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Les Moonves is trying too hard

Published: Sunday, July 06, 2008

There are many questions hanging over Viacom and CBS, both were separated in an effort to create shareholder value and in our opinion to end the battle of the successors between Les Moonves and Tom Freston who at the time were Co- CEOs of the combined company known as Viacom. Since the companies went their separate ways, the only thing that was created was more headaches for all parties involved. Both companies have been struggling to gain footing along with its competitors. CBS CEO Les Moonves spent big trying to land CBS on the good foot but none of his well publicized acquisitions has added any value to CBS that is worth mentioning. Some of his most recent splurges include the purchase of Wall Street blog, Wallstrip.com which to this day we still don’t get. He scooped up Lastfm.com only to re-launch it with much fanfare promoting its new free internet radio format, something already available all over the web. There is the whole Katie Couric hiring which failed big time and is costing the company a lot of money due to her salary and ad dollars. His most recent splurge was on Cnet Networks, a digital media company which produces websites like, Cnet.com, Chow.com and ZDnet.com. As far as CBS’s whole digital push, its Les Moonves swinging at marble sized balls with a broom stick hoping for a direct hit. These expensive splurges and CBS’s lack of love on Wall Street at the moment will ultimately lead to Moonves’ ouster. Hell. we think Sumner Redstone’s finger is already on the trigger. We campaigned (if you will) for Les Moonves when he was the shining star in Sumner Redstone’s eye.

We called for him to be installed in dual rolls as CEO of both CBS and Viacom. But that was just us being naïve and jumping on the bandwagon (yeah we have the balls to admit it). But what seems to have happened here is that Les Moonves got a little too sure of himself and got a big head to go along with an even bigger ego. This is the man who spent big to get into the record business by re-launching CBS Records when the record business was trying to get out of the record business. This is the man who spent big to get into film with high salary hires. Les Moonves was trying too hard to please and in doing so, spent money where he didn’t need to, or perhaps shouldn’t have at all. Les Moonves is just an analog executive trying to survive in digital world and in doing so gambled big, not only with company money but perhaps with his job as well. Some of the things Moonves should consider moving forward if he is still around is to spin off the radio business and sell book publisher Simon & Schuster. Doing this would probably tighten the focus at CBS a bit. Moonves needs to also hold off on anymore Internet acquisitions. Sumner Redstone can’t be too happy with Moonves at the moment.

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Extreme Makeover: Time Inc Edition

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2008

There is no doubt that changes are needed at Time Warner’s magazine publishing unit Time Inc. This is the division that has gone mostly untouched for sometime now. Under current CEO Ann Moore, the company unloaded its enthusiast titles to Bonnier Corp, launched and folded the well hyped OfficePirates.com, re-launched and folded Life (which is supposed to re-launch again as Getty Images type web destination), killed Business 2.0 and pink slipped dozens of staffers. OK so all this is business as usual in the magazine industry and not attributed to Moore’s management style. We all know It’s no secret that when a company is looking to cut costs they look to layoff staffers first to fluff up the bottom line. But is that all the shuffling we will see at Time Inc? The company is legendary and publishes 125 titles, and has a slew of businesses in fulfillment, content solutions, retail sales and marketing, customer acquisition and the list goes on. We are not sure how these businesses are doing for the company but some serious streamlining needs to take place in these areas in order to establish a more focused objective.



The company has been slowly but surely making a push on the digital side. This was one of the reasons why new Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes decided to wait and see what will become of this digital push before making any decisions. Fair enough we guess, but even before Bewkes took over, Time Inc was badly in need of a makeover. The company needs to be refreshed with new ideas, objectives and a new structure to better meet the current challenges that publishing companies face. Time Inc for the most part is still stuck in analog while other companies remake themselves to handle the changing climate. If the suits at parent Time Warner want to see some changes, they need to make the first move. For starters, we think a fresh face at the top would kick things off right. Not to discredit Ann Moore, but a change at the top would signal a new beginning and would be a strong statement. Following a change at the top, the company needs to be spun off so it feeds off of itself, officially weaned off mommy’s tit. By doing this, investors and the Time Warner board will see the true value of the company and will probably get a clear idea of the value of each product the company publishes, online, print and the different businesses which sit underneath it.


Following a spin off, Time Warner should then take a long hard look at all Time Inc’s products and businesses and decide which ones are no longer worth keeping in the stable and look to unload them via an auction to raise cash to invest in the company’s digital business via strategic acquisitions or R&D. From these auctions, the current roster of 125 magazines should be reduced to about 70-90, and businesses should be streamlined where it makes sense. Hopefully with these reductions the company will see savings on paper, printing and of course salaries following an obvious layoff of staffers. These auctions should only include low performing or none core domestic and overseas titles and businesses. A successful sell off and streamlining of businesses will leave the once bloated Time Inc with some cash and a more lean and mean physique to move swiftly and aggressively towards growing its digital business and strengthening already established brands. Earlier we mentioned a change at the top.


A new Time Inc under a new leader should have a more clear and streamlined structure. For example the magazine groups are currently broken out into 6 areas, Entertainment, Home/Living, Life/Style, Luxury, News/Business & Finance and Sports. Right off the bat both the Entertainment and Sports groups should be merged as one. The Life/Style and Home/Living groups should be merged as one cutting the 6 groups to 4. Such a restructuring would result in instant cost savings. For International, everything needs to fall under the Time Inc brand further pushing the one brand one focus objective.


