Martha Stewart and Time Inc. are putting the finishing touches on a proposal that would step up the frequency of her weekly TV show to daily and keep it under the Martha Stewart Enterprises umbrella, Advertising Age has learned.
The talks come as Ms. Stewart and Time Warner continue to renegotiate their partnership arrangement. In those dealings, the entertainment maven is seeking an equity stake in properties bearing her name and has talked to other potential investors.
Under terms of the proposal now making the rounds, CBS' Eyemark Enterprises would continue to handle syndication of the successful "Martha Stewart Living" TV show, which would increase to six shows a week positioned for late morning or early afternoon time slots.
Eyemark, formerly Group W/Maxxam, believes it can draw interest from key CBS affiliates and demand premium prices from advertisers.
Ms. Stewart could not be reached for comment. Sharon Patrick, an adviser to Ms. Stewart for the TV show and other ventures, said in a statement to Ad Age: "With the enormous success achieved by the `Martha Stewart Living' series . . . it only makes sense for us to explore together a number of new directions for our relationship. We are currently fine-tuning these ideas . . ."
If the show goes daily, Ms. Stewart would not be required to appear in every episode, allowing her to devote time to other ventures.
`AMICABLE SPLIT' AHEAD?
The developments regarding the TV show suggest Ms. Stewart's differences with Time Inc. CEO Don Logan may be leading to some kind of "amicable split," insiders say.
One scenario would keep the media properties known as Martha Stewart Enterprises largely under Time Inc. control, while a new company with Ms. Stewart at the helm would develop spinoff products--from high-price designer paints to a direct mail business known as Martha-by-Mail.
Core property Martha Stewart Living magazine is expected to post a modest profit in 1996. Through April, ad pages were up 15.6% over the previous year, to 195, according to Publishers Information Bureau; the rate base is at a high of 1.55 million. Most of the partnership's profits so far have been derived from the TV show.
Ms. Stewart believes that, with proper nurturing, the spinoffs could become as big or bigger than the media properties that spawned them. But facing corporate pressure to hit double-digit growth throughout the Time Inc. publishing wing, Mr. Logan isn't convinced the spinoff investment will pay off. That difference of opinion is at the heart of the friction between the partners.
Copyright June 1996 Crain Communications Inc.