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Barry Diller: Newsweek Purchase a ‘Mistake’

Tells Milken Global Conference aud that it was 'not possible' to print magazine any longer

Barry Diller

IAC chairman Barry Diller says that “it was a mistake” to buy Newsweek, and even expressed doubts about the viability of the 80-year-old news weekly that went to a digital only format last year.

In an interview Monday with Bloomberg TV’s “Lunch Money,” Diller said that printing a magazine is a “fools errand if that magazine is a news weekly.”

“There are some one-off magazines that have no competition, essentially, in their field. Luxury magazines. Advertisers must advertise in them. But for a news magazine — which is a bit of an odd phrase today, news weekly, we have news instantly — it was not possible to print it any longer. So we said we will offer a digital product.”

Diller was speaking at the Milken Global Conference in Beverly Hills. He did praise the journalists working at the magazine, calling it a “very, very solid newsroom.”

But of the digital product, he said, “we will see.”

“I do not have great expectations,” he said. “I wish I had not bought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”

Newsweek was sold in 2010 by the Washington Post Co. to audio mogul Sidney Harman for $1 and assumption of its liabilities. Harman eventually merged it with the Daily Beast Co., owned by IAC. After his death, Harman’s family decided to end additional investment in the publication.