Move Comes Amidst Rising Conflict-of-Interest Controversy

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NEW YORK ( -- In an effort to end a rising conflict-of-interest controversy, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced July 15 he was severing his financial relationship with Weider body building magazines.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has severed his financial relationship with Weider Publications.

The move follows disclosures earlier in the week that the governor, who last year vetoed legislation designed to discourage high school students from using nutritional supplements, was due to receive approximately $8 million over five years from Weider publications, which are heavily supported by advertising from supplement marketers. The money was compensation for consulting at Flex and Muscle & Fitness, where he held the title of executive editor.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose connections to the Weider publishing empire reach back to his earliest days as a rising body building star, said he was relinquishing the consulting contract as well as his editorial post and pay.

Relinquish compensation
"When I became governor I pledged to put the people of California front and center,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said July 15 in a statement issued by his office. “I don't want there to be any question or doubt that the people have my full devotion. Therefore, effective today, I will relinquish my title as executive editor and forego any compensation from the magazines.”

The magazine contract, details of which were reported last week in The Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee, highlighted Mr. Schwarzenegger’s decades-long relationship with Joe Weider, founder of the publishing company.

“For more than 35 years I have had an extraordinarily close personal and business relationship with Weider Publications,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said last week.

Brought to U.S.
Mr. Weider, a lifelong apostle for fitness and purveyor of fitness products, brought Mr. Schwarzenegger to the U.S. in 1968 when he was just a promising young Austrian bodybuilder.

Dozens of times, Mr. Weider added to Mr. Schwarzenegger’s fame by featuring him on the covers of his magazines.

Those magazines, which American Media bought two years ago in a $350 million deal for all of Weider Publications, rely largely on advertising from nutritional supplement companies -- just like the one Mr. Weider founded.

Supplement ad revenue
Muscle & Fitness collected ad revenue of $62.8 million last year, of which $27.9 million came from ads for supplements like Cellmass, ProSource Provadex and Myoplex Deluxe, according to TNS Media Intelligence. In 2004, Weider Nutrition was the sixth-largest nutritional supplement advertiser in Muscle & Fitness, Shape, Fit Pregnancy and Men’s Fitness, the four Weider Publications titles tracked by TNS Media Intelligence. It spent a total of $1.47 million.

Flex appears to have even more supplement ads, but TNS does not track it. An Advertising Age analysis suggested about 5% of Flex’s ad pages come from Weider.

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