Inside.com attracts potential buyer

Publisher Steven Brill of Brill Media Holdings may buy Inside.com publisher Powerful Media as early as Monday, although the deal could still fall through.

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Publisher Steven Brill is poised to buy Inside.com, according to published reports.

The Industry Standard, whose parent company prints the offline version of Inside, is reporting that Brill Media Holdings could unveil details to acquire Powerful Media, publisher of Inside.com, as early as Monday. However, the deal still could fall through, the magazine said.

Brill owns Brill's Content, a media watchdog magazine that follows the feats and follies of print, Web, television and radio outlets. Inside.com, launched last year, is quickly becoming a popular media trade magazine, taking a more irreverent and aggressive approach to topics ranging from the Oscars to Napster. The publications already have at least one close tie. One of Powerful Media's founders was Deanna Brown, a former president of Brill's Content.

Rumors that Powerful Media is shopping itself around have been circulating for some time. As previously reported, Primedia, a major Brill shareholder, confirmed that Inside's owner had approached it for a possible buyout two weeks ago.

Media analyst Aram Sinnreich, of Jupiter Research, said he's not surprised acquisition talk is continuing, given the increasing pressure on such companies to boost revenues.

"I can see the rationale for it, but I'm not sure it's going to help," he said, adding that both publications target a similar audience. "It's not clear what they'd be acquiring. Their user base? Their ad base?"

The move, if it goes through, would mark another media consolidation in what's becoming a grim market for many publications in this era of declining ad revenue. Publications that once were flush with ads grow slimmer with each edition, and many media companies--especially those that are new or Web only--are looking for ways to stay afloat.

Some are turning to subscription models or trying out larger ads. Others are looking to consolidate and cut staff and costs.

Inside.com would not comment, and Brill Media executives did not immediately return phone calls seeking confirmation of the acquisition plans.