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FishbowlNY’s 2009 Lists: New York Media’s Biggest Business Decisions

4 times square.jpgNew York is home to some of the biggest media companies in the country, like Condé Nast, The New York Times Co., News Corp., Hearst and Time Warner, just to name a few.

This year, those companies were imperiled, struggling to survive like many other companies around the world. But as print media disputed declarations that its days were numbered, these once-great companies that made their money from print pubs were fighting hard to keep their heads above water. In order to do that they made some decisions — like bringing in new investors, closing publications and selling them off. It was in no way a big year for media deals, but there were a few. Below, our list of the biggest business stories to come out of the New York media world this year.

Bloomberg LP Buys BusinessWeek

After seeking a buyer for BusinessWeek for most of the fall, publisher McGraw-Hill finally cut a deal with Bloomberg LP, which snapped up the magazine in October. The result? Bloomberg BusinessWeek, a new vision of the mag that has a new editor and a smaller staff.

After the jump, Carlos Slim invests in the Times, classical music and the Comcast-NBCU deal.


New York Times Gets a New Investor

Strapped for cash, the Times Co. needed a new investor fast. In January, the company announced it had reached a deal with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu for a $250 million loan. The money must have been enough to keep the paper publisher afloat for the rest of the year, since the Times Co. later decided not to sell The Boston Globe and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, although it wasn’t enough to save 100 newsroom jobs.

Times Co. Sells Classical Music Station To WNYC

The Times Co. may not have been eager to sell its Boston-area newspaper assets, but it was interested in selling of its classical radio station WQXR. In July, the company struck a deal with local New York radio station WNYC to purchase the station. Univision Radio Inc. also got in on the deal, and WQXR moved from 96.3 FM to 105.9 FM this fall.

Comcast Buys Stake In NBC Universal

The biggest and most talked about media M&A deal this year was undoubtedly Comcast‘s bid to buy a controlling interest in General Electric-owned NBC Universal. After much ado, the deal was unveiled earlier this month, with Comcast paying $6.5 billion to GE in cash for a 51 percent stake in NBCU. Now, we wait for regulatory approval.

Reader’s Digest Association Files for Chapter 11

As it struggled under $2.2 billion in debt, Reader’s Digest Association decided to file for Chapter 11 in August, hoping the strategy will help it reduce its debt to a more manageable $550 million.

And RDA wasn’t the only media company to go that route. Sun-Times Media Group, b-to-b publisher Cygnus Media and, more recently, Citadel Broadcasting Corp., were among those media organizations who entered bankruptcy in 2009.

Condé Nast Hires Consultants

After cutting jobs and shuttering Domino and Portfolio during the first half of the year, Condé Nast decided to hire consulting company McKinsey & Co. in July to help trim costs. The fallout? Four more magazine closures (including the beloved Gourmet) and hundreds of layoffs.

Others: AOL spins off from Time Warner; Reed Elsevier looks to sell off part of its U.S. business; and Nielsen sells a slew of brands but folds others, including Editor & Publisher.

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