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March 24, 2017

Publishing News

Time Inc. Delays Board Director Nominations
NY Post's Keith Kelly reports: "The Time Inc. board is talking with 'multiple parties' as a potential selloff moves to its final stages, according to a source close to the situation. Even as it does, there are indications that Jana Partners, the sometimes activist hedge fund that owns at least 5 percent of Time, is getting restless. Time is still pushing the concept of selling to one buyer, even as it appears that some potential purchasers would prefer a bust-up. In one significant move, Time late Thursday changed the deadline for nominating members to the board of directors from March 23 to April 21. It also pushed back its shareholders meeting from early June to June 29. One source speculated that was done to allow Jana boss Barry Rosenstein and other activists to push for a new board should a deal not get done. The extension, the source speculated, was meant to avoid creating tension around the ongoing sale process. At the same time, “it creates pressure on the board to accept whatever is on the table.” Meredith is the lead bidder but has not yet wrapped up a deal. “There are two buyers that have a different interest in acquiring different properties,” said one financial player close to the talks. That leaves the door open. One person lurking on the periphery is American Media Inc.’s David Pecker, sources are whispering to The Post’s Josh Kosman. Pecker is out trying to raise money possibly as a way into the process at the eleventh hour, the sources said. An AMI spokesman shoots down that rumor: 'Not true.' The only other known bidder is a team of Phoenix-based Najafi Cos., headed by Jahm Najafi, and London-based Pamplona Capital Management, headed by Moscow-born Alexander Knaster..."

Time Magazine Hires Eight, Promotes 12
In a memo, Nancy Gibb, editor-in-chief of Time, announced that the magazine is hiring eight staff and promoting 12 existing staff as a result of "a truly banner year, with historic levels of readership and a continuing run of strong covers, from this week’s 'Is Truth Dead?' blockbuster to one that inspired a Madame Tussauds reenactment." She continued: "In February, Time's domestic audience increased 40% year-over-year, according to comScore. We also raked in 73M video streams across platforms, including 14.3M streams onsite—nearly double the year-ago numbers. Our readers are coming to devour subjects across our topic verticals, including in February, noisy eating, the Oscars, Grammys and Bret Stephens’ Daniel Pearl lecture. March is also showing terrific results so far too..." Six of the new staff will join the title's "growing digital news desk, led by Dan Hirschhorn and staffed collectively by editors and reporters from Time, Fortune and Money," Gibbs wrote. One major promotion: Alex Altman was named deputy bureau chief in Washington, D.C. Adweek's article lists all of the new and promoted staff.

Job Cuts Commencing at US Weekly
NY Post: AMI, "the soon-to-be owners of US Weekly, are sharpening the ax. On Thursday, 38 editorial people, including editor-in-chief Michael Steele, were told they are getting the old heave-ho, sources tell [Keith Kelly]. But they have to keep working for the next few weeks until the deal officially closes and American Media Inc. delivers the $100M check to Jann Wenner. Meanwhile, AMI boss David Pecker and National Enquirer EIC Dylan Howard are inviting the 42 editorial people who survived the ax to lunch at swanky Le Bernardin on Friday to meet their new bosses. Steele--aware of the anger directed at Wenner and his son, Gus Wenner, for never addressing the full staff after the sale was announced--made sure he called each staffer individually into his office Thursday to deliver the news on whether he or she was being let go or offered a job. 'A class act,' one of the laid-off staff said of Steele. The soon-to-be-pink-slipped US team did put out this week’s cover--and it is likely to give Trump-supporting Pecker some agita. The headline screams: “Separate Bedrooms—Melania's Secrets." The story claims that the first couple are leading largely separate lives. One insider said he did not think the anti-Trump cover this week caused their demise. 'We were all gone anyway,' said the staffer. Among the senior staff facing the ax with Steele: editorial director Jaimee Zanzinger, creative director Victor Thompson, deputy editor April Bernard, photography director Jennifer Halper, entertainment director Ian Drew, West Coast bureau chief Rebecca Bienstock, deputy editor Mara Reinstein and senior writer Eric Andersson... publisher Vicci Lasdon Rose and all of her ad staff are being invited to join AMI. So is most of the digital staff. In all, about 80 people are being asked to join AMI."

