Martha Stewart Quits Living Omnimedia Board

17 March 2004

Fallen US homemaking guru Martha Stewart is scaling back her involvement in her media and merchandising vehicle.

Stewart -- currently awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of making false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice -- is stepping down from the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She is also relinquishing her role as chief creative officer, replacing it with the title of founding editorial director.

The change gives Stewart -- who stood down as chairman/ceo after her indictment in June 2003 -- a continued presence at the company, but reduces her day-to-day authority. She will report to current ceo Sharon Patrick.

As the media maven's fortunes have waned, so have those of the company set up to exploit her hitherto spotless image. MSLO revenues slipped 9% in the fourth quarter last year, and several TV stations dropped Stewart's show after she was found guilty. The change in her role is considered the first step in working out the company's future in light of Stewart's changed circumstances.

But despite the reshuffle, the domestic diva will continue to draw a salary of $0.9 million (€0.7m; £0.5m), with an annual bonus of at least $0.3m, until October, though MSLO admitted this may be reviewed if the domestic diva is jailed when sentenced in June.

The state of Stewart's employment may be complicated further by a civil case filed against her by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The financial regulator is expected to try to bar her from serving as an officer or director of a public company, though it is unlikely to prevent her from taking a creative role.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff