Daily Beast-Newsweek Deal Almost Done

A merger “should be done, but isn't quite,” an individual close to the talks says. Under the deal, Tina would report to Diller and Harman

EXCLUSIVE

Tina Brown is inching closer back to print — the Daily Beast-Newsweek deal is almost done, TheWrap has learned.

According to an individual close to the talks, a merger between Barry Diller and Tina Brown's Daily Beast and Sidney Harman's Newsweek is imminent.

"It should be done, but isn't quite," this indivdual told TheWrap.

Under the pending deal, Brown would report to a board of directors composed of Diller and Harman.

Discussions between the camps about a potential Newsweek-Daily Beast merger have accelerated three weeks after the initial talks broke down over editorial control. (The renewed talks were first reported in the New York Post.)

Diller has played this one shrewdly; he walked from the table when he didn't get what he wanted. Harman has spent the past three weeks trying to find an alternative. In media circles, Harman is rumored to be close to offering the top editor job to another candidate, possibly a former New York Times editor, as an alternative to a Daily Beast deal.

A representative for Diller’s IAC said the company would not comment on the Post report or merger discussions. A rep for Newsweek did not return a request for comment.

The idea of an editorial committee — to which Brown, as the top editor, would report — has been discussed, according to another source.

"We got 50-50 economically, but 50-50 in terms of governance and all of that was not obtainable," Diller said at the Daily Beast’s own Innovator Summit in New Orleans last month. "'Who, as George Bush said, is 'The Decider'?' [is] a real murky area to navigate." (Last month in announcing the broken-down talks, Brown said, “the engagement was fun but the pre-nup got too complex.”)

But it now appears Harman — who reportedly did not want to cede that kind of control of Newsweek to IAC — has softened on that point as his search for a permanent editor for the struggling newsweekly recently entered its third month, making the allure of Brown at the helm much more appealing. The 92-year-old Harman agreed to buy the struggling newsweekly for $1 (plus assumption of at least $40 million in liabilities) in August.

For Diller, the partnership would give him the print product he desperately wants, and Brown the kind of national magazine platform from which she used to preach.

Less than a week after pronouncing the Newsweek-Daily Beast deal dead, Diller was in New Orleans touting the power of the print medium.

"One way or the other, we'll either buy or create some form of print product,” he said. “As much as digital of course is going to take more and more share, advertisers like to have a print representation of what they're trying to say, if it's tied well and into this very fast moving Internet publication."