Time Inc. Offers Buyouts Ahead of Hundreds of Layoffs

Publishing Leader Employed 12,000 Three Years Ago, Now Just 9,000

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Buyout offers kicked off the latest round of major job eliminations today at Time Inc., where cuts are coming to replace growth as the annual expectation.

"This restructuring will allow us to most efficiently focus our resources on the creation of compelling content at our world-class titles," a spokeswoman said in a statement. "Unfortunately, given the tough market conditions, this restructuring will mean a loss of jobs. We wish our departing colleagues and friends the very best with their future projects."

Time Inc. employed some 12,000 people as recently as three years ago, but its headcount had fallen to 9,000 before today's cuts, through several rounds of layoffs, the shutdown of titles including Teen People and Cottage Living and the sale of magazines including Field & Stream and Popular Science. Today's cuts are expected to claim hundreds of jobs. Last year the damage totaled about 600 jobs.

Those cutbacks, like today's, were attributed to the recession. And the recession has certainly taken its toll. Time Warner said today that Time Inc.'s third-quarter ad revenue fell 22% from the year-ago period, although that was a smaller decline than those absorbed earlier this year.

Ad pages through the publisher's November issues have declined byonly 3% at Essence and 9% at Sunset but by 10% or more everywhere else. Ad pages fell 10% at All You, 12% at Health, 15% at Cooking Light, 18% at In Style, 19% at Real Simple and Coastal Living, 21% at This Old House, 24% at People en Espanol, 29% at Golf and 30% at Money, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Ad pages across the industry, by comparison, fell 22% among monthlies.

Continuing pain
Time Inc.'s iconic weeklies and the biweekly Fortune fared no better. Ad pages through the late October issues fell just 6% at People but 19% at Sports Illustrated, 24% at Time, 30% at Entertainment Weekly and 37% at Fortune.

But the recurring cuts aren't all about recession. Last year's big layoffs followed more than 800 job eliminations across 2007, 2006 and 2005, which were relatively healthy years for the magazine business. Time Inc. said during those cuts that it was adjusting to changes in the media business.

Time Inc. isn't alone in cutting jobs. Today's move follows hundreds of job cuts at Conde Nast, which recently ordered most of its magazines to chop their spending by some 25% and closed Gourmet, Cookie, Elegant Bride and Modern Bride magazines.

However, cuts aren't necessarily the order of the day either: No major rounds of layoffs are expected over the rest of this year at Hearst, Meredith or Bonnier, the company that bought 18 Time Inc. magazines in 2007. "While we're always looking at ways to produce great magazines with a lower cost base, we don't have any major changes planned at the moment," a Hearst spokeswoman said. Rodale made a round of cuts in November 2008, but no further layoffs are expected this year.

The question that will linger after this year's layoffs are done will be: How far will Time Inc. eventually go?

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