Last year’s round of cuts at Time Inc. came with a major restructuring. The 2009 version is “more targeted” with most of the cuts now underway affecting the News group, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes told analysts during the Q3 earnings call today that group includes Time, Sports Illustrated, Money and Fortune: “We’re aiming to increase the consumer utility at the same time as the financial sustainability of some of our key branding.”
One example would be reducing Fortune‘s frequency but “investing more in the quality … and focusing our reporting even more on the widest and most important companies.” Time Inc. is also looking at ways, he said, to improve resource sharing across publications “to the biggest and most topical issues.” But Bewkes also talked about further winnowing, promising a “hard look” at “non-strategic and less-profitable titles.”
One custom-publishing title has published its last issue: Fortune Small Business, owned by American Express. FSB was moved out of the newsstand titles as part of last year’s re-org and into controlled-circ custom publishing. We’ve confirmed the closure, reported first by Fishbowl NYC. Because the magazine was produced primarily by people working across titles, the closing
affects one job. NYT reports that 11 people — five full-time and 6 hourly — were laid off as a result of the closing, not one as we all were first told. The source is a senior Time Inc. executive. Update: This should explain it: one job in the news group was affected directly by the closing while other full-timers were in custom publishing and handled other titles as well. The “hourly” people are freelancers, who don’t get severance and aren’t counted in the totals. (That only makes this more difficult for them: I know. I once depended on Time Inc, for a considerable amount of income when I was a freelancer and was at the tough end of the whip when Time ran out of budget or Life changed frequency/closed.)
— About that $100 million number that surfaced as the amount of cost savings from the layoffs? Turns out that’s actually the amount of the ceiling on the charge Time Warner said it will take on the layoffs in Q4. Bewkes expects the restructuring to pay for itself with savings starting next year. The actual total of layoffs won’t be known for weeks. That’s because the results depend on who volunteers for the Guild layoffs — higher-salaried departures might mean fewer jobs cut, for instance.