Standing in Jeff Bewkes’s shoes the two names that would be at the top of our list would be Reader’s Digest Association (RDA) CEO Mary Berner, and outgoing Ebay CEO Meg Whitman. It’s obvious why we would have Mary Berner’s name on the list but you may be wondering why Meg Whitman? Well Meg Whitman has a strong consumer background and understands their behavior on and off the web. These experiences come from her being CEO of Ebay of course, and her being a top executive in Disney’s consumer products division which we think would come in handy at Time Inc. As far as t Mary Berner, since being named CEO of RDA, Berner has wasted no time putting her stamp on the company. She re-lined the corporate suite with people she knows and trusts and is putting some spark back into the company’s flagship publication Reader’s Digest by green lighting a total re-design in print and online under new Editor Peggy Northrop. Any one of these two women would be a good choice to take the reigns at Time Inc. We have no doubt that there are some good male candidates out there but for some reason since Don Logan passed the baton to Moore, we only see another woman after the Moore era ends.


When someone has been in a company as long as Ann Moore has been at Time Inc, they sometimes are blind to certain things. They are sometimes immune to the fact that changes are needed. In cases like this, a fresh mind is needed because Moore may have hit a glass roof with her ideas which sometimes causes a recycling effect. In today’s magazine industry climate, size doesn’t matter, and it’s the size of Time Inc that is preventing it from reaching its full potential.

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Media CEOs could learn a thing or two from HP CEO Mark Hurd

Published: Wednesday, February 06, 2008

As some media CEOs struggle to get their companies back on good footing they constantly have their radars up for the next big thing that they hope will generate growth and additional revenue. But sometimes it’s not the lack of having what you may think is the next big thing in your stable. Sometimes what the company may need is an overhaul, a streamlining, and a revamp or whatever you want to call it. Sometimes it’s the CEOs lack of discipline and outdated management style that is holding the company back. Some media CEOs may look to their predecessors for advice or a legend in their business who has retired. By doing so, a media CEO is likely to get the same recycled advice. So where then should he/she turn for a fresh take on running a tight ship? Outside the media ring of course. One person comes to mind right away and that’s HP CEO Mark Hurd. Hurd took over a troubled company from the spotlight loving Carly Fiorina and whipped it into shape. He barely makes appearances, not to make a statement, but because he is actually huddled with his management team working. Hurd is loved by his board for his operational and cost cutting skills as well as his management style among other things. Such qualities could help many of the struggling media companies around today who are in a battle to make their mark on the digital playing field and sometimes loses focus on the business itself. Oh yeah those media CEOs who publicly say that their top priority is the shareholder, you are already off on the wrong foot. For Mark Hurd, the consumer is king!

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Looking Back: Bertelsmann will never see another CEO like Thomas Middelhoff

Published: Monday, January 14, 2008


Thomas Middelhoff, the former CEO of German media giant Bertelsmann AG was a German media exec with the makings of a U.S. media exec. He spent more time here in the U.S. than probably any other Bertie CEO has or will. He rubbed elbows with Hollywood trying to bring Bertie into the U.S. spotlight. However in the long run, Middelhoff was too out in the open and to ambitious to transform the company into a major digital player which every media company is trying to do now. Middelhoff was ahead of the game but like we said, got cut short by a reclusive, controlling family and a board of directors that just didn't get it, and to this day still doesn't get it. You can't be the CEO of a foreign media company and not work the elite circles in the media superpower that is America. We came across a Businessweek cover story on Thomas Middelhoff, and it reads like it would read if it was a story on Les Moonves, Bob Iger or even Phil Dauman. The Gulfstream Jet, the high profile events, Thomas Middelhoff wanted to bring Bertie out of the dark that it still sits in but, apparently the Mohn family likes to keep it in the dark. Don't get us wrong, Thomas Middelhoff like many other media CEOs made his blunders as well and is in no way perfect. But you have to wonder where would Bertie be today if he was allowed to take the company public and build its digital offerings? Will we ever read such a profile on new Bertelsmann CEO Hartmut "Hart" Ostrowski? Maybe not as he may turn out to be a Mohn Family puppet, and shun America. Middelhoff was pro America if not on a personal level then on a business level and that too could have been the recipe that did him in.
Thomas Middelhoff doesn't look up as his Gulfstream jet gains altitude over France's Cote d'Azur. He ignores views of the shimmering Mediterranean and the mist-shrouded Alpes-Maritimes. Instead, the chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, the world's third-largest media company, is hunched over a pile of newspaper clippings, devouring the day's news from the entertainment and online world. And it has already been a long day. After waking at 5 a.m. in the rural German town of Gutersloh and taking a swim in his indoor pool, Middelhoff has hopped a plane for Cannes to give a pep talk to top executives of BMG Entertainment, Bertelsmann's music division. Then it's back to the airport in a Mercedes whose chauffeur seems to be on loan from Formula One.

Bertelsmann: A New Net Powerhouse? [BW Archives]

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Bertelsmann’s Ostrowski should exit the sucky music business

Published: Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hartmut “Hart” Ostrowski is only 3 days in (U.S time) as the new CEO of German media giant Bertelsmann AG –AKA- Bertie, and surely he is combing through everything to see where the company needs to be focused. We know for sure that for Bertie, books are huge. However music may be something they need to get out of. Sure they confused us when they announced that they wanted to get back into the music publishing business after selling off their music publishing arm to Universal. But under Ostrowski, will Bertie be in the music business for long? The current state of the business can’t be looking good to Ostrowski at all. Sales are in the toilet and digital piracy continues to be at an all time high. So is Hart looking at this and is considering getting out of the business once and for all? We sure hope so. Earlier last year rumors were running wild that Bertie was seeking to sell its 50% stake in Sony-BMG, either back to their Japanese partners at Sony, or to an outside buyer. Maybe Bertie was thinking about selling at that point and floated the story themselves to see if any potential buyers would emerge, but apparently none did.

