Meredith Shares Slip On News of Local Media Layoffs

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On Thursday, WWD took a pause from its N.Y. Fashion Week coverage to share that Meredith Corp., the parent of such venerable women’s lifestyle brands as PEOPLE, would be shedding 180 jobs.


But, it turns out the Local Media arm of the Des Moines-based company is bearing the brunt of the layoffs.

Of those being let go, 130 are within the division of Meredith comprised of 17 broadcast TV stations.

In a statement from Meredith provided to RBR+TVBR, the company said Thursday that it has undertaken initiatives “to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and position our business for continued growth. These include cost-control measures as well as a reallocation of resources to higher-growth areas.”

Is this an indication that the national media arm is growing faster in COVID-19 than Meredith Local Media, even with rich political dollars flowing in and retransmission consent revenue offsetting any spot dollar dips?

“As noted on our FY20 Q4 earnings call, while we’re seeing slight improvement, advertising remains significantly below our historical norms,” the statement to WWD reads.

MDP was up 1 cent in early after-hours trading on Friday after closing at $13.33 — right within the bell curve for the stock since COVID-19 hit.

CENTRALIZATION, WITH SPLIT NEXT?

The WWD report notes that Meredith Local Media will see its master control shift to Atlanta, eliminating operations in Phoenix.

Furthermore, the division will now centralize all graphic design in Nashville, and creative services will be based in Nashville and Phoenix, a Meredith spokesperson tells RBR+TVBR.

Meanwhile, while the spokesperson could not elaborate on the job losses, it is confirmed that a reporter or anchor is among the group being let go.

These moves come just days after Meredith Corp. revealed it is taking “a prudent step to increase the number of options available” by seeking shareholder approval of an amendment to its charter allowing it to split its national and local assets into two separate companies — should it elect to make such a move.

Meredith’s Local Media Group, led by Patrick McCreery, includes 17 broadcast television stations, including two in Phoenix; and stations in Portland, Ore.; Nashville; Atlanta; and  St. Louis. In this arm of Meredith is MNI Targeted Media, which delivers targeted advertising solutions to upward of 1,200 clients on a local, regional and national level.

Nothing could happen until the end of 2020, or later: Meredith intends to seek approval of the charter amendment at its annual meeting of shareholders, which is scheduled to be held on November 11. It’s required under Iowa state law.

 


RBR+TVBR RELATED READ:

A new VP/GM is in place at both the Meredith Local Media stations serving Atlanta, and at its Mobile, Alabama operations. In Atlanta, the position goes to the woman who previously served as President/GM of TEGNA’s NBC affiliate in Charlotte.