UPDATE 1-Hollywood showbiz bible 'Variety' up for sale

Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:44pm EDT

LOS ANGELES, March 23 (Reuters) - Hollywood trade paper Variety, one of the oldest and most respected sources of information for the entertainment industry, is being put up for sale, owners Reed Business Information said on Friday.

The unit of business publishing company Reed Elsevier said it was selling Variety as part of its efforts of the past three years to divest its U.S. business magazines.

"With RBI's increasing focus on data services, and the sale of our other US print magazines, it now makes sense for us to sell the business," Reed Business Information Chief Executive Mark Kelsey said in a statement.

"Variety has an incredibly talented team who have successfully innovated and expanded the franchise in industry news and analysis. I have no doubt the business will continue to thrive under new ownership," Kelsey added.

Variety started life in New York in 1905 as a weekly entertainment-trade magazine and went to a daily edition based in Los Angeles in 1933. It now also has a website and covers TV and movie reviews, box-office data, and business deals in the global entertainment industry.

But it has faced increasing competition from trade rivals like The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood and The Wrap, as well as general entertainment websites offering news for free.

In late 2009, Variety put its online content behind a paywall but saw page views drop some 40 percent, according to figures from Nielsen.

Advertising is a large source of revenue for the daily trade paper, particularly during Hollywood awards seasons when movie studios take out large ads promoting actors and films for Oscar consideration.

A source close to Reed said the decision to sell had nothing to do with the state of business at Variety itself.

The publication is also known for its insider jargon, including terms like "skeins" for TV series, and "toppers" to describe corporate leaders.

Variety president Neil Stiles said in a statement on Friday that he had "every confidence that under new ownership, Variety will continue to thrive, innovate and provide fantastic insight into the sector."

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