Ostrowki’s focus is on internet, books and the education sector, which itself falls under books. Bertie isn’t exactly the digital player that former CEO Thomas Midelhoff was working hard to transform it into, so we can see why this would be one of his main focuses. Bertie should sell off their 50% in Sony BMG and use that money to ramp up these areas since these are strong areas for them. None of their counterparts currently have a hand in the music business, at least not a whole hand, maybe a finger tip. Big media owning record companies are so 1990s and in a way, Bertie may be stuck in that era. -SDH

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Two Media Giants start the New Year under new leadership and a huge microscope

Published: Monday, December 31, 2007


At two of the world’s biggest media companies, this Tuesday marks the beginning of a new era. On Jan 1st 2008 Both Time Warner and Germany’s Bertelsmann AG will hail new leaders and perhaps start to head down a new path to greater domination or lack there of. For Jeff Bewkes, his appointment as Time Warner’s new CEO wasn’t a surprise to anyone. As a matter of fact, his appointment was long desired by people inside and outside the company with hopes that he will be the one to inject some energy into the overweight media giant. There is no doubt that all eyes are on Jeff Bewkes as Wall Street places bets on what his first 100 days as CEO will be like. Jeff will have to come out swinging and try his best to land as many hits as possible.

At the same time, well not literally the same time due to the time difference but you get the point, German media giant Bertelsmann AG, will also roll under the leadership of new CEO Hartmut “Hart” Ostrowski. Hand picked by the Mohn Family, who holds what seems like an unbreakable grip on the media giant, Hart takes over a company that is notorious for flip flopping, but controls some recognizable brands like Columbia House, Random House and 50% of music giant Sony-BMG. For Hart, we see a serious push into digital, more consolidation and perhaps an exit from the music business not too far down the road. Like Bewkes, many eyes are on Ostrowski. We will be watching these two young men very closely.

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Is Jeff Immelt a closeted media mogul?

Published: Thursday, December 27, 2007


There is no secret that GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt is a hands-on kinda guy when it comes to business. He is even more hands-on when it comes to his media division, NBC Universal. He talks up the business whenever he gets the chance and even hints at what’s to come for the media company. In a way he does what NBC Universal boss Jeff Zucker should be doing. We kinda get the impression that he is constantly behind Zucker breathing down his neck. Is this the behavior of a closeted media mogul? It would look good for Zucker if every time Immelt does an interview and questions regarding NBC Uni comes up he says "You will have to ask Jeff about that". But that’s not the case. The man speaks as if he is running NBC Universal, and for all we know he really is, via Jeff Zucker. We think Jeff Immelt is smitten with the media business and has a secret fantasy of someday running a media company. During the Jack Welch era at GE, Welch wasn't known to mingle in NBC workings, at least not that we know of. He left that up to then NBC ruler Bob Wright. Maybe Wright's retirement was hastened due to the fact that Immelt realized he couldn't control him. Who knows? Perhaps one day Jeff Immelt will come out of the closet.

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Jeff Bewkes looks to the founding fathers for answers

Published: Monday, December 24, 2007


In 6 days yet a new era will begin at Time Warner with the Bewkes Administration taking office. Many have high hopes for the company under the leadership of Bewkes, but he still seems to looking for answers regarding the future of the world's biggest media company. When searching for answers, who better to look to for answers than the founding fathers.

Before the top 200 executives at a ballroom in Miami’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, Mr. Bewkes invoked the legacies of Henry R. Luce and Ted Turner in ticking off the accomplishments of the assembly’s predecessors: inventing the newsmagazine (Time), and spearheading cable news (CNN) and pay television (HBO), according to three executives in attendance who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a private meeting.

What Would Henry Luce Do? Looking Forward at Time Warner [NYT]

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The Viacom plot to terminate Jamie Lynn Spears

Published: Saturday, December 22, 2007


With the recent bomb dropped by pop star Britney Spears's little sister that she is with child, it wouldn't be far fetched to think that Viacom's Nickelodeon is already stewing up a scheme to politely quietly drop her from their line up. Even though they have said publicly that they are behind her, that statement is standard corporate response to situation that has sealed the fate of a top star of a top network. There is no one out there, at least with kids anyway that can truly say, Spears should be able to return to her show on Nickelodeon whose audience ranges from 9-14. Bottom line, Nickelodeon should put at the top of their list for 2008, to drop the younger spears ASAP. However Nickelodeon has to put on their thinking cap when they drop her because dropping her from their roster of tween stars due to her pregnancy can lead to lawsuits and protests by rights groups.

But it can be done, if Nick plays up the fact that keeping her on air, will send a wrong message to young girls and boys which at the end of the day is true. Keeping her on air can also send ripple effects all the way up the ladder to parent company Viacom. The plan to drop spears should be one that Viacom legal eagles have a heavy hand in, but it should not lead back to them. You may say then what about those naked pictures of Disney star Vanessa Hudgins? If you are indeed asking this, then you're as stupid as the chair you're sitting on, because come on, really! If you ask me, entertainment/media companies should include in their contracts with individuals some kind of image and behavior clause that gives them the right to drop or suspend talent in situations like these with no ifs ands or buts. Jamie Lynne Spears is a product being marketed by Nickelodeon and unfortunately the product has to be pulled permanently or temporarily.

