UPDATE: Hearst CEO Ganzi Quits Due to Disputes

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By: E&P Staff and The Associated Press

Hearst Corp. says Victor Ganzi has resigned as CEO over policy differences with the board of the privately held media company.

Hearst, which owns newspapers, magazines and TV stations across the country, said in a statement Wednesday that Frank Bennack Jr. would reassume the CEO role on an interim basis.

Ganzi had been with Hearst for 18 years, the last six as CEO. Bennack most recently had been vice chairman of the board.

Hearst’s properties include the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Albany Times-Union, Cosmopolitan magazine and 29 television stations.

Reuters adds the following:

“Hearst did not say what the differences were, though the biggest issue facing the company ? as with other magazine and newspaper publishers ? is how to adapt to an age where more people visit the Internet for news and information, cutting away at once-lucrative print advertising sales.

“The former chief executive, Frank Bennack Jr., 75, who stepped down in 2002, will reassume his role as chief executive while a search committee looks for a successor. ‘Based upon 15 record-profit years out of the last 16, Hearst is well positioned to extend its leadership in the media industry in the future,’ Mr. Ganzi, 61, said in the Hearst statement. ‘I will work with the company to ensure an orderly transition of leadership.'”

The New York Times reported on Friday: “The ouster of a media chieftain is usually preceded by public signs of trouble, but Mr. Ganzi?s fall after six years came as a surprise to executives at Hearst and some of its major joint venture partners, and to investment bankers who track the company closely. They insisted on anonymity to avoid damaging their relationships with Hearst management.

“They said there had been disagreement in the company over recent moves to deepen its investment in newspapers, contrary to the conventional wisdom among analysts and investors, but they could not say whether that was the reason for the shake-up. In the last year, Hearst invested $288 million in the MediaNews Group, a struggling newspaper chain, bought two small newspapers in Connecticut, and announced plans to build a new printing plant for The Times-Union in Albany.

“One person briefed on the company?s strategies said: ‘The word had come from on high that they weren?t doing enough getting into digital, nothing big enough to fundamentally change the business model. But I don?t know of anyone who thought they were leading up to a move to remove him.'”

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