Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Thursday, November 10, 2005

media and society

-- media and society -- you will be assimilated ... or at least acquired

We interrupt your ongoing series of film reviews for this brief announcement and analysis: all your gay media are belong to us.

Gay Media Firms to Combine - Los Angeles Times By Molly Selvin, Times Staff Writer

San Francisco-based PlanetOut Inc. said Wednesday that it would acquire the Los Angeles-based publisher of the Advocate and Out magazines for $24 million in cash, combining the nation's two largest gay-oriented media companies. PlanetOut said it also would assume $7 million in debt owed by LPI Media Inc., whose four magazines have a combined circulation of 8.2 million. Privately held LPI, which also publishes books, has 123 employees and about $30 million in annual sales.

PlanetOut, with 152 employees, operates websites that offer dating, travel, shopping and other services. The websites, which include PlanetOut.com, Gay.com and Kleptomaniac.com, offer advertisers the most extensive network of gay and lesbian people in the world, said Chairman and Chief Executive Lowell Selvin. The deal "combines the massive online reach that PlanetOut can deliver with the amazing content and editorial that LPI Media can deliver," he said.

Richard Fetyko, a senior vice president with investment bank Merriman Curhan Ford & Co., said the combination would help both the magazines and the websites reach more consumers and advertisers. "It effectively makes it the largest media company within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender" communities, he said.

You know, I can't see how being one big lump o' media can actually help these companies reach any more people than they do. And I wonder how they're going to effectively differentiate and pull things together. Do they decide to make PlanetOut and gay.com more distinct from each other, maybe stripping certain types of content from each site to make them more single purpose? What happens, say, to Alyson Publications in this new configuration? (Likely nothing, really; it really is unique within the Liberation Publishing/PlanetOut configuration.) Does combining this way mean that there's someone inside this mess that will decide that yes ... yes, they CAN try to acknowledge that lesbians exist!

OK, that's seriously overstating things ... but there's no denying that Liberation Publication and gay.com are both much more focused on men than on women. Just look at the variety of offerings they have for men ... and then name one that's oriented toward women. Go on, I'll wait ... can't do it, can you? To be fair, Alyson, PlanetOut itself, and a couple of other sites have both a few parts specifically addressing lesbian concerns, and a few parts that address issues for gays, lesbians and transgendered/transexuals in general, but on the whole, the vast majority of offerings are aimed at gay men.

In any event, as noted, I really can't see how creating a Big Lump O' Gaydom is going to do anything useful for the consumer. Better for the company, yes; more expensive to operate, but the potential for increased revenue has to be there, else why do something like this? Better for advertisers and business clients, possibly; you can work all sorts of advertising deals now that you couldn't, and the concept of being able to do one big ad buy that floats across a much wider variety of media has to appeal. Better for the rest of us ... eh. Can't really see how. Or, more precisely, the results remain to be seen.

Posted by iain at 02:59 PM in category media and society

 

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