Insiders are bracing for another round of cuts at the the tabloid empire formerly known as American Media, which that abruptly changed its name last Friday after bouncing its longtime CEO David Pecker and announcing it would be merging with retail distribution company Accelerate 360.
“We will be communicating more details about this exciting transition in the weeks to come,” CEO David Parry told staffers last week in announcing that the publisher of Radar Online, OK! and inTouch would be renamed A360 Media.
But insiders say they are expecting nothing but bad news to come in the magazine division. “Without question there will be redundancies,” a source said.
Some 20 people have already been laid off in the weeks leading up to the merger at the Boca Raton, Fla. office that had previously acted as the company’s headquarters, another insider told Media Ink. A spokesperson for the magazines declined to comment.
The publishing company in late March cut about a quarter of its staff and instituted 23 percent pay cuts for the survivors.
“Fat hope of that being restored now, of course,” grumbled one insider.
In its press release announcing that merger Friday, only four of the company’s 14 titles — Us Weekly, Life & Style, OK! and Men’s Journal — were mentioned. Absent from the release was the company’s infamous National Enquirer and the smaller supermarket tabloids the Globe and the National Examiner, even though they are included in the sale to Accelerate 360.
One insider said he found the omission strange given how well the supermarket tabloids have been doing during the pandemic compared to the mags that were mentioned. “The glossies sales are really bad because airports, newsstands etc are not getting traffic while the tabs, because they are sold mainly in supermarkets — which are doing well during Covid — are doing OK.”
One reason may be that the Enquirer and two other smaller tabloids were promised to Hudson News wholesaler James Cohen for $100 million in April 2019, but the deal was never consummated. It’s unclear whether it ever will be.
In response to queries from Media Ink, Cohen texted that he was “on a boat” with poor reception.
But he managed to get a text off to The Washington Post in which he explained why he is not doing the deal.
“The economics of the deal simply changed too much following the covid outbreak,” Cohen said in a text to The Washington Post, blaming a “significant sales drop-off.”
Of course, the coronavirus outbreak did not happen until nearly a year after Cohen said he was buying the embattled title, which had already drawn federal scrutiny for paying off a woman who said she had an affair with Trump. And in early 2019 Jeff Bezsos accused the Enquirer of trying to blackmail him.
A spokesman for Chatham Asset Management, which owns 80 percent of the former American Media and a similar share of the distribution company, declined to comment.