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Editorial control of Sports Illustrated in new hands: NPR



Authentic Brands Group, who bought Illustrated Sports in May, recently licensed its print and digital publishing rights to another company.

Mark Lennihan / AP


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Mark Lennihan / AP

Authentic Brands Group, who bought Illustrated Sports in May, recently licensed its print and digital publishing rights to another company.

Mark Lennihan / AP

The magazine Illustrated Sports and his site have a new publisher.

The editorial content of the magazine, 65 years old, will be controlled by a digital company called Maven, in an agreement announced Monday. Ross Levinsohn, the former controversial editor of the Los Angeles Times, has been appointed CEO.

Just three weeks after Sports Illustrated was bought for $ 110 million by a brand and a marketing company called Authentic Brands Group. Under this agreement, its previous owner, Meredith Corp., has exercised editorial control for two years. Instead, Authentic Brands now has an agreement with Maven.

Maven, a media company based in Seattle, was founded by James Heckman, who previously worked for Fox and Yahoo. Heckman and Levinsohn, who was also an executive at Fox and Yahoo, have long been closely linked professionally.

They plan to rename the organization Sports Illustrated Media and extend the brand internationally in partnership with Authentic Brands.

Although the organization did not provide an editorial vision, the agreement raises questions about the editorial future of Illustrated Sports. The commercial practices of Levinsohn and Heckman have been the subject of a previous NPR investigation.

As a publisher of the Los Angeles Times and investor in a digital company called True / Slant, Levinsohn has adopted a strategy he called "gravitas with scale" – a model based on unpaid contributors and resulting in job losses for traditional journalists in the room press release of the Tribune press channel.

Levinsohn has been prosecuted twice as a leader and accused of promoting a work environment conducive to sexual harassment, NPR reported. His employers settled both the lawsuits against him and his co-defendants for undisclosed sums.

Maven paid $ 45 million against future royalties from Illustrated Sports, according to a filing from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the terms, Authentic Brands will pay Maven a portion of the revenue and a 10-year renewable license for a total of 100 years.

Monday's sale is only the latest media acquisition for Maven. Just last week, he bought TheStreet's financial information site for $ 16.5 million.

The first issue of Illustrated Sports published in newsstands in 1954. The magazine, which mainly covered sport, also featured deep dives in the areas of civil and human rights, politics, power and money through the prism of sport.

David Folkenflik of NPR contributed to this report.


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