Friday, May 04, 2007

Time Warner's Parsons: I Won't Sell Magazine Biz

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo interviews TWX's Dick Parsons
by Jon Ogg
Filed under: Television, Time Warner (TWX), Interviews, News Corp'B' (NWS), Dow Jones and Co (DJ)

CNBC's Maria Bartiromo has interviewed Time Warner Inc's (NYSE: TWX) Dick Parsons about a myriad of issues, and more of this will be showed later.

She asked Parsons about selling the magazine business: He noted that it has acquired magazines and that it has been pruning that back to what it thinks works inside the company. Parsons said he likes magazines and publishing and will stay in the field, which he has maintained before.

Bartiromo also asked him about the integration of print to online via AOL,, Time.Com and the like: Parsons said letting AOL integrate all the properties didn't work from the start. AOL is a broad portal and the company wants to make its content available across many platforms and many formats. It wants to distribute as much content as it can. As far as keeping AOL, Parsons said it is increasing performance and once Wall Street understands that this is a sustainable model enabling it to grow faster than the industry as a whole, there will be more support of this strategy.

Bartiromo also asked "How do you drive revenues into new products at AOL?" Parsons noted that AOL needs users rather than subscribers. It wants to bring back people who left AOL (or those who were never there), and monetize the visits to keep revenues growing. AOL is in a growth mode again, he said. Bartiromo noted that the cash flows are something to be jealous of and asked about private equity. Parsons said they (private equity) are looking at committing capital to everything. The current construction of AOL is the horse to ride, and that's the plan.

Bartiromo's interview was pre-recorded and Parsons' message about his opinion on the News Corp (NYSE: NWS) offer to buy Dow Jones (NYSE: DJ) will be a topic. Stay tuned......

Publishers Hear Digital Fingerprinting Pitch

Publishers Hear Digital Fingerprinting Pitch
by Karlene Lukovitz

WATCHING GOOGLE AND VIACOM DUKE it out in court is interesting, but in the real world, publishers and other site owners are more interested in finding a practical way to monitor who's using their content and either get some reimbursement or get it off the Web.

As the business world read about Google/YouTube filing for a dismissal of Viacom's $1 billion copyright infringement suit earlier this week, a group of publishing executives gathered at a Magazine Publishers of America "Meet the Innovators" session to hear a pitch for one potential answer.

Attributor Corp., a privately held Redwood City, CA company started by Silicon Valley executives, is testing technology that scans and captures digital "fingerprints"--or identifying characteristics--of text, images and audiovisual content and then continuously scans its index of the Web to pick up matches.

The company claims that the system can spot content reuse within just about any Web area/format, including RSS feeds, self-published sites, social networks, advertising networks, search engines and aggregators, based on a few text sentences, bits of an image, or seconds of an audio/video clip.

Attributor doesn't claim to know exactly what is and is not "fair use" under the evolving legal precedents surrounding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; rather, the system employs a site owner's own specified criteria to generate automatic responses to identified instances of reuse, explained CEO Jim Brock, a former Yahoo copyright counsel who co-founded Attributor in 2005 with Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jim Pitkow.

Depending on the scenario (the percentage of content used, whether it's being used for commercial purposes, etc.), a content reuser might, for instance, receive a request to remove content, or a proposal to allow continuing reuse of the content in return for giving the originator a portion of advertising revenue or licensing fees. A single console provides the site owner with ongoing monitoring of each issue's status until there is some kind of resolution.

Site owners can also employ a searchable public registry that allows anyone wishing to republish content to identify the owner and seek a licensing agreement.

In short, Attributor may present a more streamlined and wide-ranging solution than existing content monitoring systems like Indigo Stream Technologies' Copyscape, which relies on Google's search engine to seek out unauthorized uses.

Attributor is now in beta with several "large, international publishers," and is taking requests to generate free trial reports for interested publishers while the development phase continues, Brock said. Between 40 and 45 million Web pages per day are being added to the system through RSS feeds and periodic content scanning/conversions, he added.

In December, the company announced that it had received $10 million in funding to date from investors including Sigma Partners, Draper Richards LP, First Round Capital, Amicus and Selby Venture Partners.

Where does Brock think digital fair use definitions are headed? "At this point, nobody can say that a certain percentage of an article equates or does not equate to fair use," he says. "It's still subjective under the law. But once we have the systems in place for transparency, we believe those standards will evolve."

Meanwhile, he says, "if from a business standpoint, it's not fair use by your standards, you can address that, negotiate, respond as you see fit." For example, if no attribution is provided, a significant portion of a given piece of content is being used, and it's being used for commercial purposes, "then you've got three indicators that might set off a 'ding, ding, ding,'" Brock notes.

Mag Bag: At Discover, Children Art the Future

Mag Bag: At Discover, Children Art the Future
by Erik Sass

At Discover, Children Art the Future
Discover is putting the cover design for its October issue on the future of science in the ink-stained hands of some lucky elementary or middle school student. The mag is holding a national design contest open to students from the third through eighth grades. While it sounds dicey, given their Photoshop skills, today's students might just put some graphic designers out of a job.

According to the magazine, "the winning entry, to be selected by Discover's editorial team, will be the design that best captures the wonderment and possibilities of science." The submission deadline is Wednesday, June 20, 2007. The winning artist and six finalists will be profiled in the magazine and online. Contest details are available on the Discover Web site.

The contest is designed in part to spread awareness of the magazine among a new generation of potential readers, following a wide-ranging revamp of the magazine by publisher Bob Guccione Jr. He acquired Discover in October 2005 from the Walt Disney Co., then spent much of the past 18 months revitalizing its readership and ad base, discarding the "junk" circulation it inherited to make it more appealing to Madison Avenue.

