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Time Warner's Long Game

Files for Sale of Magazines

Published: 11/26/2013 12:45am
Time Warner plans to spin off Time Inc., its magazine division, into a new public company in 2014, according to documents filed by the company last week as reported by Bloomberg.  The move will complete the divestiture of substantially all the print assets of Time Warner except for DC Comics, a process that was begun in 2006 when the book group, which included Warner Books and Little Brown, was sold to Hachette for $537.5 million (see "Time Warner Book Group Sold"). 

Time Warner made the decision to sell its magazines back in March, after discussions with Meredith about creating a new magazine publishing company targeting women, which would have involved some of Time Inc.’s assets.  Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes spoke of the benefits of selling all the magazine titles in a statement at the time.  "A complete spinoff of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc., enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile," he said.  No word on whether "Time" will be removed from the company's name after the spin-off. 

Time Warner has been playing the long game to get to the kind of company it is now in the final stages of building.  It began the effort to sell its book division in 2003 (see "AOL-TW Nixes Book Sale"), finished in 2006, and is selling its magazines in 2014.  That carries the strategy through two CEOs, so the direction has been deeper in the company's DNA than the person at the top.

DC Comics came into Time Warner through Warner Bros., which was acquired by then DC parent Kinney National Company in the 1960s, and has been part of the film studio, and the studio’s culture, ever since.  Bewkes’ statement that Time Warner will now be able to focus entirely on its film and TV businesses indicates how DC is viewed:  as a development house for media properties. 

The planned move to Burbank (see "DC's Nelson: 'Practicallly We Will Not Be Missing Out on Anything'") completes DC’s connection with the film and TV business and severs DC’s old connections to the publishing industry in New York.  That’s not inherently a bad thing, but a sign of the focus that Time Warner is bringing to the task of exploiting the stories that are still published in 32 page comics each month. 


 
 
 
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