The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

Hef should have his way with Playboy shareholders

No executive satisfies his desires to a greater degree than Hugh Hefner. For half a century the 84-year-old founder of Playboy magazine has cultivated the image of a man who lives life to its libidinous fullness. So it's reasonable to expect that Hef, now in his twilight, will succeed in having his way with yet one more constituency -- his shareholders.

Hefner is offering to buy the 66 percent of the nudie-magazine empire not in his clutches, thereby closing his smoking jacket on public markets and taking the company private. At a 40 percent premium, Hef's entreaty of $5.50 a share doesn't look terribly bare, particularly considering Playboy's $51 million of losses in its last fiscal year.

But the price is closer to Playboy's initial offering price in 1971 than its all-time high of $32 reached 11 years ago. That performance reflects the steady decline of Playboy's brand of adult entertainment, or looked at another way, its failure to keep up with sliding standards in decency. Given the efflorescence of seemingly limitless, and free, Internet pornography, Playboy's relatively tame offering looks downright quaint.

That is presumably why Playboy's arch-rival in the upper shelf of the magazine racks, Penthouse, is staking out a possible counter-offer. Its parent, FriendFinder Networks, is an adept operative in the online porn and social networking business -- if not enticing enough to have fulfilled plans last year for an IPO.

Big Brother: killed by Topless Models

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- John Bowker is Reuters’ UK transport and defence correspondent. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Big Brother’s demise can be blamed on naked women.

You can see why the show’s creators thought it would be a good idea. A well selected crop of wannabe reality TV stars clearly must include a couple of attractive men and women. The fondly remembered first series back in 2000 was won by Craig, a regularly topless muscle-bound DIY hunk, while Tom and Mel were also easy on the eye.

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