November 16, 2017 Last Updated 4:40 pm

Updated: Meredith reportedly makes bid to acquire Time Inc.; Aussie papers celebrate national poll, but not Murdoch’s tab

Morning Brief: NYT report once again gives life to the rumor that the Des Moines-based media company is still interested in the NYC publisher, but who really is pushing to complete this deal, Meredith or the Koch Brothers?

Once again there is more talk that Meredith may acquire Time Inc. The twist this time is that The New York Times says that Meredith will be backed by billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch — the notorious Koch Brothers (they had a boy band in the eighties, didn’t they?)

Why Meredith would want to buy all of Time Inc. is the real mystery. Several times already it has made a play for Time Inc., but made it plain that they really were not interested in Time Inc.’s weeklies — Time, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.

What Meredith really would like is Time Inc.’s titles such as Southern Living, which would fit in nicely with its own brands like Eating Well, Allrecipes and Better Homes & Gardens.

Beyond that, however, it would seem that the part of Meredith that is growing, its broadcast side, is not helped with an acquisition of another print company, even if that print company is moving away from print itself and towards video content. (Remember, Media General wanted to merge with Meredith last year, but the deal was scuttled basically because Nexstar, a broadcaster without print, came up with a better offer.)

On the other hand… the Kochs are old guys, really old, and maybe they remember Time when it was a big deal. Maybe, in the end, this is just all about nostalgia. Can you repeat after me: Rosebud.

Update (Thursday PM): The WSJ is reporting late this afternoon that Meredith has, indeed, made a bid to acquire Time Inc. and it is in the $17 to $20 range. The upper range seems about right, while the lower range is less than what has been bid in the past.

My guess is that the board is eager to make a deal and be done with it. But Time Inc. has debt so… it still needs a good deal.

The New York Times, Sydney Ember and Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Koch Brothers Said to Back Time Inc. Deal Talks With Meredith

Talks between Time Inc., the publisher of Time and People, and Meredith, the publisher of Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens, fizzled this year. The new round of negotiations, motivated by the surprise entry of the Kochs, could lead to a quick deal, according to people involved in the discussions.

The Kochs have tentatively agreed to back Meredith’s offer with an equity injection of more than $500 million, the people with knowledge of the talks said. A spokesman for the brothers’ business, Koch Industries, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Poor Rupert. The world is moving on, and the old man is really struggling to figure out why his 19th century ideas about things do not seem to be resonating with readers.

Earlier this week world spread across the ocean from Australia that a poll showed that the nation was solidly in favor of legalizing same sex marriage.

The way Australians settled this issue was fascinating: the Australian Bureau of Statistics put out a non-binding postal vote, and when the results were in 61.6 percent of people said they were in favor of expanding marriage rights.

As The Guardian points out, newspapers across Australia were celebrating, but not the old publisher’s tabloid. Oh well, at some point it can’t be a good business model to base your media empire on old, white, men who are angry and throw things at the tele.

The Guardian, Amanda Meade:

Daily Telegraph the outlier as newspapers react to same-sex marriage vote

The Daily Telegraph has marked the historic vote for same-sex marriage with a downbeat front page featuring the miserable TV character Al Bundy from 1980s sitcom Married with Children…

…As the long-running Fox sitcom wrapped up 20 years ago the misanthropic husband slumped in front of the TV is unlikely to be a recognizable figure to the Telegraph’s younger readers.

…The negative image of traditional marriage in Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid contrasts with the Sydney Morning Herald’s joyful front page featuring the rainbow flag and the word YES.

Mumbrella, Zoe Samios:

News Corp remains viable but its publications are struggling in the digital world, says Murdoch

Murdoch said growth in digital advertising was causing damage to print products, admitting his local papers were struggling…

“It’s no question that the growth of advertising is about all digital. It’s been tremendously damaging to print and what we’ve been doing of course is trying to extend our subscription base,” he said. “So far we have done pretty well in replacing the lost advertising revenue in the major papers but it continues to be a big problem.”

If there was needed a clear sign that the Trump presidency is the first American oligarchy, this is it. What a disgusting decision by the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Washington Post, Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin:

Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe were banned in the U.S. Trump just reversed that.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that the remains of elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia can now be imported to the United States as trophies, reversing a ban under former president Barack Obama.

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that large sums paid for permits to hunt the animals could actually help them “by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” according to an agency statement.

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