Media Medium
23 July 2001


Declaration of independence

The debt-laden publisher, IPC Media, is to undergo a period of change,
sparked by its buyout by AOL Times Warner and the advertising downturn.
So where will this leave IPC's chief executive, Sly Bailey?

On 5 August, the first of several oppositions of Saturn and Pluto takes place in the media and publishing signs of Gemini and Sagittarius. This is the big line-up for 2001 that astrologers have been anticipating. It's a tough one for the whole media sector and significantly, it happens to fall on the day of IPC Media's birthday (August 5 1897, origin as Newnes).

As a royal Leo, resplendent in its palace at Kings Reach Tower, IPC Media is kicking in to its hundred-year-plus Pluto Half- Cycle, a do-or-die time when the old tricks don't work any more - ask Marks & Spencer, which has just been through the same cycle. The company, still loaded with debt since its management buy-out in 1998, will transform drastically because it has to, and the AOL Times Warner buy-out is the catalyst for change. So where does this leave Sly Bailey?

Ms Bailey is a strong Aquarian (January 24 1962) with five of her ten planets in this communicative air sign, so we can expect her to have all the qualities of the Water Carrier. This makes her an ideas person, high-minded and strongly principled, full of theories and schemes that are way ahead of their time. Aquarians cultivate friendships and are supposed to like working with groups and teams, firmly believing that they are democrats. But they are, in fact, the original enlightened despots of the zodiac, doing exactly what they want to do regardless. With a cool, objective approach coupled to an innovative, break-the- rules Uranus, the Aquarian psyche is full of contradiction.

Other factors in Sly Bailey's horoscope include a meticulous, hard-working Virgo Moon, giving her a liking for plans, agendas and marketing strategies, but with a lack of water and fire, she doesn't easily connect with a populist imagination, and she probably doesn't sufficiently trust her intuition.

Uranus is the biggest player in her horoscope this year, triggering Mercury, her communication planet, a chaotic, roller- coaster effect which is throwing things at her from all angles. It is also highly innovative and suggests her current project of reshaping magazine publishing along the lines of multi-media platforms. It " brings opportunities for exercising originality and contacting new ideas, or seeing already known facts in a new light, often in a flash of inspiration" (Ronald Davison, 'The Technique of Prediction').

Her strategy has so far paid off but Sly's problem - and IPC's - is that the whole flow of the market is against her now, and the fall in advertising revenue will start to bite over the next few months. On the face of it, she has a lot to offer the new regime and her multi-media instincts should dovetail with AOL Time Warner's plans. However, a revamped IPC could begin to move in a direction that will not suit her, especially if she has to put up with ill-considered meddling from her US bosses who may be unclear about their whole European strategy. We can expect a burst of creative marketing and forward-looking plans at IPC Media later this summer, and some splits and surprises in the revamp.

The astrology also points to a gloomy patch for the company by June 2002, with a dig-a-hole-and-bury-me Saturn influence becoming marked. IPC may not turn out to be such a good buy, and battening down the hatches won't suit Sly's independent Aquarian streak. There's sure to be more on offer for her than a goodbye note and a golden handshake, but if AOL Time Warner don't give her scope for her free-thinking, innovative style, this high- flying Aquarian could make a dramatic exit.

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