Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Joan Voight, August 19, 2009, 10:27 PM
  • 'Vogue,' 'Traveler' Get Special Scrutiny From McKinsey New York Observer

    As McKinsey consultants evaluate the Condé Nast empire, they are paying special attention to Anna Wintour's Vogue and Klara Glowczewska's Condé Nast Traveler. Those two magazines have been getting a close examination in order to potentially serve as models for how the company will revamp its business, say insiders. It is expected that lessons learned from those two studies will inspire what changes are made throughout the organization.

    Why those two? Vogue, the ad-heavy breadwinner, is seen as being reflective of a bigger magazine. Traveler, with its moderately hefty staff, is smaller than Vogue and considered reflective of a midsize magazine. Also, as Condé Nast tries to catch up with competition on the Web, both Vogue and Traveler are illustrative of the company's unusual Web strategy: Vogue is represented online by and Traveler by, rather than by their own brand names. Read the whole story...

  • Tribune's Employees Ownership Plan to Evaporate New York Post

    A short-lived experiment with newspaper employee ownership is coming to an end. With Tribune navigating the bankruptcy process, its creditors are expected to dump the company's employee stock ownership plan, leaving workers with worthless shares, say insiders.

    In 2007, real-estate tycoon Sam Zell used the stock plan, called an ESOP, to gain tax benefits on his $8.2 billion buyout of the company. The plan made employees official owners, with 100% of the equity but no say over management or the board. However, in the bankruptcy, the staffers are viewed as common shareholders with less claim than other creditors.

    Experts say it is important to note that workers didn't directly fund the plan. Instead, the company agreed to make contributions like it would to other benefit plans, such as a 401(k) or pension. The contributions were supposed to be invested in Tribune stock. But Tribune filed for bankruptcy before it made its first contribution. Read the whole story...

  • Parents Group Mad at 'Mad Men' Time

    Another sign of "Mad Men's" rising buzz: it has scored a complaint from the Parents Television Council, which says the show got a TV-14 rating when it should have been rated for mature audiences only. There were racy elements to this season's first episode, sure, "but nothing unprecedented in graphicness for the show," writes TV critic James Poniewozik.

    Perhaps the PTC's attention was been drawn by the fact that the episode featured a big kiss between two gay men. Or could the complaint be an attempt to piggyback on the show's substantial pre-season publicity?

    Actually, "the PTC has several points. Yeah, I probably would not screen the show for an average 14-year-old," concludes Poniewozik. But what 14-year-old is actually interested in watching "moody period pieces about the social mores of affluent suburbs in the 1960s? For whom is this actually a serious concern?" Read the whole story...

  • YouTube, Time Warner Strike Deal All Things Digital

    Google's YouTube video site has hammered out a deal with Time Warner to show clips from the media conglomerate's cable networks, TV shows and movies. The arrangement follows the same rough template as deals YouTube has forged with Sony and Disney: the content providers get to embed their own video player within YouTube and control ad sales.

    But you won't be seeing full-length shows or movies from Time Warner on the video site--it's saving those for cable companies that play along with its "TV Everywhere" plan. If you want to see the whole thing, you'll have to watch them on your TV set or via Web experiments like the one Comcast is trying out for its subscribers.

    YouTube has been trying to get networks and studios to give up full-length stuff and hasn't had a lot of luck, at least not compared to the offerings at Hulu. Read the whole story...

  • News Corp., Scripps, NBC To Bid for Travel Channel Bloomberg

    Among bidders for Cox's Travel Channel are News Corp., Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. and NBC Universal. First-round bids were due Tuesday. Time Warner Inc. may consider making a bid later in the process, say sources.

    As soon as next month, selected bidders will get access to the channel's financial data and the parties will then submit final bids after due diligence. Cox Communications said in June that it had received unsolicited inquiries about the Travel Channel Media unit and subsequently hired Goldman Sachs to evaluate its options. Hale Holden, Barclays Capital analyst, has put the channel's value at $600 million to $700 million.

    Travel Channel, home of "Man v. Food" and "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," reaches more than 90 million homes. It has averaged 474,000 viewers during primetime this year, per Nielsen. Read the whole story...

  • '60 Minutes' Creator Hewitt Turned TV News Profitable The Washington Post

    The news yesterday was filled with notices about the death of "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt, 86, an industry pioneer. Hewitt transformed television journalism by showing that news programs could generate money. He also helped make TV an essential part of politics when he produced and directed the first televised debate between U.S. presidential candidates.

    Hewitt spent his career at CBS News and directed programs of early TV news giants Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. With the debut of "60 Minutes" in 1968, Hewitt merged elements of news and entertainment and shattered the traditional view that news divisions were run as a public trust with little concern for income. His key insight was to combine the prestige surrounding the network's documentary unit with the editorial and visual pacing of an entertainment show.

    Hewitt also was a central voice in the 1990s debates over corporate censorship in journalism when network executives interfered with a "60 Minutes" segment on a tobacco industry whistleblower. Hewitt's impact on television was almost unparalleled, says Marvin Kalb, founding director of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and a former news reporter for CBS. Read the whole story...