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The “M” in MTV stands for music, or does it?

Published: Sunday, December 09, 2007

I want my MTV. Do you still want your MTV? Many have been complaining that the cable network lost the “M” many years ago when it dropped it’s mostly music related programming for reality programs like “The Real World”, “Road Rules", “The Hills” and a slew of others. But take a good look at the programming. Has MTV really lost the “M”? A big chunk of the reality shows the network airs or aired were based on individuals in music. Shows like “The Osbournes”, Meet the Barkers”, Making the band 1 2 3 & 4 and more recently the hit “Run’s House”. So based on this, isn’t MTV maintaining the “M”? Some artist have been calling on the network to play more videos, but come on who are we kidding? With today’s many portable media devices, one can watch videos whenever wherever they want. I am a music video fan and I have to say that I don’t sit around to watch videos on shows like “TRL” I head straight for the web where I can watch unlimited music videos of my favorite artists as many times as I want.


Perhaps MTV got wind of millions of other viewers like me, and decided to cut back on the music videos and focus more on original programming. Artist like Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent and others always go out of their way to send MTV public messages to play more music videos but come on, it’s not like they’re watching, and its not like if MTV hardly plays their videos it’s going to hurt their sales. Maybe a few years back but that has changed drastically thanks to people like Steve Jobs. MTV is rolling with what works for them at this stage of their existence, and that's reality programming, after all they are one of the first to start the craze. The company recently revealed that their ratings have jumped for the first time in about 2 years. This jump isn’t due to airing some of today’s crappy music videos, it’s due to the very programming many have publicly reprimanded them for. Shows like “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila," You know you watch it! To be honest I would rather sit in front of my television and watch interesting and entertaining shows like this than to watch a rock video with the cliché set up with the band in the center of an abandoned warehouse pretending to rock out. Or a cliché rap video, which today is just a 4 minute commercial for Bentley’s, and a 3 minute audition for some scantily clad chick shaking her unmentionables.

Some of MTV’s music programming like the once mighty, “Video Music Awards” have fallen off big time. This could be due to their insistence on moving the show from state to state, BIG mistake! Come on guys what the movie business is to Hollywood, the music business is to New York. Can you see the Oscars being broadcasted from Madison Square Garden? I didn’t think so. Two of the worst shows were done in Miami, Followed by one I think in Vegas. The shows home base is here in New York City at the “Radio City Music Hall” or “The Met” During these times the show was a hit. So could this be taken as a sign that even though some viewers are calling on MTV to air more music videos, they really don’t care about music videos? At the end of the day, majority rules and it looks like the majority want’s their reality. Advertisers are more likely to buy ad time around shows like “Tequilla” and “Runs House” than around that stupid “Superman” video being aired via TRL which died when Carson Daly left. My 14 year old cousin watches all his music videos on his video iPod whenever he wants, get my drift? Perhaps some of us are too hung up on the "M"


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All jokes aside, will Dow Jones CEO Rich Zannino survive in the house of Murdoch?

Published: Wednesday, December 05, 2007


So come next week, news Corp, if the world doesn't end, will close on its deal to swallow Dow Jones. But swallowing such a big company whole, causes gagging which will lead to News Corp throwing up, purging its inners of unfamiliar overpaid individuals to help offset the $5 Billion price tag. But how high up will the purging go? Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino has always been an under the Radar kind of guy, even more so since he pushed for the takeover of the company. In pushing for the takeover Zannino may have just had one thing on his mind which is the cash he will pocket when the deal is done. But did he stop to think that he could be canned in favor of a Murdochian (a person loyal to the Murdochs). Then again it's probably written somewhere that he has to remain CEO of the company at least until his contract expires. However if Rupert Murdoch can get around a confused and dysfunctional family like the Bancrofts, he can get around a piece of paper. So is it likely that Rich Zannino will be shown the exit? Maybe not right away, but eventually he will be. We see Dow Jones, being reduced to simply a brand with all its businesses, like the Wall Street Journal and its web properties like Marketwatch.com being mixed into the News Corp swirl, leaving no need for a Richard Zannino

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Is TimeWarner’s problem, its size, and could a Viacom style break up be the answer to its long standing woes?

Published: Monday, November 19, 2007


TimeWarner’s CEO elect Jeff Bewkes made it clear in statements following the announcement of his promotion that one of his main focus after taking over the luggy media giant will be to create shareholder value. He didn’t mention any specifics and rightfully so, after all he is just CEO elect. But how does he plan to do this? Many have suggested that he either spin off and/or trim up Time Inc, and/or spin off the AOL unit. But we wanted to play a game of whatifs.


What if Jeff Bewkes and the TimeWarner board were to decide to go the Viacom route and split TimeWarner into two publicly traded media companies, Time Inc and Warner? Would it be more successful than the Viacom CBS split? Doing so would undo a marriage that took place almost two decades ago and would create two new media giants that will now have to battle other giants on their own like Disney, News Corp and NBC Universal to name a few. There may also be some early up hill battles as well, but it could all pay off in the long run.

The Time Inc side would be made up by, the magazine business of course, but in addition, the company will consist of the internet properties making it heavy on digital media. By this, the Time Inc company would be the smaller of the two also making it the more nimble.

