Company Characterizes Move as 'Refocusing'

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NEW YORK ( -- Primedia today split up its Media Central properties of media-related business-to-business publications. The move will result in what one knowledgeable insider termed "a couple dozen" layoffs.

Formed through a series of acquisitions over a period of several years, Media Central eventually encompassed six magazines such as American Demographics and magazine trade title Folio:, about 20 newsletters under the Paul Kagan and Simba banners, and related conference businesses as well.

Publications reassigned
The major publications in the portfolio

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are being reassigned to report to different areas within Primedia's extensive holdings. American Demographics, Folio:, Circulation Management and Cable World will now report to Primedia's Business Media and Magazines Group. The newsletters will now report to Primedia's Consumer Media and Magazines Group.

Cable Neuhaus, a former Time Inc. editor named to edit Folio: less than a year ago, is leaving the company.

The Web address for, the outpost of Powerful Media's ambitious online media-on-media play that was sold in 2001 to Brill Media Ventures and later taken over by Primedia, will remain online as a portal to the former Media Central magazines. The address will continue to work as well.

New management
Primedia's controlling shareholder is the New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts. A Primedia spokesman said the move refocuses the company under its new management. Last month the company named Dean B. Nelson, who runs KKR's in-house consultancy Capstone Consulting, the interim chairman following the departure of former Chairman-CEO Tom Rogers. Charles McCurdy, who was formerly president of Primedia, was named interim CEO.

The Media Central properties had been overseen in part by Darcy Miller, president of Primedia's integrated sales and marketing corporate sales unit, who is leaving the company at the end of this week. That group is being dismantled as well, said David Ferm, president of Primedia's consumer magazines, with integrated sales efforts being pushed down to individual titles. Breaking up the unit will result in about seven more layoffs, though some within the unit are being reassigned elsewhere in the company.

B-to-B revenues down
Primedia's business-to-business titles have been severely hit by the downturn affecting that sector in general. Revenues in that unit fell 9.1% for the first quarter. Still, the moves come as Primedia's complex portfolio shows some signs of improvement. While overall revenue dropped slightly in the first quarter, total earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization tripled to $43.0 million. Long-term debt stands at about $1.77 billion.

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