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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

‘Calabasas’ Goes National With Big Apple Expansion

Buoyed by strong circulation numbers and ad sales revenues, “Calabasas, Living at its Best” magazine has just made its national debut, as its most recent issue is currently being sold in newstands across New York City. Only six issues old, the magazine began just over a year ago with a direct-to-mail circulation of 20,000 copies and 40 pages of paid ads. Currently, it goes out to 56,000 homes and features 90 pages of paid ads. But the magazine hasn’t merely relied on direct mailings as it has contracted to gain placement in major hotels such as the Westlake Village Inn, the Warner Center Marriott and the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. Additionally, it has expanded its local availability from Camarillo and Valencia to the north, all the way south to Manhattan Beach. The magazine’s publisher Richard Bleiweiss, attributes the magazine’s growth to both the quality of its editorial content and its ability to project the idea of Calabasas as a state of mind, rather than as a strictly a geographic locale. “We’ve gotten to the point where we are now being pitched all over town by major celebrities that want to be a part of the magazine. We’ve tried to move away from the local type of a magazine and become more of an entertainment based lifestyle magazine that stands on its own. The reason why we kept the name is because the lifestyle is like a state of mind,” Bleiweiss said. “We’re really blanketing the upscale regions of the Valley and we’ve been growing rapidly. We’ve been on ‘Regis and Kelly’ and on the television show ‘Extra,’ and will be on again in January.” Bleiweiss envisioned the lifestyle magazine as a hybrid, fitting in somewhere between In Style and Town and Country, but strove to make it younger and more trendy. Yet increased placement in Los Angeles County and on New York newstands is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Bleiweiss. “In the first quarter of next year, we are going into the major transportation hubs of both New York and Los Angeles, in places like Penn Station, Grand Central Station, JFK, LAX and all the major hubs,” Bleiweiss said. “Along with that we’ll be going into the national bookstore chains of Barnes & Noble, B. Dalton, Borders and others throughout the nation.” Times Valley Turmoil The Los Angeles Times has announced that it’s shuttering its sprawling 26-acre Chatsworth newspaper-printing facility. The move is expected to result in 110 local job cuts, though the Times may spare some of these positions and move them to an as-yet determined Valley location. Consolidation in the newspaper’s production facilities is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2006, after which time the company will begin to sell the 250,000 square foot facility. The facility opened in 1983 with much fanfare and trumpeted the Times’ then-emphasis on the Valley. In recent years, many critics have bemoaned the Times lack of enough local coverage and the trimming of its staff in its Valley bureau. However, David Garcia, a spokesman for the Times, claims that the recent moves have in no way changed the Times’ desire to cover news in the Valley. “We’re currently evaluating a number of relocation options for our employees, but we will continue to maintain our commitment to the Valley and Ventura County. It remains a vital part of our coverage and the consolidation will not affect the publication of our editions,” Garcia said. “Additionally, it will not affect our coverage of the Valley items. Reporters will still continue to report Valley stories as focused on the Valley. Our editor has stated that we’re going to be more aggressive on local coverage, though we haven’t announced any specific plans on them yet. ” Garcia also stressed that technology had made the Chatsworth operations obsolete. “We looked at the efficiencies and the Chatsworth plant was the least efficient of our facilities,” Garcia said. “They ran at significantly lower speeds plus the Chatsworth plant wasn’t as centrally located as our other plants.” Shares of Tribune Co., (the owner of the Times) which have traded between $30.64 and $43.41 over the past year, closed at $31.13, as of the close of trading on Dec. 14. Little Interest in Hallmark According to a report last week in the Wall Street Journal, the Studio City-based Hallmark Channel has so far drawn little interest from prospective buyers and that the Channel’s parent company, Crown Media Holdings may take the firm off of the market. Most analysts speculated that any potential buyer for the Channel would likely be a massive media corporation and that speculation was confirmed, as reportedly News Corp. submitted a bid of close to $1 billion for the channel. However, Hallmark reportedly wants at least $1.2 billion for the program and as much as $2 billion if the Hallmark Library of movies is included. The channel has struggled as the market has grown increasingly difficult for a stand-alone cable channel to prosper. Such channels have less leverage than larger firms that can wield more power with cable and satellite providers. “The Hallmark channel just had less ammunition to use in getting into a basic tier than the other guys. If you’re part of the Time Warner or the Fox group or the CNN group or the CNBC/NBC group you have more leverage. Any single channel is going to have problems,” Dennis McAlpine, the managing director of McAlpine & Associates, said. “I don’t know if it will sell, it depends how bad they want to get out. But they’re right that a single channel has limited future. They need to decide how badly they want to be protected.” Undoubtedly, Hallmark’s financial situation might have scared off potential buyers. The company lost $248 million last year, although $200 million was related to a sale of assets and amortization of programming and subscriber costs. Additionally, the channel has a debt load of roughly $900 million. Crown had indicated this summer that if none of the bids were in the range that it was seeking, the channel would come off the market. McAlpine said that if they do decide to take the market off the block, it’s possible that they might try to partner with other channels to be a stronger unit. “You never know, they might go the other way and find some other channels to do a multi-channel of their own. It isn’t the indication that we’ve got so far, but there’s an old expression that seems to apply here: misery loves company,” McAlpine said.

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