The Warner side would be made up of the more traditional properties, like film, television, and cable networks all Bewkes’ strengths. But who would run what, and would such a drastic change cut away at Bewke’s power? Would he have oversight of both companies?

We mentioned in the past that maybe Time Inc needs to be put on a diet, but perhaps it’s all of TimeWarner that needs to be put on a strict diet. The company is seen by many as too big to fully adapt to these nimble digital times. Split in two, a Time Inc and Warner company could get a shot at flourishing and making shareholders and investors happy because God knows they are longing for some happy days, thanks to the lingering stains of the dumbest merger in history. But you may ask why would it work for TimeWarner if it isn’t working for Viacom? But who said it wasn’t working for Viacom? Both CBS and Viacom are doing respectably well based on recent quarterly reports, then again that depends on one’s definition of “respectably well”. But we haven’t seen or heard any reports of shareholder revolt over the split…. Yet.

We have no doubt that this is something that is on the table at Time Warner. Bewkes seems to be all about staying on the good side of Shareholders, and rightfully so because at the end of the day he works for them. Jeff Bewkes was a team player under Dick Parsons, but with his turn coming up to bat, he may just surprise us by moving quickly to trim the fat and unclog TimeWarner’s arteries so it can keep up with the new fast moving crowd.

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If you work in marketing for a magazine or newspaper, and you don't know the Internet, you may be Prehistoric

Published: Friday, November 16, 2007


For years magazines and newspapers alike have done their marketing via those pain in the ass direct mail pieces you get in the mail trying to convince you to buy their magazines. Some even go as far as offering a cheesy gift if you jump on the offer the moment you get it, as if they would know when you actually got the damn thing right. These marketing tactics are still very much in play, but it is now in the shadow of the Internet, for the most part. A huge percentage of consumer & B2B publishers have turned to the web to reach their audience in an effort to retain them, get them to tell their friends to subscribe or land new subscribers. So what does this mean for the sorry bastard who is in the market for a circ job with no Internet marketing experience, which is now a major plus at publishing companies? Well it simply means he/she may have the marketing experience but that experience doesn't include Internet and this fact will probably result in no call backs. But don't feel bad because chances are the person who would have conducted the interview knows nothing about the web other than logging on to his/her favorite social networking site.

There are people in marketing positions at publishing companies who are scared shitless that they could fall victim to their Internet illiteracy, and they probably will. So what do we tell these dinosaurs? We say, get out while you can or if you're smart, bring in someone who can make you look like you know what the hell a digital edition is. Not to say that there is no longer a spot for direct mail people, but you may have to scoot over to make room for the Internet marketer. There are still publications out there, where for them, direct mail is still the way to go due to their audience. But even they are kicking the tires on how they can join the Internet marketing club.

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CMP Technology's next CEO could be...

Published: Friday, November 09, 2007


With the amicable demotion of CMP CEO Steve Weitzner, the CEO gig is wide open. For now David Levin, CEO of parent company United Business Media is acting Chairman until a search is completed successfully. But we wonder why the search for a new CEO is so hush hush. Usually during a time like this most companies welcome the extra media coverage and interest, but not CMP or its parent company for that matter. Being our usual curious selves, we wanted to know how the search was going and who are some of the names being thrown around, inside and outside the company? An email sent by us to CMP’s chief communicator, Alix Raine regarding our curiosity was then forwarded to Peter Bancroft, Director of Communications at parent company United Business Media who told us “We can't help you at all since we will be making no comment at all regarding the search.” Hey Pete, it pays to talk to Mediawiredaily.com!!!

This raised more red flags for us. Why was a simple question that was sent to CMP then forwarded all the way across the ocean for someone to tell us that? Does United Business Media still have some tricks up their sleeve regarding CMP? Why not leak a couple of names to ad a touch of glitz and mainstream tones to the company? Anyway being that we were politely told to fuck off, we decided to throw around some names on our own, but they are all from inside CMP. Hell some of them could be gone before the end of the year, because something tells us, there is more to come, or go for that matter. When the news first broke we mentioned that former CNet CEO Shelby Bonnie would be ideal for the CEO gig, but we don’t know what the hell we were thinking because like a commenter said, Shelby Bonnie did lose his job because of his involvement in some backdating at CNet. So let’s go ahead and write him off because the last thing United Business Media needs is a tainted head of its technology media business.


We came across the four individuals (above) who all hold important rolls within the company already, but again some of them will probably be headed for the exit as you read this, because Long Island based companies whose parent companies are overseas are very unpredictable. The four individuals are made up of one CFO (as if there would be two) and three are heads of business. All three are (we think) capable of leading CMP on its new road but they may not have that extra oomph David Levin seeks. Nevertheless its possible CMP’s new CEO will come from inside either CMP or parent company United Business Media. Let’s take a look at our four picks (as if we had a choice) for possible CMP CEO candidates.

Who: Adam Marder
Current Job: CMP’s CFO, you know, the money man.
Why Him: He has his feet firmly planted at CMP, at least for now, and he knows the company.
Why Not Him: May not be able to let go off of managing the company’s money, and does not look approachable. May even scare some employees. May not be able to lead in this digitally saturated world we live in.
Verdict: Adam Marder should continue to manage CMP’s money if David Levin will have him

Who: Robert Faletra
Current Job: President, CMP Channel Group
Why Him: Nah, this guy doesn’t have a shot in hell
Why Not Him: Robert Faletra is a journalist. Once a journalist always a Journalist.
Verdict: See “Why Not Him”

Who: Tony Uphoff
Current Job: President CMP’s Business Technology Group
Why Him: Tony Uphoff out of the four, would be our pick to run CMP. He carries the DNA of a both a technology and media executive and he is responsible for the success of one of CMP’s biggest publications Information Week. On top of that, the guy has movie star good looks which could work well in the company’s favor
Why Not Him: Because of his movie star good looks, being CEO may go to his head resulting in loss of focus on the strategy set forth by his rulers at United Business Media
Verdict: Uphoff does have the very experience David Levin mentioned in a statement. But they may be looking outside and may over look the fact that they already have their man.