"Taking this unprecedented step--given the importance of a magazine's cover--underscores our commitment to raising this discussion," said Guccione. "There's no better snapshot of the future of science in America than what a child sees and perceives science to mean today."

Guccione Jr. is also in talks with his father, Bob Guccione Sr., to acquire Omni, the seminal science and science fiction magazine that spawned a new category of consumer magazines, including Discover. Time Inc. launched Discover in 1980, partly in response to the success of Omni, and Guccione Jr. recently told MediaDailyNews he would like to revive it as a "high-gloss science fiction quarterly" early next year. Omni ceased publication as a monthly print magazine in 1996, and a Web version of the magazine was disbanded in 1998. Time Inc. sold Discover to Disney in 1991.

Hearst Launches 3 Mobile Ventures

Three of Hearst Magazines' titles delivering home and lifestyle advice to women--Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful and Redbook--are launching mobile-content services targeting women 35+ in partnership with Crisp Wireless. The sites, specially designed for mobile format, include interactive features like calculators, quizzes, downloadable wallpapers, search and user-generated content.

Stacy Morrison, editor in chief of Redbook, explained: "Cell phones are how a woman stays connected to friends and family, keeps herself organized, and now, with our new mobile sites, she'll be able to use her phone to actually make her life easier."

Content areas at Redbook and Good Housekeeping include recipe libraries with related grocery lists and nutrition facts, diet and exercise tips, and an array of lifestyle advice. Redbook also features "Mommy Strategies," where user suggestions team with interactive features. Good Housekeeping's content includes a searchable list of every product with the mag's seal of approval and an exercise calculator. House Beautiful offers a "Design Dictionary" and paint calculator.

This news follows the recent announcement that CosmoGirl and Popular Mechanics, both published by Hearst Magazines, will be creating digital content, including video, in partnership with Fox Television Studios. The first video content for CosmoGirl is a drama about three female best friends during their junior year of high school.

Source Magazine Files for Bankruptcy

The bad business practices of former management have left a cloud hanging over the Source--at one time widely regarded as "the hip-hop Bible"--according to the magazine's current publisher, Jeremy Miller, who was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Manhattan court Friday of last week.

The court papers allege that the misuse of magazine funds by founder David Mays and president Raymond "Benzino" Scott caused the magazine's advertisers to jump ship. The two men were fired in 2006 amid revelations of corruption and falling newsstand sales. In addition to dipping into the magazine's funds, they allegedly issued bad checks, put people unrelated to the magazine on the payroll and failed to deliver issues to 140,000 subscribers. Industry insiders also buzzed about rumored fraud in the millions of dollars, including unreported travel and jewelry purchases.

The Source has been in court a lot lately. In October 2006, a former editor in chief won $15.5 million in damages from the magazine in her lawsuit for wrongful termination. The case also suggested widespread sexual harassment at the company. Kimberly Osorio was fired in March 2005 after filing a gender discrimination complaint against the founders. Although the federal jury decided in Osorio's favor on the wrongful termination charge, they dismissed a related sexual harassment charge. Michelle Joyce, a former marketing executive, had joined Osorio in alleging sexual harassment.

AARP Set To Host First Hispanic Event In Puerto Rico

AARP is about to host the first national Hispanic-themed event in its history, the Feria de la Segunda Juventud or "Festival of the Second Youth," May 5-6 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The festival--sponsored by UnitedHealth Group, Banco Popular, Walgreens, Kimberly Clark, Pfizer, Univision and Rums of Puerto Rico--is expected to attract over 9,000 attendees, with an array of celebrity speakers and performers including Gloria Estefan and Jose Feliciano. AARP President Erik Olsen remarked: "This two-day festival celebrates much more than the boomer and 50+ community--it's about family, intergenerational relationships and helping our members live a full, healthy life." AARP has over 1.2 million Hispanic members, according to Olsen.

PBS Picks Up "Wired Science"

PBS announced it will pick up "Wired Science," a production of KCET/Los Angeles that's co-branded with Wired, with the first episode set to air nationally on October 3, 2007. The one-hour episodes will air once a week for 10 weeks, covering new developments in science and technology with the magazine's trademark attitude and forward-thinking aesthetic. The series will also have a substantial Web presence hosted on the PBS site, including streaming video, articles and audience interaction features.

Home Refocuses With May Issue

Home is refocusing its editorial content on remodeling and home makeovers beginning with its May issue, publisher Hachette Filipacchi announced this week. The revamp includes the introduction of new front-of-book sections like "Your Home" and "Mini Makeover." Donna Sapolin, Home's editor in chief, says: "The remodeling market has almost doubled in size over the past decade, and our readers are at the forefront of this upward trend." Also in the redesign are more prominent referrals to the Web site; new font; new logo; a "What We'd Do" section from the editors; and a "Make It Green" feature.

Ladies' Home Journal Issues Commemorative Stamps

To celebrate its 125th anniversary in 2008, Ladies' Home Journal is offering a collection of 12 first-class postage stamps with famous vintage covers from 1903-1951. The covers were designed by some of the era's best-known illustrators, often with seasonal themes. Archival issues of the magazine, one of the nation's oldest, are a repository of cultural history illustrating the lives of American women in the 19th and early 20th century.

Cynthia Leive Re-Elected President of ASME

Cynthia Leive, the editor in chief of Glamour, has been re-elected president of the American Society of Magazine Editors. Roberta Myers, editor in chief of Elle, has been elected vice-president, while Adam Moss, editor in chief of New York, has been elected secretary, and David Willey, editor in chief of Runner's World, has been elected treasurer. Marlene Kahan is the executive director of ASME.