Report: Barry Diller thinking of taking Newsweek online-only

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IAC/InterActiveCorp., which controls Newsweek, plans to announce a digital plan for the magazine this fall, though it’s unclear how that will affect the print publication.

Bloomberg reporter Edmund Lee, who listened to IAC/InterActiveCorp’s earning call, tweeted, “Barry Diller says there will be a plan in place later this year to take Newsweek digital only.” He tweeted later that he had confirmed this with a public relations representative.

All Things D’s Peter Kafka has a different take, saying his understanding is that Diller is “thinking about going Web-only with Newsweek, but hasn’t committed to it.” Kafka says he confirmed that understanding with a public relations rep.

Politico’s Dylan Byers has a similar take as Kafka, based in part on an email from the same person Kafka talked to.

Kafka posted his transcription of the relevant portion of the call. Diller commented that Newsweek has a good brand, but it, like others, has to solve the problem of producing a weekly magazine.

“And the transition will happen, I believe. I’m not saying it will happen totally. But the transition to online from hard print will take place. We’re examining all of our options. Our plan is that, by September, October and certainly, uh, firmly have a plan in place for next year. It’s going be different than it is this year. I can’t tell you in what ways it’s going to be different. But it will be different.”


“While he stopped short of saying that Newsweek will shut down its print edition,” writes Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici, “it was clear Diller meant to at least float that possibility.”

Later Wednesday, Newsweek/Daily Beast Editor Tina Brown sent an email to staff (“Subject: scaremongering”) in which she said Diller had “made the uncontroversial, industry-wide observation that print is moving in the direction of digital.”

On the call, Yinka Adegoke reports, IAC said its profit “was impacted by an after-tax non-cash charge of $16.2 million, or 18 cents a share, from a write-down in the value of its stake in the money-losing Newsweek Daily Beast after it bought a controlling interest in the business.”

Diller and stereo magnate Sidney Harman agreed to merge The Daily Beast and Newsweek in 2010. The partnership continued after Harman’s death, but on Monday the Harman family confirmed it would no longer “make further capital contributions” to the joint venture. Writing in the The New York Observer, Foster Kamer marveled that “IAC is now a majority owner, with a print publication on its books.”

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