Friday, January 20, 2006

CanWest Global buys into The New Republic

In what, on first glance, looks like an odd segue, CanWest Global Communications has bought a piece of the venerable (92 years old) U.S. liberal magazine The New Republic. Could this be a beachhead for an assault on the American market? If so, it's an unlikely one. TNR (as it likes to call itself) has been flagging lately in circulation**. However it does have a large archive and a fairly robust web presence* that may be attractive. Ideologically, the left-liberal (more the latter than the former) magazine would be a fairly comfortable fit with the Aspers.

CanWest Global Communications Corp. will now be the fourth partner in the private ownership of the magazine. The other owners are: Editor-in-Chief Martin Peretz, who has run the magazine since 1974 and co-founder of The; Roger Hertog, vice chairman of Alliance Capital; and Michael Steinhardt, philanthropist and president of Steinhardt Management Corporation, a private investment venture. Laurence Grafstein, managing director at Lazard, is an advisor to the partnership. No price was announced; the magazine is not publicly traded.

"We are particularly delighted," said Peretz, "to welcome CanWest to our ranks. Of course, there are many synergies that we envision between CanWest and TNR, especially in our web business and other areas in which our new partner commands tremendous expertise and authority. We are excited to have attracted associates that can help us extend our reach internationally."

The magazine was founded in 1914 by, among others, Justice Felix Frankfurter, columnist Walter Lippman, educator John Dewey and critic Edmund Wilson.

*Speaking for CanWest, CEO Leonard Asper observed that his company "anticipates that CanWest can help this distinguished weekly navigate the increasingly intricate new world of publishing. Of special interest is The New Republic's vast library of content and ambitious and increasingly successful web site,, which already commands a large audience from quality readers."

Perhaps it will lead to increasing syndication of TNR material in the National Post and other CanWest papers.

**UPDATE -- We looked at the circulation figures and TNR lost about 2.5% of total paid circ between 2003 and 2004, standing now at about 61,675.


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