Queer media shakeup. Australia’s gay and lesbian publishing sector has had some big changes this month, with a key rag going monthly while gay and lesbian radio station Joy FM’s general manager announced his resignation.
After 10 years at the community station and four years as general manager, Conrad Browne announced this week that he’d put in his resignation. “It has been an incredible privilege to lead the station over the past three years, and I am so proud of what has been achieved during this time,” he said. He won’t actually vacate the position until June — the station’s board is currently looking for his replacement.
Meanwhile, Melbourne Community Voice has announced it’s going from weekly to monthly publication. In a statement to readers, the publication said they could still get their news “in bite-sized portions via MCV’s online offering GayNewsNetwork.com.au, whilst turning to the print edition for in-depth features and the full story”.
It follows a similar move last year by another gay title, Star Observer, which also went monthly from a weekly print run. Star Observer CEO Daniel Bone said at the time the need for a frequent print edition had decreased as homosexuality became normalised, and it became harder to reach large numbers of readers through specific venues like gay bars and the like. “The community has changed – and that’s something we should celebrate. People are living more diverse lives in more areas in the community,” he said. — Myriam Robin
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A commercial decision. Last week, we featured Elle Australia’s new covers in this section. As we wrote, the cover on the left was sent to newsstands, while the one on the right was only sent to subscribers …
Since then, Elle editor Justine Cullen has responded to criticism on the magazine’s website about why the breast-feeding cover was sent only to subscribers, and not featured on newstands. She wrote:
“It was a commercial decision to run it on subscriber issues only. Magazines are a fantastic platform for being able to bring issues to light and take a stand, but ultimately, this is still a business. It’s still my job to sell magazines. A cover is how we do that, and for that reason, as the editor, every month you try to put forward a cover you think will appeal to the widest possible audience …
“In an ideal world no one would have an issue with seeing breastfeeding on the cover of a magazine. But it’s not an ideal world. Supermarkets are where we make a large proportion of our sales. Not everyone walking through a supermarket is our target demographic, nor are they all going to be understanding of the message behind this cover. If enough of those people complained about this cover and it was pulled from the shelves — or worse, if we were made to put a sticker over the part of the cover deemed offensive — it would spell disaster …”
“Call it ‘wussing out’ or hedging our bets if you want, but I call it running a business.”
Big cable play. It’s the second coming — and this time around there’s a greater air of desperation than there was in the first attempted deal 17 months ago — a US$55 billion (around A$70 billion) deal for Charter Communications, controlled by cable maven John Malone, to take over Time Warner Cable. The two companies are in close to agreeing on a cash-and-stock deal that would value Time Warner Cable (TWC) at US$195 per share, with Charter offering US$100 cash for each TWC share and the rest in stock. And as part of the transaction, which is due to be announced tonight, our time, Charter will also merge with small operator Bright House Networks in a deal reportedly valued at more than US$10 billion.
TWC is the second biggest cable group in the US, Charter is No. 3 and Bright House is No. 6. The combined cable giant would have 23 million total customers, second only to Comcast’s 27.2 million cable operators. Charter triggered the current round of deals in the US cable sector when it tried to take over TWC last year — TWC scurried to find a white knight and agreed to be bought by Comcast. There’s a reason for why the deal was suddenly brought forward. French telco group Altice, which last week announced a deal to buy the seventh-biggest US cable group, Suddenlink, suddenly started talking to banks late last week (according to US market reports) about financing for a bid for Time Warner Cable. So John Malone advanced his offer and got serious to prevent himself from being gazumped.
News of the renewed deal though comes only a month after Comcast was forced to terminate the takeover of TWC after strong opposition from government regulators across the US. Because of the sheer size of the latest deals, they will also face a tough time in Washington from regulators who are likely to view the three-way deal in the same light as the Comcast-TWC takeover. Reuters points out that a “merger of Charter and Time Warner Cable, with other related deals, would eliminate one of the country’s top Internet providers and control more than 20 percent of the broadband market, according to data from MoffettNathanson. The Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal rejected by regulators would have created a provider with roughly 40 percent of the U.S. high-speed Internet market.” — Glenn Dyer
Front page of the day. Hilary Clinton peers into a locker room of Republications getting ready to take her on …