Who: Paul Miller
Current Job: President of the CMP Electronics Group
Why Him: Our man Tony Uphoff has some serious competition on his hands, Paul Miller knows this internet shit with is being managing director of one of CMP’s online networks. He too would be a good choice from inside to lead the company forward.
Why Not Him: We have no idea. The guy would be on our short list.

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Following up Jon Friedman's suggestion on Time Inc: If not a sale, how about a diet plan?

Published: Wednesday, November 07, 2007


We will skip the whole part about how Jeff Bewkes is the new CEO of TimeWarner and the whole story of old media's past. What we will do is chime in on one of our favorite media columnists, Jon Friedman's suggestion that Jeff Bewkes should shake up Time Inc, which we think is right on the money. But perhaps the fact that Time Inc boasts about its size due to the 125 titles it publishes is the very reason the division sucks. Yes there is no excitement; it’s an old media staple that jumped on the digital media wagon a little too late. For this Ann Moore should have been kicked to the curb but her superiors at TimeWarner clearly missed that boat as well. They just launched a corporate website, we're still shocked that this just happened.

One of the first things that need to happen at Time Inc is a change at the top. Sure Ann Moore's contract has some time left on it, but pay her to leave and bring in new meat. At the same time, Bewkes should implement a diet plan for the unit, by selling off its less glitzy and, low performing titles trimming the company down to a publisher of about 75-85 publications. Perhaps one of the reasons they held on to so many titles was to keep their status as the biggest. But these days, size doesn't matter. The company needs to also make some strategic acquisitions, scooping up sites they can actually make money from. With all their millions of readers it would make sense to jump into the social networking pool by launching a site for paid magazine subscriber’s only, where they can discuss articles they read in Time Inc's magazines among other things. If Time Inc's senior management is confused about how their digital operation should look, they should look no further than Conde Nast’s CondeNet. Sure Conde has its downs with the whole digital operation allegedly being totally separate from the print operation, but they have a very usable template that Time Inc can use as a foundation to build on. A slimmed down Time Inc with a new leader with the digital DNA, is key to it's future growth. Now the question is whether or not they know that.

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The Early Digital Guy: Thomas Middelhoff saw the future but was cut short by a reclusive controlling family, and the Internet bubble deflation

Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The shifting at flip flopping German media giant Bertelsmann (Bertie) has been happening slowly and mostly under the radar for months now in prep for the official arrival of incoming ruler Hart Ostrowski. It looks like Ostrowski has quietly handed over his CEO title at Bertie division Arvato to Rolf Buch, but still holds on to the Chairmanship as he waits for current Bertie CEO Gunter Thielen to leave the building. Gunter took over when the more aggressive digital media seeking Thomas Middelhoff was booted for basically pushing the company in the direction all big media players are going now.

Middelhoff went high and low getting Bertie into the digital media business. Under Middelhoff, Bertie increased its internet activities by starting the online media portal BOL (Bertelsmann Online), which was sold to buch.de in 2002. But he then stepped back from these online engagements, for example by selling its shares of AOL-Europe back to Time Warner. Was this due to pressure from the clueless board of Bertie? Sure the internet bubble was still fresh off the bust, but Tom Middelhoff was the media CEO back then, that all media CEO's are racing to be in this digital media age today. Will incoming CEO Hart Ostrowski build up Bertie's digital media business, to make sure that Bertie is relevant in the next five to ten years?

Middelhoff pissed off the secretive Mohn family when he put in motion plans to take the company private which would have given him the cash and glitz he, as well as the company needed to build the company's Internet offerings and status among its competitors, but not too long after he was canned. Back in 2002 Columnist Dan Milmo said Bertie has an image problem, and five years after, this still seems to be the case. Bertie needs to get out more, its senior execs need to rub elbows with America’s big media players and get into the club. The only glitzy business that Bertie is associated with here in the U.S. is it’s 50% stake music giant Sony-BMG and god knows how long they will be part of that. Bertie needs to get hip. Come on can’t you see, Hart Ostrowski escorting Beyonce to a major music event? Dudes, you have the potential utilize it.

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Will NBC Universal and News Corp's HULU.com be another flash in the pan like NBC's NBBC.com?

Published: Friday, October 19, 2007

NBC Universal and News Corp are probably putting the final touches on their soon to be launched online video joint venture, Hulu.com. Both companies are the latest big media players attempting to keep audiences from running to Youtube to see their programming by creating a video destination of their own. Viacom made every single episode of "The Daily Show" available online at the newly launched Thedailyshow.com. But back to Hulu. This won't be NBC's first run at an online video venture. A year ago with much fanfare NBC launched a mediocre site called NBBC.com. The site has since vanished into thin air. The venture was a flop right out of the gate due to it overly corporate look and discription (see image below). Online video ventures need to have a welcoming image sans the corporate lingo. Audiences and most advertisers could care less about that.

