Time Warner is in secret negotiations to sell off part of Time Inc., sources tell the Time Inc. publication Fortune, in a move that could signal just how sick media giants are getting of trying to stop the bleeding from print. Ironic or not, the magazine publishing division that was essentially the foundation for Time Warner has been bringing down the rest of the ship for a while now. In its latest earnings report, the parent company announced that it would lay off 6 percent of Time Inc.'s staff, which would add up to $60 million this year. The quarter before that, Time Inc.'s revenues fell 6 percent, part of which Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said had to do with the magazine's ongoing transition to digital. Before that, Time Inc.'s 21 magazines saw a 9 percent decrease in overall revenue. And the quarter before that, the magazine unit's revenues decreased another 3 percent. And... you get the picture.
From the Fortune report, it's unclear, exactly, what a deal might look like. But in one possible scenario Time Warner would sell off most of the company's publishing titles to an undisclosed buyer, while keeping others, such as Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune — three company mainstays that have embraced digital faster and better than, say, This Old House. Meaning Time Warner would keep the brand value of Time Inc., while still potentially trimming titles like Entertainment Weekly (big online) and People (one of the few newsstand success stories). Some have ventured a guess at who this buyer might be. Time Warner is not commenting.