Media Deconsolidation, Part 14: Time Warner Without Time?

by on September 21, 2006

In parts 8 and 12 of this series, I’ve discussed Time Warner’s ongoing problems in what was suppose to be mass media paradise. The mega-merger that critics decried as “Big Brother,” “the end of the independent press,” and a harbinger of a “new totalitarianism” has turned out to be anything but. $100 billion in lost market cap by 2003 alone, AOL bleeding subscribers, and talk of spinning off the cable division have all led Time Warner President Jeff Bewkes to declare the death of “synergy.” More poignantly, he went so far as to call synergy “bullshit”!

And now the oldest members of this marriage – - Time and Warner – - may actually be considering a divorce too. Just last week Time announced that it was putting 18 of its 50 magazines up for sale. And, according to David Carr of the New York Times, the fire sale may not be over:

“[C]urrent realities and pressure from shareholders suggest that Time Inc. will either become a smaller, more profitable division of a public company or it will be in play. A very large boat will have to be turned around very quickly with little additional investment. There will be no big magazine start-ups, no significant acquisitions, only the grinding, dangerous task of taking some of the most storied brands in publishing and making them relevant at a time of rapidly changing consumer and advertising dynamics.”

It’s just another sign of how dynamic the media marketplace really is. See my last book for more details.

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