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Kerr takes ‘good’ news to London


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Across the Atlantic Ocean in London, Meredith Corp. Chairman William Kerr told those attending a recent magazine conference that “down is the new up” in the world of investment.

The Guardian newspaper reported on its Organ Grinder blog site: “‘Maybe you’d all be happier if you were selling fish,’ opened Meredith Corporation chair William Kerr, acknowledging both our former fishy surroundings in Old Billingsgate and the rotten economy as the first session of the World Magazine Conference got under way. He said the company’s share price had gone up 30 percent last week on the back of revenues that were ‘only’ down 12 percent.”

The light tone aside, it’s reassuring for Meredith and its stockholders to know that the industry wants to hear Kerr’s opinions in a difficult time.

“If the recession wasn’t enough of a challenge, there’s the continuing dilemma of making money from digital and the intensifying debate about Google’s influence on the industry,” the Guardian noted.

Didier Quillot, CEO of Lagardere Active, the French owner of Elle magazine, said traditional advertising revenue lost in the economic slump will not return, and neither will revenue lost through falling print circulation.

“The Internet is nice, but it will stay small; it will do somewhere between 5 percent of our business at worst and 20 percent at best,” he said.

Quillot said publishers need to invest in key brands, develop new mobile platforms and branch out into events, business-to-business projects and custom publishing brand extensions.

As for Kerr, the blog site reported, he “sounded a bit bored with the making-money-from-the-Web dilemma and moved straight on to another well-trodden assertion, that mobile phones offer the next wave of opportunity for publishers.”

That sums up the situation. Before one new challenge can be mastered, it’s time to tackle the next one.

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