Mag Bag: American Media Finds Last-Minute Savior

National InquirerAmerican Media Finds Last-Minute Savior

American Media Inc. has struck a refinancing deal that will probably allow it to avoid declaring bankruptcy, according to the Wall Street Journal Web site, which first reported the news Thursday. The publisher of the National Enquirer, Star, and Shape has lined up backing from its lenders for a new bond offering that will refinance $570 million of its total debt of over $1 billion, WSJ writes.

Per the terms of the deal, creditors can exchange their existing debt for bond notes that will pay a higher interest rate; they can also take ownership of up to 20% of the company. AMI earlier said that it would have to begin selling assets if it was not allowed to refinance $389.5 million of its debt by February of next year.

In addition to effectively breaking up the company, this would be a dicey proposition for some lenders, as the sale of revenue-earning properties would decrease the chances of repayment in the long run.



Like other big magazine publishers, AMI is feeling the effects of an economic slowdown combined with a secular decline in the magazine business. According to the most recent figures from MIN Online, the National Enquirer's ad pages are down 10.7% through August 25 to 546, while Star is down 3% to 789. Bimonthly Shape is down 5.2% to 970 pages.

Rick Warren May Launch Mag with RDA

Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor who recently hosted a dual interview with Barack Obama and John McCain, is negotiating with Reader's Digest Association to launch a magazine drawing on the world view he described in his book "The Purpose-Driven Life," according to the Web site of Portfolio, which reported the rumor Monday.

Per this report, the magazine--tentatively titled Purpose-- will be edited by Joe Treen, formerly of People and Discover. However, RDA and a spokeswoman for Warren were cagey about the project, refusing to confirm that a new publication will launch or give any details about timing.v

U.S. News College Rankings Double Online Page Views

The online package for U.S. News Media Group's annual college ranking has doubled the number of page views during its first day, compared to the same period last year. The Web site and its sub-sites garnered over 15 million page views in the first 24 hours following its release on August 22, according to Bill Holiber, the publisher of U.S. Media Group.

Altogether, the college-ranking site contains over 100,000 individual searchable pages of content, including reams of data on different institutions, now with increased sorting capabilities. This year saw a re-launch of the college rankings in print and online, coinciding with their 25th anniversary.

ESPN Rebrands, Relaunches Rise

ESPN has relaunched Rise magazine, integrating the ESPN brand into the publication targeting high school athletes. Now titled ESPN Rise, the rebranded magazine will help raise ESPN's profile among teenagers. ESPN produces several dozen regional editions of the magazine covering high school sports. ESPN is also upping the mag's circulation from 910,000 to 1 million, with expanded distribution in New Jersey, Arizona, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon.

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