It was an attempt to interact with NBC's audience but it turned out that NBC's audience didn't want to interact with them, and around that time there was a little site called Youtube smoking up the place. So will News Corp's involvement make a difference this time around? We think so. With News Corp's Myspace, if the right people are in charge of this new venture, it can make some noise. But it won't be an issue for the folks at Youtube, because at Youtube, the audience runs the show.

EARLIER: Fresh Off The Wires: NBC Launches "NBBC"

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Digital Media: Does traditional media get it, or putting on an Oscar worthy performance?

Published: Friday, September 07, 2007


Visit the corporate website of any of the big media companies and what you will come across is their none-stop effort in showing that they are digitally literate. Time Warner's 2007 corporate profile has several pages dedicated to explaining how they are taking advantage of the digital movement. But does Time Warner and its competitors like News Corp, Disney, NBC Universal and others really get it? Or are they simply trying to remain relevant by acting like they do?

It’s only recently that the digital race among these media companies began. Before that it was all about traditional media, like print, networks, cable etc. During that time, some of the mentioned companies weren't paying attention to this thing called digital media. Now it’s all the craze. Even some clueless shareholders during earnings calls want to know what is being done to monetize traditional content via digital distribution. Yeah! Like they have a clue! In the media business, it takes one or two bold media bigs, like a Rupert Murdoch to make a move and then the rest will follow. He set off a rat race when he shocked the media world and dropped big money on social networking site Myspace, beating out slow movers like at then Viacom CEO Tom Freston. Hell, Murdoch can be credited for sparking the digital race in big media.

In the past few years companies like NBC Universal dropped big money to get their feet in the digital pool. CBS' little big man Les Moonves has also been on a digital media shopping spree as well. Snapping up any and everything they can sell ads on. NBC Universal acquired ivillage.com for a reported $600 Mil and so far they have yet to benefit from their big balled acquisition. An attempt to build a television show of the same name fell flat, but is said to be getting a makeover for a second round. There is even word that NBC's digital head that lacks experience in that field, Beth Comstock is on the way out. Big media continues to run through the digital media door with blindfolds on and their fat wallets. But the truth is, it’s like sitting in a room of people where someone just told a joke and the whole room erupts in laughter. You didn't get the joke, but you decide to burst out in laughter anyway because everyone else is holding their stomachs on the floor.

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Winners, Losers & Idiots This Week: Guess who are the idiots?

Published: Friday, April 20, 2007


Dow Jones: Even though the newspaper business is struggling right, Dow Jones still managed to report an OK Q1

Cathy Black & Ann Moore: Both women sit atop vast magazine empires. Both have had failures. Both will turn all their focus to the internet, coming up with ways to milk advertisers.

Eric Schmidt: The Google CEO has the media industry on their toes and guessing. While traditional media companies play catch up, Schmidt is slowly invading their territory

NBC: for airing video and photos of the V Tech psycho which resulted in a spike in ratings

CNN: For pulling any and all footage of the V Tech psycho in an effort to not upset families who could possibly give them interviews

Hearst "Tower Awards" winners: Even though it means shit, Yeeeah! to Harper's, Popular Mechanics, Town & Country, Good Housekeeping and Cosmo Girl for taking home one of these shiny trophies

Sumner Redstone: The man may be a shark when it comes to business but he does have a heart you know. The media grand daddy has pledged $105 million to fund cancer and burn research at three major U.S. health care centers. This has Paula Redstone written all over it.

Mike Eisner: The former Disney dictator finally came out of the closet as a gun hater after living a lie all those years he ruled Disney with an iron fist.

Marcus W. Brauchli: For landing what is considered the most powerful position in business journalism at the Wall Street Journal. If only he had a different last name though.

Barry Diller: The web mogul is about to tap some black ass when he launches a new website targeting black Americans and other ethnic minorities online



Liz Spiers: The blog queen and her partners couldn’t see eye to eye so she walked away from the company she launched and started to build. You should have put your foot down Liz.

Kurt Eichenwald: This poor fuck just can’t catch a break. Just when he thought he was out, they pull him back in.

Celebrity Gossip rags: Celebrity gossip magazines like In Touch weekly, for trying to be serious with cover stories related to the V Tech murders. Stick to your celebrity stalking and leave the big stories to Time and Newsweek.

Beth Comstock: She may be in the good graces of her bosses but some of her colleagues are not too fond of her and her and her ideas

Tribune Employees: Don’t listen to Sam Zell. He is going to lay a bunch of you off

Bob Johnson: Perhaps the BET founder should think about another media play because he is just not a good NBA team owner, or so they say.

Mel karmazin: When is Mel going to realize that he may never get his merger approved?


Us. But you love it

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Winners Losers & Idiots This Week & Last Week

Published: Friday, April 13, 2007


Rutgers Women’s Basketball team: These chicks got all the media coverage anyone could or would ever want and even got some old guy fired in the process

Maria Bartiromo: The money honey and her hubby reportedly landed a sweet $6.5 million pad, and it wasn’t even paid for with Citigroup money

Anderson Cooper: The silver haired CNN anchor’s pockets just got even phatter with the $50 Million his bosses just handed him. Wonder what he is planning on doing to celebrate?

Gay People: Yeeah! Gay people can now enjoy the fantasy wedding packages offered by Disneyland.

Sam Zell: Old Sammy beat out fellow billionaire Tribune bidders Ron Burkle and Eli Broad to win the long and pain in the ass Tribune auction. Now there are reports that Zell is in talks with another billionaire, David Geffen about the L.A Times possibly being spun off in a whole new deal that we hope will be painless and quick.

