Meredith Buys Every Day With Rachael Ray, Continuing Surge Into Food

Deal Follows Acquisition of EatingWell and Introduction of Recipe.com

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Now part of Meredith
Now part of Meredith
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Meredith , the publisher of magazines including Ladies' Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens, has reached an "agreement in principal" to buy Every Day with Rachael Ray from Reader's Digest Association.

Terms were not disclosed but Meredith said the acquisition will not have a material effect on its performance this year, suggesting the price was not very large.

News of the deal came just hours after Reader's Digest Association said it was looking to sell the cooking title, citing limits on its agreement with Ms. Ray that prevented it from expanding the brand much beyond print.

Meredith , however, has been doubling down on food this year. In June it bought EatingWell magazine and introduced a food site called Recipe.com.

Food has been a difficult ad category for magazines this year -- food ad pages from January through September declined 16.2% from the same period last year -- but remains a big focus for publishers. Hearst's Food Network Magazine, for one, just made the Ad Age Magazine A-List again.

But Every Day with Rachael Ray had begun to slow down after its introduction in 2005. But ad pages in this year's issues from January through October plunged 21.6% from their level in the same period in 2010, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, while monthlies as a whole saw ad pages slip just 1.5% and Food Network Magazine expanded ad pages 13.8%.

When Reader's Digest Association reported a 15.1% decline in operating profit in the second quarter, it blamed factors including "declining advertising revenue for our Every Day with Rachael Ray title."

"The acquisition of Every Day with Rachael Ray will further extend our leadership and deepen our reach in providing women with best-in-class food content, while offer advertisers multiple avenues to reach them," Meredith National Media Group President Tom Harty said in a statement.

Meredith said it has also introduced six more newsstand specials around food this year, bringing the total to "nearly 40," and expanded food content in its existing magazines.

"We are very proud to have established a loyal following by creating a new perspective in the food space with our magazine," Rachael Ray said in the statement from Meredith . "I look forward to growing it with my new partner Meredith -- a company I've admired for a long time."

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