Articles of the Day


Liberty’s Malone: We’ve Held Limited Talks To Get AOL Access — Talk of a Yahoo-AOL combo has once again heated up, but what becomes of the access business? Its final home could still be Liberty Media. CEO John Malone told the FT that his company and Time Warner have had “limited talks” to swap the declining (but profitable) dial-up business in exchange for Liberty’s stake in Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). Of course, as Malone notes: “Time Warner still needs to divide the business.” Yeah, the process of splitting access and portal isn’t exactly “done” yet. The other party that’s clearly interested in AOL access is EarthLink, which has had some success in improving dial-up profits by cutting costs.

McClatchy Loan Deal Wins It Flexibility—With Costs — The McClatchy Company, like just about every other newspaper publisher, has found itself even more squeezed by the current economic convulsions. On Friday, the Sacramento company announced it has renegotiated $1.175 billion of debt, which includes banks loans and available lines of credit. While the company insisted it was in no danger of default, it needed to amend its debt agreements to alleviate the pressure from falling ad revenues, particularly in its California and Florida markets. But as the company’s SacBee points out, McClatchy will be faced with higher interest rates—about 25 percent extra—and the amount of credit it can access has been reduced. Ultimately, McClatchy’s borrowing costs could increase by $11 million annually, treasurer Elaine Lintecum told SacBee.

Glam Media Readies Male Version; Tries 7 Percent Solution, Cutting Workforce By 14 Jobs — Glam Media, the women’s fashion and entertainment ad net, has had a lot of activity lately. It’s now prepping a men’s channel and ad net with the working title CodeBlue, Venturebeat reports. The content will be comprised of in-house posts and videos in addition to bringing material from outside. The channel is being readied for a November launch under a different name—CodeBlue. NBC/*News Corp.’s* Hulu, Sony Music and MTV are rumored to be signed up as content partners and Glam is said to be talking with other media companies as well. Venturebeat is uncertain as to whether Glam will own CodeBlue completely or if this is to be part of a joint venture. This comes as Glam is cutting 14 jobs, or 7 percent of its 200-person workforce.

Auto Site Autobytel Cuts Staff; Puts Up a For Sale Sign — Online auto site Autobytel, based in Irvine, CA, has laid off about 75 employees under a cost-cutting plan it began last year, it said, citing, as usual, the economy. These represent about 35 percent of its work force. It has also hired RBC Capital Markets to explore a possible sale of the company. “We believe our current stock price as well as overall market conditions are conducive to, and have driven, increased interest in Autobytel from various third parties,” Autobytel CEO Jim Riesenbach said in a statement. The company will record $2.2 million during Q3-Q4 related to severance and other employee-related costs. It expects to save about $10 million each year as the result. In Q2, the company reported revenues of around $19 million, down from $21.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Health Sites Aim To Stave Off Economic Ills — Health information sites have continued to show growth even as more and more players crowd into the category. Data released earlier this month by comScore showed that traffic in the segment increased 21% in the last year, four times the growth rate of the U.S. Internet audience. But as the wider economic weakness spreads to online advertising, will health sites be immune to the downturn? Driving that surge have been newer properties such as Revolution Health Network–launched by former AOL chairman Steve Case, which nearly tripled traffic to 11.3 million as of July, the rebranded AOL Health, almost doubling to 11 million, and Everyday Health Network, jumping 63% to 14.7 million. Longtime category leader WebMD grew only 3%, but was still comfortably on top with a monthly audience of 17.2 million. The site also boasted the biggest share of views for display advertising, at 18.6%–compared to almost 13% for Revolution Health, 12% for AOL Health, and about 10% for Everyday Health.

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