Meredith Corp. Weighs Split of Publishing, Local TV Business

President and CEO, Meredith Corp. Tom Harty
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Meredith Corp.'s Tom Harty

The company is asking shareholders to vote on a charter amendment allowing for a "tax efficient" separation of its businesses.

Meredith Corp. is proposing an amendment to its corporate charter that would allow for the company to split its national media business and its local media business, though the company is emphasizing that no such split is imminent.

The company's national media division includes its publishing unit, which produces magazine titles like People, Entertainment Weekly, Better Homes & Gardens, Travel + Leisure, and Martha Stewart Living, among many others.

Its local TV business includes 18 TV stations across 13 states, including the CBS affiliates in Atlanta, St. Louis and Phoenix, and Fox affiliates in Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon.

In a statement announcing the amendment, the Des Moines, Iowa-based company said it "is not in response to any specific conversations or events. Instead, the Company believes it is a prudent step to increase the number of options available."

Meredith Corp. added that there is no timeline for or assurance of any split, though it stressed any separation would be "tax efficient" and would preserve the rights of shareholders.

"In order to maximize the flexibility of our Board and senior management to optimize transaction structure and tax efficiency and maintain the status quo voting rights of our shareholders regardless of transaction structure should the Board and senior management determine that a transaction is in the interest of shareholders, we are seeking a clarifying amendment to our Restated Articles of Incorporation," the proposal reads.

A separation, if it comes to fruition, would continue a more than decade-long trend of media companies splitting their print/publishing and television brands. In 2013 Rupert Murdoch split his company News Corp. in two, separating its U.S. TV businesses into 21st Century Fox. In 2015, Gannett spun off its local TV business into TEGNA, while keeping its legacy TV newspaper business. Likewise, in 2014 Tribune split its local TV and newspaper business into Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media.