Monday, August 2, 2010

Wash Post Unloads Newsweek to Stereo Magnate for $1

Sidney Harman, circa 1955)Image via Wikipedia
After 50 years at the helm, the Washington Post Co. has jettisoned Newsweek, unloading the money-losing newsweekly magazine to 92-year-old audio equipment magnate Sidney Harman, according to reports in Ad Age, Bloomberg News, and The New York Times.

The Post, which has been courting and rejecting suitors for the magazine that may lose up to $70 million this year [see "TUOL" post 6/3/10], reportedly sold Newsweek to Harman for $1. The purchase price may not seem like a lot of money--though the year Harman was born, $1 could buy a gallon of sweet pickles or a dozen bars of glycerine soap--but Harman also is assuming the magazine's liability and purportedly has agreed to retain 250 of Newsweek's approximately 325 employees. 

The magazine lost roughly $30 million last year and has seen its ad pages decline by nearly 10 percent over the first half of 2010. Harman, whose fortune was made from an FM radio sales business he launched during the 1950s, is married to Calif. Congresswoman Jane Harman.

Jon Meachem, who was unsuccessful in forming a consortium to purchase the magazine, is expected to step down as Newsweek's editor as Harman assumes ownership. It remains to be seen what, if any,
long-range plans Harman has for Newsweek, especially because, at age 92,  he's probably even reluctant to purchase green bananas.

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