John Fahey answers (some) questions re: Cengage

Dear John (Chairman & CEO of NGS),

Thanks very much for answering a few questions from the staff re: the sale of NG School Publishing to Cengage Learning. (See Q&A below, from the NGS intranet.)

If you have a minute, we’d love to ask a few more questions:

John Fahey

• Do you plan to sell off other parts of the National Geographic Society? If so, which ones — and when? If not, why not?

• If our ownership stake in the National Geographic Channel is only around 30 percent, then how do you realistically maintain editorial control of what’s on “our” Channel? After all, it isn’t ours, and never has been.  … Put another way: Do you ever tell News Corp, the Channel’s majority owner, to stop broadcasting shows that debase our Brand? If so, why should they listen?

Why did Michael Rosenfeld, the longtime president of National Geographic Television, and Steve Burns, a veteran producer, recently leave National Geographic?

• Would you be willing to sit down with us for a 90-minute interview?

Thanks for considering this.

All the best,
Your friends @ Society Matters


≡  Comments re: John Fahey’s post on the sale of NG School Publishing to Cengage Learning (via the NGS intranet):

… I’m open now for any questions!


  1.  [KG]
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    Hi John,
    As you can imagine, many staffers are wondering how this change will affect the jobs of our friends and co-workers in School Pubs. Will they become Cengage employees now?

  2.  seth
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    What percent will NGS own?

  3.  jfahey
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    Those details haven’t been worked out yet although the current NGSP staff will become employees of Cengage Learning.

    I should have mentioned that the transaction will settle around July 31. We need to wait for approval from the US Justice Department which we believe will be forthcoming.

    The vast majority of employees will continue doing the work that they’re currently engaged in.


  4.  jfahey
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 8:20 AM

    Hi Seth,

    We’re retaining a 10% equity interest in the business.
    To give some context, this compares with 30% for the NG Channel in the US and just under 30% for NG Channel International. We have no ownership interest in all of our international magazine partnerships except for Japan which operates as a 50/50 joint venture. Interestingly, our level of engagement in the Japanese issue of the magazine is no different than all the others despite our ownership position.


  5.  [MG]
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Hi John, I’ll be interested in hearing how this partnership develops. As one who hasn’t worked in NGSP, I would also love to see some of the books they have and will be creating. Maybe they can have a “show and tell” some day.


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