Mika Salmi:
We know he was hired as the digital czar for MTV and all its online properties, but doesn’t such a roll makes him the digital czar for all of Viacom being that all their online shit is tied related to the cable net anyway? Well according to speculators it looks as though Viacom is finally wrapping its hand around this digital era we’re all living in right now and we guess all praises are due to Mika Salmi…..we think.

Mike Bloomberg: Why you ask? Well because the man just got another feature article which rubs his billions of dollars in out poor ass faces that’s why.

Rupert Murdoch: Finally King Rupe gets John Malone off his back for good. Rupe tossed John a bone sometime last year and Johnny fetched it. Now Rupe will have a tighter grip on his beloved News Corp.

EMI: The third biggest record company finally got with the program and did a deal with the mighty Apple/iTunes. The deal allows iTunes to crack open the EMI music vault and sell, sell, sell.



David Geffen: No L.A Times for you dude.

Don Imus: “Nappy Headed Hos” did him in and now he is unemployed. But trust us Imus aint hurting for cash and it may be just a matter of time until he lands on Satellite.

Pinch Sulzberger:
The New York Times ruler, is about to bet his close flung wide open by a tell all book by former Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine who claims Pinch is publicity man whore.

Bookspan Employees: What can we say about these guys? Their jobs are up in the air now that Bertelsmann took Time Warner’s 50% stake in Bookspan. All we can do is pray that the blood bath if any isn’t that nasty.

Ron Burkle & Eli Broad: These guys were in, then they were out, then they got back in when they saw other people were still interested in Tribune. Too bad they lost out to Sam Zell. However, we think the lost is making them delusional because they think they can still make a run at the company.

Mel Karmazin: Mel Karmazin needs a fucking group of anti satellite deal activists like he needs a shotgun to his grey dome, but a group of activists is what he got. Now Mel has double his gift to gab to make his merger dreams a reality.

Conrad Black: We mean come on are you even shocked that Conrad Black made our losers list again? Hell no you’re not so we won’t even get into why.

New York Times Co: Does this company need to be sold stripped and revamped or what?


Don Imus: Yeah this week Don is not only a loser but an idiot as well. Do we really need to get into the details?

Deirdre Imus: Now why would this woman invite potentially dangerous people to threaten her husband’s life?

Jordan Levin: Hey Jordan, thanks for telling us all something we all fucking knew already. Next time don’t just say shit to have something to say in front of a bunch of people. We know you wanted to feel important bud dude, like we said, tell us something we don’t fucking know.

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Bertelsmann's Ostrowski Doctrine

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Bookspan employees are already feeling the early effects of Bertelsmann’s “Ostrowski Doctrine”. Bertelsmann’s next CEO will be the hard charging cost cutting, take no prisoners Hartmut “Hart” Ostrowski who rose to the top for his disciplined mentality. Though he won’t officially be CEO until the end of this year, Ostrowski without a doubt already has the ears of the Bertelsmann board and is a favorite of the controlling Mohn family which leads us to believe that recent announcements of consolidations in the U.S. are part of his plan to merge and purge business units with top heavy management structures and high overheads, much like Bookspan. But besides Bookspan, what else will get a taste of the “Ostrowski Doctrine”?

The company has been up and down about its stake in Sony BMG but all evidence point to them holding on to their 50% stake at least for now. A major part of the “Ostrowski Doctrine” is an aggressive push into U.S. media markets. The company recently announced that it is setting up a war chest with Morgan Stanley for a planned shopping spree which could see the company stocking up on internet properties to have a foot print in the digital arena. Could there be an Amazon-esque Bookspan.com in the future where book worms can read excerpts from books before buying them? Or perhaps a Bookspan.com which serves as not only an online book store but an online Myspace-esque community where book worms can meet other book worms and meet up to read together at a Starbucks? Not bad ideas but in order to roll out such plans, some heads have to roll which is unfortunate for many. It’s the coming of Hart Ostrowski kids.

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Morning Wire: A German bomb is about to drop on Long Island


A German engineered bomb is about to fall on Long Island based book marketer Bookspan. Bertelsmann (Bertie), the German media giant which bought back a 50% stake in the company from Time Inc, is folding it into its bigger consumer marketing company BMG Columbia House. Some high level exits have already taken place or are imminent. Bookspan CEO Markus Wilhelm is one of the first to announce that he will be leaving the company issuing the cliché reason about spending more time with family, but we’re not buying. Wilhelm was either forced out, or had no choice, which would still work out to him being forced out right? Predictions throughout the media industry are that pink slips will be issued to Bookspan employees from the top on down who will no longer be needed. There are even posts by what appears to be a former Bookspan employee about chaos in the Bookspan offices, where as no one knows who is reporting to who and/or how long they will have their jobs, you know, the usual shit that takes place when the bomb is about to hit.


Come next year there will be a new man in charge at Bertie and his name is Hartmut “Hart” Ostrowski and he is said to be planning on turning each Bertie unit upside down and shake as much cash out of them as possible. Sure he isn’t taking office until the end of the year, but many believe he has already put the “Ostrowski Doctrine” in motion. An anonymous commenter claims there is talk that Bertie may put the two buildings currently housing the Bookspan business in Garden City Long Island up for sale. If this turns out to be true then such a deal would be more proof that Bertie is going all out to save some cash perhaps to further fluff up their recently declared war chest. So what now for Markus Wilhelm? Well we came across a live