UPDATE: I’ve found out more. See below. Tom Steinert-Threlkeld will oversee both Reed Television Group publications now. Max Robins, the veteran Hollywood TV journalist who has been editor of B&C for the past 3 1/2 years, was laid off. Now Mark Robichaux, B&C‘s executive editor, will head up the daily operations. B&C Los Angeles Co-Bureau Chief Jim Benson is among those impacted, leaving only identically titled colleague Ben Grossman in charge. I’m really sad to hear this because the let-go editors are great manpower. One savvy TV exec emailed me, “I’ve always wondered why they need Variety, Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable…” He’s not alone.
Insiders tell me that both magazines are profitable but today’s shakeup and layoffs are the result of gently declining revenue growth since 2000, the peak of the ad market (except for 2004 when ad sales were up). The problem is that the core business for both titles is “seriously impaired”: there are fewer cable networks and suppliers, and there is much less syndication. “Because both magazines are profitable, we don’t want to shut either. But we’ve got to get costs in line and trim editorial without hurting the books.” While B&C is considered the marquee name, MultiChannel News is seen as having a clearer value proposition. But management is looking at better defining the editorial spin of each title and, if it can’t do that, then maybe two will become one.
The official announcement just went up and it says: “Two publications in the Reed Television Group Monday adopted a new editorial structure to advance their growth in new online media. Tom Steinert-Threlkeld, editor-in-chief, becomes editorial director of Multichannel News and B&C, also known as Broadcasting and Cable, to oversee the increasing focus of the two publications on delivering news, analysis and multimedia content online, according to Jeff DeBalko, president of the Reed Television Group. A five-person online operations group is being formed. Joel Topcik, currently a deputy editor at B&C, becomes online news editor for that brand. David Cohen, currently a deputy digital news editor at Multichannel News, becomes Web editor at B&C. Mike Reynolds, news editor at Multichannel, becomes its online news editor; and, Steve Donohue becomes its Web editor. An executive editor of online operations will be named later. Max Robins has left his position as editor-in-chief of B&C, after 3 ½ years in that role. B&C‘s executive editor, Mark Robichaux, will head up the daily operations of the 76-year-old publication, which covers the business of television. ‘B&C and Multichannel News are vibrant, healthy and profitable brands that we are committed to growing,’ said DeBalko, who also is Chief Internet Officer of Reed Business Interactive. ‘We are committed to maintaining the quality of our traditional products while structuring our business and accelerating our investments to take advantage of high growth areas such as online, events, and custom publishing.’