Owners of print media finally have started to do what they have threatened to do since advertising in the sector began a sharp and relentless drop a half a decade ago. In an admission that these businesses have a bleak future, a huge part of the print industry has been put up for sale, either to public shareholders or private interests. In cases where a sale is not an exit, cost cuts have been the favorite solution. The restructuring of print has begun in earnest.
The news that Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) will spin out Time Inc. proves just how dismayed smart executives at media companies are with magazines and newspapers. The same holds true for the News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWSA) spin-off of a business made up mostly of its print units, which includes Dow Jones. The Tribune Company, just out of Chapter 11, wants to keep its broadcast properties and jettison its newspapers, which include some of America's largest dailies, among them the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.
Those parent companies who cannot or do not want to sell have begun brutal retrenchments. Advance Publications has shut its paper in Ann Arbor, cut the publishing frequency of its newspaper in New Orleans, and probably will do the same with its properties in Cleveland and New Jersey.
Even in the part of the industry that caters to the high end of the market - a group of people and businesses that can afford subscriptions and advertising - cuts have begun. The Financial Times, among the most widely regarded business media in the world, will eliminate staff in the United Kingdom and United States. The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) continues to reduce its workforce. Dow Jones has indicated it will combine much of its news service staff with that of The Wall Street Journal.
As more and more of the print industry has to stand on its own, it will have to resort to new means to improve profits more quickly than in the past. Bottom line problems cannot be offset by the better performance of cable, TV or studio results, as they were at Time Warner, which owns CNN, HBO, and Turner and others.
For print properties that now have to stand alone, the urgency to find solutions to sales and profit problems has increased immensely.
Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Old Media Tagged: featured, NWSA, TWX