Spain’s Planeta Group initiated an adjustment policy in Colombia which has resulted in the closure of the Hoy newspaper and a change in the publishing frequency and focus of the magazine Cambio, which has transitioned from a weekly covering politics and current events to a monthly magazine featuring more general content.

According to a statement released by Casa Editorial El Tiempo, the changes introduced at Cambio are due to "a global decline in political and current events magazines brought on by changes in readers’ habits, which has resulted in advertisers shifting their investment decisions in such magazines." Consequently, the magazine will now focus its content on topics of interest to readers, such as travel, health, sports, environment, and national and international news.

Planeta’s decision to change the magazine’s editorial focus has sparked fierce controversy in Colombia, where it has been perceived as an attempt to censor a frequently vocal critic.  In fact, both Publisher Rodrigo Pardo and Editor-in-chief Maria Elvira Samper have been let go.

Another reason behind Planeta’s decision could be economics.  According to a source familiar with the purchase, the price Planeta offered for the majority stake in Casa Editorial El Tiempo was much higher than bids submitted by other interested consortiums, such as Argentina's Clarin group.  The premium it paid for the publishing company, together with the cancellation of the bidding competition for the third television channel, could also account for the cuts faced by the Spanish group.

Although Planeta’s most important presence in Latin America comes from its foray into the book publishing industry, in 2007 the company expanded its reach to include media, buying 55% of Casa Editorial El Tiempo (Colombia) for 55 million euros.  At the same time, Planeta closed deals with the rest of the company’s minority shareholders through stock purchase and sale options.  Planeta also participated throughout 2009 in a bid for the awarding of a third television channel in this country, although the bidding contest was eventually suspended upon the withdrawal of the other two bidders: the Cisneros Group of Venezuela and Spain’s Prisa.

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Portada Staff

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