Why A&E Wants to Operate More Like a Magazine Publisher
Ad Age: "A&E Networks quietly hired 'editors-in-chief' earlier this year. The cabler, whose channels include Lifetime and History, isn't launching a magazine, but it does want to operate more like a publisher. And during this year's upfront, A&E Networks wants advertisers to view the company less as a collection of TV businesses and more as storytellers. The company, which makes its pitch to advertisers and agencies on Tuesday night, is focusing its efforts on creating culturally relevant brands, starting with its Lifetime and History networks. There has been a shift internally to refocus on a clear target audience and mission so that the networks become more like voices in the broader conversation than standard TV properties, said Amanda Hill, chief marketing officer, A&E Networks. To do that, its editors-in-chief and their teams are creating thematic content areas, such as 'Women in Tech' at Lifetime, designed to imitate the channels of digital publishers. 'Most TV brands are a result of what our shows are,' said Peter Olsen, exec VP-national ad sales, A&E Networks. 'Print brands in the digital space have more of a voice and intimacy with their audience. It has always been shows first and brands second, we are trying to flip that''...
Ad Age 

ASME to Sponsor 2017 Scholarship at Yale Publishing Course
The American Society of Magazine Editors announced that it will sponsor a full-tuition scholarship for the Yale Publishing Course for the sixth year in a row. Applications are now being accepted for this year's "Strategies in Magazine Media" course, to be held July 23-28 at the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Conn. this is the sixth year ASME has sponsored a scholarship for the program. newly formed partnership between Yale Publishing Course (YPC) and the Yale School of Management (SOM) promises to enrich the learning experience. The university is also now accepting applications for the program's book publishing course, to be held July 30–Aug. 4.

Tronc Buys Back Stock from Oaktree Capital
NY Post: "Tronc appears to have paid a handsome ransom to rid itself of Oaktree Capital, a dissident shareholder that had lobbied furiously for a $1 billion sale to Gannett. The deal ultimately unraveled over financing, and Oaktree threatened to take Tronc and Chairman Michael Ferro to court. Thursday, the Tronc board approved a $15-a-share buyout of Oaktree’s 3.75M shares, a premium over Tronc’s $13.16 share close. Under terms of the agreement, Oaktree and Tronc will not to take legal action against each other..."


Retail News

Instacart Settles Class Action for $4.6B
PG: "Instacart will settle a $4.6M class action and change how it explains fees to customers, Recode has reported. Independent contractors working for the San Francisco-based company claimed 18 violations, including “improper tip pooling and failure to reimburse workers for business expenses,” the news outlet reported. Instacart still denies claims against it. Three workers actively involved in the class action will receive $5,000 each, with the rest getting either $1,000 or $500 each. Those not named in the suit will receive up to roughly $200 each. Additionally, Recode reported that Instacart must alter the way it describes its new service fee, which has upset workers due to poor communication to customers that the fee is actually a tip. Also poorly communicated is where customers actually are supposed to tip delivery people..."

SpartanNash Promotes Two Top Execs
PG: SpartanNash has promoted its company treasurer, Bill Jacobs, to VP of treasury and corporate development, and Mike Pahud, CFO of its Caito Foods division, to COO of this operation.

Costco Treads Carefully in E-Commerce
SN: Costco's partnership with Shipt to deliver grocery products in the Tampa, Fla., market "illustrates the retailer’s latest effort to find its way in the rapidly evolving world of e-commerce. The Issaquah, Wash.-based membership club has long been a poster child for success in the bricks-and-mortar world, but it is still in the early stages of translating those results online. “Costco is generally behind on its online development when compared with Sam’s Club or Walmart, in some ways by design,” said Tim Campbell, an analyst at Kantar Retail. “An overzealous online strategy could cannibalize its in-club sales as members would shop more on and less in the club.” In fact, in recent earnings calls Costco has noted that in markets where it has partnered with third-party delivery services such as Google Express and Instacart, the number of trips its loyal members make to its stores has declined..."

Senate Approves Bill Allowing ISPs to Sell Personal Consumer Data
Washington Post: " Senate lawmakers voted Thursday to repeal a historic set of rules aimed at protecting consumers' online data from their own Internet providers, in a move that could make it easier for broadband companies to sell and share their customers' usage information for advertising purposes. The rules, which prohibit providers from abusing the data they gather on their customers as they browse the Web on cellphones and computers, were approved last year over objections from Republicans who argued the regulations went too far..."


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