Newsweek Seeks Investors for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel

Washington Post Co. Looks for Equity Investment or Outright Sale of Monthly

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NEW YORK ( -- Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine is not shutting down, contrary to rumors, but its owner is seeking new equity investors for the title or even an outright sale, according to people familiar with the process.

Budget Travel has presumably reaped some benefit in the recession from the "budget" in its name and its mission, but it's still a magazine about travel during a broad economic swoon that's crushed advertising spending.

Ad pages in its January through November issues fell 27% from their level a year earlier, according to the Media Industry Newsletter, a sharper decline than monthlies' 22% collective drop. Ad pages at Conde Nast Traveler, by comparison, fell 43% through November, while Travel & Leisure saw ad pages decline 24%.

Budget Travel has also been owned since 1999 by Newsweek, which today is engaged in an intensive effort to regain profitability and find new footing as a weekly news magazine in the digital age. Newsweek, in turn, is part of The Washington Post Co., a public company whose cable TV and education businesses have come to provide the profits while the newspaper and magazine divisions generate losses.

A Newsweek spokesman declined to elaborate on the statement affirming that Budget Travel will continue to publish. "We are not shutting down or laying off staff," the statement says. "It's business as usual at Budget Travel and we are currently working to produce the February issue and beyond. It's also important to note that we have a growing and engaged audience which, in this difficult economic climate, is no small feat."

Budget Travel guarantees its advertisers average paid and verified circulation of 675,000. Overall paid and verified circulation increased 6.3% in the first half over the first half of 2008 as subscriptions grew 7.1%, and verified -- copies delivered free to public places -- increased 9.2%, according to the magazine's report to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Those verified copies represented 9.5% of the paid and verified total, higher than the 5% ballpark that's emerged as a commonly accepted proportion in the industry. Newsstand sales slid 18.4% in the first half; magazines as a whole, by comparison, saw newsstand sales decline 12.4%.

Newsweek bought Budget Travel in 1999, when it guaranteed paid circulation of just 350,000; terms were not disclosed.

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