Increasingly, television has been having an uneasy relationship with print media -- especially in big media companies.
And so Time Warner is looking to sell off a number -- maybe all -- of its iconic Time Inc. magazines. Recently, News Corp. had similar news, saying it would spin off its newspaper assets from its film and TV businesses.
Other smaller local TV groups went the same way years before.
A.H. Belo separated its TV stations business from its newspaper assets in 2008. The same year, E. W. Scripps Company realized it was better for its growing cable networks HGTV, Food Network and Fine Living (now Cooking Channel) to be better alone as Scripps Networks Interactive than to be attached to its newspaper or TV station assets.
Nicer words -- such as "slower moving," "traditional" or "value" -- might be attached to those print businesses on the outs. The story isn't over yet. With the digital transition still moving, those print assets may have the last laugh.
Surely, the current public stock market has a lot to do with the latest moves by Time Warner and News Corp. Investors in closely watched big media companies are demanding a lot more right now -- and quickly, every quarterly earnings period.
Executives say it's about "maximizing value." Yes, if Time Warner can get $2.5 billion for its magazines…if it can save $100 million through layoffs…if it can free its earnings reports from continued print losses, the sale will do its job -- for shareholders.
Long ago, when media companies were being put together, it seemed that TV, newspapers and magazines offered a firm level of media synergy. At the time, this included much praise for AOL’s merger with Time Warner. Everything is about selling advertising, right? Surely this sounded better than a company that combined microwaves and TV programming.
Perhaps a bigger issue is what might happen 10 or 15 years from now. Will TV be in the same position that print media is in today, with digital media owners looking to jettison certain parts of their companies? Maybe digital media and TV aren't necessarily the best companions?
Long-term-looking soothsayers probably have a better idea -- unless those forecasting companies are looking to divest.