The Death Agony Of America's Biggest Magazine

The death of the quintessential TV listings magazine is a shabby affair. The rumor we floated yesterday-that editor-in-chief Ian Birch and other staff are being laid off-appears indeed to be true. The new owners, Macrovision, is thought only interested in the TV Guide's online and electronic program guides; the print edition is loss-making and may be shut down if a buyer can't be found, according to Deadline Hollywood. The magazine-which could not cope with the proliferation of programming in the 1980s and 1990s and further lost relevance when viewers began to use the program guides supplied by their cable provider-will not be mourned. But let's at least pay some respect to its history.

The title was an instant success when it launched in 1953 and at its peak in 1970, with almost 20m readers, its circulation was by some margin the largest of any magazine. In 1988, the parent company went for an astonishing $3bn to Rupert Murdoch's News America-one of the Australian media mogul's most disastrous deals, as it later become evident. The electronic operations and the brand may retain some value; but the print title is essentially worthless except as an object lesson for a publishing industry under assault by technological change.