As the Page Turns

Black magazine owners shake up the industry with the next chapter of business

that community,” says Logan. “Our first mission is to expand and grow into the African American marketplace. The opportunity to grow and go global will depend on our partners providing the information and making that decision.”

Time Warner is no stranger to the African American media industry. Aside from its investment in Vibe/Spin Ventures, which launched Spin, Blaze and the Vibe magazine and television talk show, Time Warner had a 15% stake in BET until 1995.

AH! VANGUARDE
Coming off the ropes swinging, Vanguarde proved it wasn’t going the long route. There would be no 30-year anniversary before Vanguarde made its first $100 million. As part of the alliance formed in February between BET, Vanguarde, and Provender Capital L.L.C., a private equity fund based in New York, BET and Provender are to front the capital for the magazine conglomerate and Vanguarde’s team is to manage the magazine products. Initially, there were five publications: BET’s Heart and Soul, Emerge, and BET Weekend, as well as Vanguarde’s original titles, Honey and Impact.

At first glance, this deal seemed to prime Vanguarde as a major contender in the industry. The combined entities aimed to reach a circulation of 2.2 million, which would make one-year-old Vanguarde the second-largest publishing giant after 58-year-old Johnson Publishing Co. in Chicago (No. 3 on the be industrial/service 100 list with $386.8 million in sales for 1999). Ebony and Jet magazines, published by Johnson Publishing, have a combined circulation of 2.7 million.

But soon after signing the deal with BET, Clinkscales began making some major changes. As a result, the circulation of the five-magazine-deal dropped from 2 million to about 600
,000.

These moves have left some industry insiders leery of Clinkscales’ leadership and vision, but the BET team is still very confident that the Harvard Business School graduate knows his stuff.

“Keith decided to suspend BET Weekend until he finds out about the staff, the economics, and what makes the best combination of magazines,” says Debra Lee, president and COO of BET Holdings II. “It’s just part of the whole new deal to take the magazines forward.”

With its suspension, BET Weekend appeared to be the second of BET’s three titles that Clinkscales closed, but he sets the record straight here. “I only closed one publication, and that publication was BET Weekend,” says Clinkscales about the magazine that accounted for 1.8 million of BET magazine readers. “We put Emerge on hiatus to re-launch it as Savoy.”

Within months of inking the deal with BET, Clinkscales decided Emerge magazine, which had plummeted from a circulation of as high as 300,000 in the past to a low of 165,000 this year, would serve better as a lifestyles publication with a broader editorial focus. George Curry, Emerge’s editor in chief, resigned in objection to the change.

Curry, who had been the magazine’s editor since 1993, is presently consulting investors about plans to either buy the Emerge name or start a similar news magazine before the end of the year.

According to Vanguarde Editorial Director Roy Johnson, decreased circulation and stagnant advertising from

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