

Word on the street is Time Warner is in talks to sell many of the publications operated by Time Inc., to the possible tune of $2.5 billion. Time Inc. is the country’s largest magazine publisher. Forbes magazine breaks down some of the dollars and cents, but here’s a sample:

-People is the company’s “most profitable title” — and possibly the most profitable magazine in the world — with $997 million in ad revenue last year.

-People en Espanol and People Style Watch are drive almost 25 percent of Time Inc.’s revenue.

-TIME, Sports Illustrated, and Fortune account for about 28 percent of revenue.

-It’s been rumored that Entertainment Weekly could be closing.

-Essence is also a Time Inc. title, and it just lost a number of high-level editors to job cuts, including editor-in-chief Constance C.R. White.

Among the rumored buyers are Warren Buffett, who just today announced that he’d be buying food and condiment company Heinz. Fortune says that Meredith, which publishes Family Circle and Ladies’ Home Journal is the prime purchasing candidate. Forbes says that People wouldn’t be part of the deal.

Poynter.org says that the fate of Essence is TBD. The site says that competitors like Ebony are making moves. And writer Tamara Jeffries, a former Essence staffer, says she’s been of the opinion that Time Inc. didn’t know what to do with the title.

“And here’s the problem: Essence was never a mass product. Essence was a religion. Black women bought it, read it, saved it, shared it,” Jeffries writes. “To keep Essence essential, Time Inc. or a new parent company will need to understand how to do religion as well as it knows how to do magazines.” She thinks Meredith would be a good match.

Fortune says that revenue for the magazine division are down 6.6 percent, which is a “drag” for the parent company.

With relation to the aforementioned layoffs, Time Warner CEO Laura Lang said in a memo on January 30 (via Fortune), “[W]e must continue to transform our company into one that is leaner, more nimble and more innately multi-platform.” The company plans to cut six percent of its staff.

The move to sell the division follows in News Corp.’s footsteps, which split its publishing division from the rest of the company last year because of the smaller numbers it brings in.

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