Fitzelle touts private media ownership

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For Ed Fitzelle, managing director at media bank Whitestone Communications, there can only be one conclusion to the ongoing consolidation of b-to-b media: an industry that will eventually be driven almost entirely by private hands. And that's a good thing, he said.

"It'll be much healthier for b-to-b media," said Fitzelle, who spent eight years with AdMedia Partners before joining Whitestone last year, referring to private equity-backed players such as Ascend Media and Apprise Media that are increasingly setting the b-to-b media M&A agenda.

"Management will no longer be tied to quarterly reports, and revenue won't be as cyclical." (Fitzelle said it's a pretty safe bet that private equity firms will buy Penton Media and Ziff Davis Media, both of which have been in play for months.)

Fitzelle stressed that private equity firms have in recent years been "very smart" about how they operate the media companies they acquire. He said that rather than strictly focusing their business model on individual distribution points, say print titles or trade shows, they are buying media companies with the idea of distributing the content in whatever medium customers and advertisers demand.

"They're being market leaders," Fitzelle said.

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