EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: The city of Miami isn’t officially known for prudery, but local Niche Media glossy Ocean Drive found its limits with a fashion banner bearing the September cover. Shot by Michael Thompson, model Hana Soukupova appears wearing only Wolford fishnet stockings. Perhaps it was their open weave that led the city to reject the banners, which usually run on major arteries, arguing they could cause traffic accidents. Curiously, the city of Miami Beach had no such compunctions, so two versions fly in South Florida — the original, and a more demure one made for Miami.
— Irin Carmon
This story first appeared in the August 28, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
STAYING PUT: Though vogue.com just received an upgrade along with the redesign of Style.com, the changes will not extend to Vogue finding a home outside of Style.com. CondéNet editorial director Jamie Pallot confirmed that vogue.com will stay a part of Style.com for the foreseeable future. CondéNet has peeled a number of individual magazine Web sites from destination sites such as Concierge.com and Epicurious.com this year; w.com broke away from Style.com last winter and was followed by Gourmet and Bon Appetit. But now that vogue.com is the only magazine on Style.com, breaking off to a separate site became less urgent. Viewers will continue to access vogue.com at Style.com/vogue.
— Stephanie D. Smith
DELAYING THE INEVITABLE?: American Media Inc. is back in the headlines, but this time around it has nothing to do with the National Enquirer or John Edwards. The company issued a statement Wednesday, following a report in the New York Post, saying it is potentially refinancing its notes and giving bondholders the possibility of warrants in the company’s stock, which could represent 20 percent of AMI’s outstanding shares. In essence, AMI and its chief executive officer, David Pecker, are buying time — two more years, to be exact — to right the ship and improve operating results. The refinancing incorporates a combination of $250 million of senior notes due in 2013, $15.9 million of special senior subordinated discount notes due in 2013 and up to $340 million of mandatory, convertible senior subordinated discount notes, also set to mature in 2013. The company reported that 32.6 percent of bondholders in one class support the plan, while 51 percent of another class is behind it. AMI has set a deadline of Sept. 25 for the offer.
AMI has $400 million worth of bonds set to mature on May 1 and the clock was ticking on a decision — bondholders weren’t holding their breath, but they expected something to happen by the end of September, at the earliest. The statement Wednesday from AMI came as a surprise to some on Wall Street — bonds for one of the publisher’s $150 million notes, due in 2011, had not traded since June 23 and there has been no trading on the soon-to-mature $400 million notes since Aug. 6. According to one analyst, it’s a quiet time of year, but he expected there would have been some activity in the notes, given the importance of the announcement.
Earlier this month, AMI reported first-quarter net profits of $388,000, compared with a net loss of $123,000 in the same period a year ago. Revenues were down 2 percent to $119 million and Pecker said AMI’s ad pages were down 3.2 percent from Jan. 1 through July 31, claiming it was the smallest decline of any publisher with more than 3,000 ad pages.
— Amy Wicks
ROLLING ON: Feeling the effects of a troubled music industry and overall economic recession, Wenner Media switched out publishers at Rolling Stone on Wednesday, moving Men’s Journal publisher Will Schenck over to replace Ray Chelstowski. The move comes as ad pages for the biweekly magazine through Aug. 21 have shrunk by 20 percent compared with the same period a year ago, to 665 pages, according to figures from Media Industry Newsletter. Aside from the overall economy crippling advertising across most of print, the music industry’s consolidation and declining album sales also have negatively affected music magazines. Rolling Stone’s monthly competitors aren’t faring much better. Through September, Blender’s ad pages have declined 22 percent, to 388 pages; Vibe’s ad pages have fallen 18 percent, to 579. Spin is actually reporting an 8 percent climb, to 488 ad pages. In addition to the falling ad business, Rolling Stone in mid-October will cut its trim size back from its classic oversize format to a standard size, a move many assumed was a cost-cutting measure, but the company claims it will “yield more editorial pages, higher-quality paper stock and wider advertising opportunities.”
Schenck has had more success at Men’s Journal, where ad pages have increased 11 percent for the year through September, to 922. Schenck joined Men’s Journal in 2003 as associate publisher and was promoted to publisher in October 2005. He also has held sales positions at Vanity Fair, Talk and Gourmet. A successor to Schenck at Men’s Journal has not been named, but sources close to Wenner point to Wenner corporate sales executive Matt Mastrangelo as a strong candidate.