FREEDOM GROUP RAISES SIGHTS WITH "P.O.V.';XER MAGAZINE IS LATEST PRIZE FOR BURGEONING PUBLISHER

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Freedom Communications, which has been quietly increasing its magazine division over the past year, is about to kick into high gear with a multimillion-dollar investment in the upstart young men's magazine P.O.V.

The deal marks the closely held, family-controlled West Coast media company's first excursion into New York. Freedom traditionally has maintained one of the lowest profiles in the media world, even though its estimated 1995 revenue of $500 million ranked it as the 39th-largest media company in the U.S.

"We're trying to raise our profile some, but we prefer to be known by the products that are serving the markets," said President-CEO James N. Rosse.

READY TO SPEND

Mr. Rosse last year tapped Sam Wolgemuth, a former executive at News Corp. and Simon & Schust-er, to head the magazine drive. Industry experts estimate Freedom is ready to spend more than $50 million to expand in magazines.

Freedom Magazines holdings include Latin Trade, World Trade and the Curtco/Freedom Group, which publishes Home Theatre in a joint venture with magazine entrepreneur William Curtis. At Curtco/Freedom, William Holiber took the title of exec VP last month, from most recently ad director of the New York Daily News. Curtco plans to start up two new magazines this year.

"Our goal is to find talented entrepreneurial people early in the development stage of special-interest consumer magazines," said Mr. Wolgemuth, now president of Freedom Magazines. "We'd like to have up to 10 magazines by the end of 1997."

Long term, Mr. Rosse said he wants to boost the magazine unit revenues to between $80 million and $100 million, from virtually zero in 1994.

The deal with P.O.V. will result in a new partnership called B.Y.O.B./Freedom Ventures. Freedom is believed to have earmarked up to $15 million for investment in the magazine.

P.O.V. has averaged about 25 ad pages in its first three issues, including buys from Chrysler Corp., Calvin Klein fragrances, Tanqueray gin and Marlboro cigarettes. The third issue hits this week, but already P.O.V. has built a rate base of 150,000.

Some observers think the publication has an excellent shot at rising above the dozens of other Generation X-targeted books.

Barry Golson, editor in chief of Yahoo Internet Life, looked at the title last year as a potential acquisition for News Corp., where he then was director of magazine development. "It's not a totally new idea, but it has a fresh, popular men's appeal," said Mr. Golson, who holds 26-year-old P.O.V. founder and Publisher Drew Massey in high esteem.

Though the family of Freedom Communications founder Raymond C. Hoiles still controls the stock, over the past few years the board has expanded by adding non-family directors. Last week, Robert Krakoff, CEO of Cahners Publishing, was voted onto the board to broaden magazine knowledge.

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