DISNEY MAY COMBINE MAGAZINES: NEW STRUCTURE WOULD INCLUDE CONSUMER TITLES, FAIRCHILD UNIT

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Walt Disney Co. is evaluating a major restructuring of its publishing properties that could put its consumer magazines and Fairchild Publications unit under one organizational umbrella.

The review follows the resignation last week of consumer magazine group VP-Group Publisher Paul Hoffman. He had assumed the post in May after Senior VP John Skipper was named to head Disney's ESPN Magazine as senior VP-general manager.

Mr. Hoffman, who is leaving to become senior VP-publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica, acknowledged Disney is "looking at how [this division] is structured."

Inside Disney Magazine Publishing, which includes Discover, Disney Adventures, FamilyFun and a joint venture with Ziff-Davis Media, Family PC, executives believe a new structure will be established for the division, now part of Disney's Consumer Products unit.

Disney's Capital Cities/ABC unit is selling its Chilton Business Group to Cahners Publishing Co. (see story on Page 14).

ONE TOP PUBLISHING EXEC

The plan that consumer magazine group executives believe most likely is that Disney will try to find an executive who has been a president or exec VP to oversee all publishing ventures.

Tom Conforti, chief financial officer of the Consumer Products division, is leading the search to find a replacement, who will report directly to Bo Boyd, Consumer Products president.

Jake Winebaum, who founded FamilyFun and moved two years ago from New York to Burbank, Calif., to become president of Disney Online, is a strong candidate. But bringing in a high-level executive from another publishing company is a possibility, say people familiar with the company.

Disney is divided into three divisions: theme parks, film and Consumer Products. Consumer magazines are under the Consumer Products group, while Fairchild is part of the ABC Inc. purchase slotted into the film division.

FAIRCHILD AS BARGAINING CHIP?

One scenario presented by a former Disney executive suggested Disney has held onto Fairchild as a bargaining chip with Hearst Corp. over the ESPN unit. "Hearst has a piece of ESPN, and Disney wants that back," he said.

Executives familiar with Disney's consumer magazine unit said raising its profile within Walt Disney Co. is long overdue.

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