business news in context, analysis with attitude

Wal-Mart and Time Inc. are about to strike a deal that will have the publishing company create a new, low-priced women's service magazine that will be exclusively distributed at Wal-Mart's stores.

While the deal is not yet firm - reportedly because Time Inc. is extremely cautious about making commitments because of its own recent financial troubles following its merger with AOL - the parties are in the final stages of giving the project a green light.

The launch would likely happen in the second half of 2004. It would be the first time that Time Inc. developed a magazine for a single retailer; of course, in this case the single retailer controls up to 20 percent of the newsstand magazine sales in the US.

The New York Post reports that if the magazine launches, it will be operated in an atmosphere closer to the budget-consciousness of Wal-Mart as opposed to the rarefied air of Rockefeller Center-based Time Inc. "Editors are being told they will have to answer their own phones and fetch their own accessories," one insider told the Post. "They won't have assistants."
KC's View:
Answering their own phones? Fetching their own accessories? No assistants?

Hell, these folks could be working at MNB

The interesting thing about this project will be where the editorial content comes from. When Time has done specialized magazines in the past, its tendency has been to steal editorial content from other publications in its stable. We're not sure that will serve Wal-Mart's interest, nor that Wal-Mart would accept such an approach.

It isn’t exactly connected, but just yesterday there was a report that Wal-Mart's Asda Group in the UK is going to be testing in-store media screens in its stores, using technology top communicate both pro-Wal-Mart editorial messages and advertising to shoppers.

It's all part of the master plan for the Nation of Wal-Mart - dominate not just the retailing environment, but, as much as possible, the discourse and discussion.