More on Time Inc.: Look for cutbacks and magazine sales in ’06

Posted by: Administrator on December 20, 2005

1. What Ann Moore did last week significantly centralizes a business operation that long placed near-mystical power in decentralization. (The company twice went to more centralized structures, in the wake of the original Time Inc./Warner merger and then in the AOL/Time Warner merger. And, well, let’s just say that those instances won’t be written up in biz-school textbooks as exemplifying the success of that approach.)

Moore’s boss and predecessor as Chairman-CEO of Time Inc., Don Logan is a big fan of decentralized approaches. But in a conversation with me (and, I suspect, other reporters as well), Moore repeatedly invoked the variations on the words “de-layering” and “centralize.”

None of this is to say that centralizing power at Time Inc is a bad move. The question is rather if an ever-fragmenting media world requires it now in ways it didn’t five or ten years ago—or if this represents a lunge towards a new strategy after a disappointing year. (Moore confirmed to me that Time Inc., while still posting gains over ‘04’s results, failed to make its budget numbers for 2005.)

2. Look for cutbacks to continue at the company, as David Carr noted in a TimesSelected column yesterday. Specifically: Look for cutbacks to continue further down the food chain.

3. Look for Time Inc. to prune its portfolio—that is, sell some titles—in 2006, judging from what I’m hearing inside and outside the company. In our conversation, Moore made the following point—which I’m paraphrasing, since the transit strike is keeping me from my interview notes—that making little magazines succeed require as much effort as making big magazines succeed. In other words: some of the mags within the Time4Media constellation of small and tightly-niched titles like TransWorld Skateboarding and Saltwater Sportsman? Might not be seeing them within Time Inc. for much longer.

(A Time Inc. spokeswoman declines to comment beyond a general statement saying the portfolio’s always being looked at.)

 

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