When the latest reincarnated version of the Los Angeles Times Magazine hit front porches in the Sunday paper, it could have passed as an advertising circular.

The stocky 8x10 profile book, combined with its flimsy paper stock and 70-plus pages of fashion and furniture ads, certainly contributed to that impression.

So much so that plans are already under way to upgrade both the cover and the inside pages to a heavier grade glossy paper, said John O'Loughlin, president of target media and senior vice president of marketing at the Los Angeles Times.

O'Loughlin, who oversees the publication, said there are also plans under way to make the monthly magazine available at newsstands. The Sept. 7 launch targeted home delivery only.

"We received a great deal of feedback from our customers and one of the requests was that we make the magazine available beyond home delivery," O'Loughin said. "And we're considering that."

The magazine, which has been in the works for just six weeks since the Times killed an earlier version of the magazine in July, has generated some controversy. Unlike the multiple previous versions of the magazine, this was put under the control of the Times advertising department.

And then before the first edition even left the press, publisher Valerie Anderson departed, something that neither O'Loughlin nor magazine Editor Annie Gilbar would discuss. O'Loughlin would only say that a search for a new publisher is under way and that he's narrowed it down to a very short list.

Meanwhile, Gilbar, whose editorial credentials are steeped in the world of fashion, defended online jabs that she has taken regarding the magazine's bent toward narcissistic writing.

"We don't do investigative pieces or reviews," Gilbar said. "We take a personal storytelling approach about the many varied aspects of life in L.A."

Bryce Nelson, former Midwest bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times in Chicago and current professor at USC Annenberg School for Journalism, said that the new magazine doesn't pass muster with him.

"It is obviously highly fashion oriented and really doesn't offer the intelligent reader much," Nelson said. "I would have liked to have seen something like (automotive columnist) Dan Neil's column in there."

Nelson also criticized moving editorial control of the magazine over to the business side, arguing the content is sure to suffer. But O'Loughlin said the magazine belongs under control of the business department.

"The editorial department of the Times understands the newspaper business not the magazine business," O'Loughlin said. "What we have done is free the magazine up to be run by people who understand the magazine business."

Slicing and Dicing

Ticketmaster Corp. is set to go to trial this week in Los Angeles federal court over a scrap in the Mile High City.

The West Hollywood-based ticket seller sued Kroenke Sports Enterprises LLC, the Denver-based operator of Denver's Pepsi Center, which is home of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche and other teams.

Ticketmaster is seeking at least $1.45 million in damages claiming it lost ticket sales for events at Denver's downtown Paramount Theater and at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, northeast of Denver.

Ticketmaster doesn't have agreements with those venues but does have an exclusive ticketing agreement with Kroenke Sports. Ticketmaster claims Kroenke created shell companies to hide that it operates the two venues so it wouldn't have to pay the ticket fees it owes.

Neither company Ticketmaster nor Kroenke returned phone calls requesting an interview.

Vegas Tix

While industry giant Ticketmaster is grabbing all the headlines, Tix Corp., a little-known discount ticket service based in Studio City, has been doing booming business in Las Vegas.

Tix, which operates five discount selling ticket booths on the Vegas strip, said that sales for the typically slow months of July and August increased 80 percent and 68 percent respectively, according to Tix Chief Executive Mitch Francis.

"In contrast to other segments of the economy that are being adversely affected by slower consumer spending, our Las Vegas discount ticketing and dinner business is performing very well," Francis said.

Tix, which recently began trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol TIXC, specializes in offering consumers up to 50 percent off tickets to shows and sporting events on the same day the ticket is sold. The company also sells discount dinner and golf reservations.

Gross ticket sales for July and August exceeded $9.5 million, setting new records in the company's nearly six-year history. Revenues for the months rose 16 percent to $2.2 million, Francis said.

Hunting License

DirecTV Group Inc. has signed a new multi-year distribution agreement with Temecula-based Outdoor Channel Holdings Inc., securing broadcasting rights to the hunting and fishing channel.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the renewal agreement is part of the Outdoor Channel's efforts to boost advertising revenue. The company wants to maintain existing carriage agreements, such as the one with the El Segundo satellite TV service provider, while increasing its audience reach through new cable TV agreements.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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