Is Ebony For Sale?

ebony.jpgIs Johnson Publishing, the owner of Ebony shopping around its flagship publication?

That’s the news coming out of Newsweek today. Citing “media and investments executives familiar with the developments,” Johnnie L. Roberts reports that Linda Johnson Rice, chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing and daughter of its founder John H. Johnson, has reached out to Time Inc., Viacom and private investors like buyout firms to see if she could find a buyer or financial partner for the title.

Like so many magazines in today’s economic climate, Ebony has been struggling in the past year. Although the title was among those that saw the biggest newsstand growth during the first half of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation’s recent numbers, Roberts reports that Ebony has seen some pretty grim advertising numbers in recent years:

Ebony‘s advertising pages and ad revenues have declined in each of the last three years, even during periods when the industry was flat to positive. Among the 243 magazines tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages plunged an average of 28 percent, with revenues falling by 21 percent, in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period a year earlier. But Ebony‘s decline was sharper, as advertising dived almost 35 percent, dragging revenues down almost 32 percent, to $18.8 million from 2008’s $27.7 million…And according to industry tracker Media Industry Newsletter, things have only turned grimmer for Ebony since the first half. Total ad pages sank by 40 percent this year through the October issue, now on newsstands.”

And earlier this month, Ebony cancelled its Fashion Fair event for fall 2009, citing economic challenges.

Still, despite all of Ebony challenges, executives have denied that they’re in talks to sell the magazine, Roberts said. These sorts of things have a way of shaking out and revealing themselves over time, so we’ll keep you posted.

Ebony: Up For Sale?Newsweek