TV Guide taps Steward

NEW YORK — Looking to break out of a circulation slump and an outdated image, TV Guide has tapped former Martha Stewart Living brand-building guru David H. Steward, 40, as its new prexy and CEO.

The move is part of the reorganization — and substantial flurry of new position titles — under way at TV Guide’s parent company, News America Publishing Group, with Anthea Disney at the helm.

News America comprises all of News Corp.’s U.S.-based print and digital publishing operations, including TV Guide, the TV Guide Entertainment Network, the Weekly Standard and HarperCollins Publishers (Jane Friedman was recently named prexy/CEO of HarperCollins).

With a circulation of 13 million, TV Guide is still America’s largest weekly, but spokeswoman Rachel Breinin told Daily Variety that number has remained flat for two years, and is down from 14 million in 1995.

Under editor-in-chief Steven Reddicliffe, the mag has aimed for a “newsier, more opinionated” tone, and ad revenues reportedly climbed 17.4% from January through September. Staffers, including Steward, however, said biz-side promos had yet to “successfully communicate” the mag’s editorial changes to the public.

“Almost everyone in America has read TV Guide at some point in their lives, but I find that people are surprised when they pick it up now and see how good it really is, and if they’re surprised, they’re probably not buying it regularly,” said Steward. “It’s my job to get the word out that this is not the same TV Guide we grew up with.”

Steward says his immediate plans include taking advantage of “a number of multimedia brand-building opportunities,” such as TV Guide broadcast and/or cable specials and cross-promotions online, in print and on TV.

Under Steward’s financial management, Martha Stewart Living’s circulation grew from 725,000 to its current 2.3 million, with ad revenue increasing 1,000% since 1990. While managing MSL’s magazine division, Steward also helped develop a book division, a six-days-a-week TV show and the MSL Web site.

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