BAD NEWS ALL AROUND: Media companies, like everyone else, were hit hard Monday by the collapse in congressional efforts to pass the $700 billion bailout plan. Shares in News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, sank 9.6 percent to close at $11.77, while the New York Times Co. fell 3.8 percent to $14.35, and shares in The Washington Post Co. dropped 4.2 percent to $540. Over at Time Warner Inc., shares fell 9.2 percent to $12.90.
And, in further bad news for print media, today’s edition of The New York Sun will be its last. The broadsheet, which published its first issue a few months after Sept. 11, 2001, with backing from the likes of former press baron/now convict Conrad Black, didn’t get the necessary funding it needed to stay in business. “Nearly seven years later, our editors and backers are even more of the view that there is indeed a place for the kind of intelligent, thoughtful broadsheet we envision in our city, which is why we are scrambling to find others who share this vision and the sense of possibility,” wrote editor in chief Seth Lipsky, in a letter to readers that ran on Sept. 4. “If we fail, the newspaper and its voice will die. All the more energetic will be our efforts in the coming weeks to ensure that the conversation we’ve begun these past few years will continue.” But with the stock and credit markets being what they are, no more money to back the paper could be found. — Amy Wicks
This story first appeared in the September 30, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
DUBAI STILL HAS LOTS OF MONEY: With massive consolidation in the U.S. financial sector and oil prices still high, Doubledown Media is heading to where the money is. The publisher of Trader Monthly and Dealmaker started printing the former in Dubai this summer, and now it has revealed plans to launch the second title there, too. Randall Lane, president, said both magazines will be sent to a targeted group of readers — all of whom easily have an annual household income north of $600,000. “We’ve seen readers grow in the emerging markets,” said Lane. “It’s really become a global community.”
To publish the Middle Eastern editions, Doubledown has partnered with a Dubai-based start-up, International Media Ventures. Launch advertisers for Dealmaker include Omega, Bentley and Infiniti. The company also publishes both magazines in the U.K., although the financial sector there isn’t any better than its U.S. cousin’s. “Our readers are more likely to be transferred to London, Hong Kong or Dubai than, say, Toledo,” said Lane. “We are expanding globally. We’ve seen a lot of interest in what we do. We’re certainly not slowing down.” — A.W.
NO TAKEOFF JUST YET: After a decision Friday night by New York State Supreme Court judge Richard Lowe 3rd blocked The Weinstein Co. from moving “Project Runway” to Lifetime from Bravo for its sixth season, plenty of questions still swirled on Monday. What does the ruling mean for Marie Claire, the reported magazine partner for season six? For the title’s fashion director, Nina Garcia, the bridge between Marie Claire and the hit reality show? For guest judges such as Lindsay Lohan, who reportedly have committed to appear on the next season? For advertisers?
What it means is that nothing changes, everything stays the same and season six filming goes on, just without a home. For now. The Weinstein Co. is appealing the decision, which could mean it gets reversed and the show moves to Lifetime after all. “Obviously we will be appealing and remain committed to our partners,” the company said.
Production for season six began in the middle of this month in Los Angeles and will continue through mid-October: Season six is scheduled to air in January (the finale of season five will air on Bravo in November). Some plans for the show’s guest stars and sponsorships reportedly have been finalized: Marie Claire is said to be the magazine partner for season six, though The Weinstein Co. has yet to confirm the deal. Advertisers, meanwhile, have taken the news in stride. Said one top television buyer, who requested anonymity: “I don’t think anybody is freaking out, because the show is still being produced.”
Any advertisers who negotiated integrated deals with the show likely finalized terms months ago and will still move forward. “When you’re doing an integration, you have to work with the show’s producers and the sales force,” the buyer said. What could be in jeopardy is any additional ad dollars a marketer spent with Lifetime to support any product integration on “Project Runway.” “Those dollars are most in limbo, because those could disappear if the show disappears” and head to whatever new network “Project Runway” would air on.
As part of the decision Friday, NBC Universal was ordered to pay a $20 million bond. NBC Universal and The Weinstein Co. are due back in court Oct. 15 for a hearing to schedule resolution of the matter, though some believe the parties could settle the matter beforehand to ensure the sixth season airs. Said the media buyer: “I would not be surprised if money were exchanged between the two networks.” — Stephanie D. Smith
NEW AT ASME: The American Society of Magazine Editors created a new staff position to lead the group, appointing Sid Holt as chief executive officer. Holt was most recently editor at go2 Media, a mobile content publisher, and also has served as editorial director of Nielsen Business Media and executive vice president and editor in chief of Adweek magazines. He was managing editor of Rolling Stone from 1990 to 1997. Marlene Kahan, who has served as executive director for 18 years, will now report to Holt. — Irin Carmon