Today's Headlines
Monday, 7/28/14

Comcast's 'Lucy' Overpowers 'Hercules' at Box Office
Associated Press
Luc Besson's "Lucy" proved mind can overpower muscle, topping Brett Ratner's "Hercules" at the box office over the weekend. The Universal Pictures-released movie starring Scarlett Johansson as an accidental psychokinetic took in $44 million in North American movie theaters.

Fox's Bid for Time Warner to Include Board Seat Offer
Wall Street Journal
21st Century Fox is said to be prepared to offer board seats to shareholders of Time Warner as part of its bid to acquire the media company. However, the offer is likely to make no difference in Time Warner's deliberations, given the limited role of Fox's board.

Time Warner Pushes HBO Web Growth Amid Bid Battle
Jeff Bewkes is said to be looking to the Internet to accelerate growth at his prized TV network, HBO, as he seeks to demonstrate to investors that Time Warner is worth more on its own than with Rupert Murdoch. HBO may expand a $49-a-month trial introduced last year with Comcast.

BSkyB Increases Stake in Virtual Reality Tech Firm Jaunt
Hollywood Reporter
BSkyB has increased its investment in Jaunt, a startup whose technology adds virtual reality components to TV programming. The U.K. pay-TV giant said it is investing an additional $400,000 in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company after a December deal to pump $350,000 into it.

Liberty Media to Form New Company with Cable Assets
John Malone's Liberty Media has started the process of spinning off its cable assets through a stock dividend to its shareholders to form a new listed company called Liberty Broadband. The spun-off company will house Liberty's stake in Charter and investment in Time Warner Cable.

Time Warner Cable Office Evacuated in Envelope Scare
The Time Warner Cable office in Palm Springs, Calif., was evacuated after receiving an envelope containing a suspicious powder. The powder turned out to be nothing more than sugar, according to police. Authorities said there was no reason to believe the envelope was sent by accident.

Comcast's Roberts: The Internet's Most Powerful Man
Brian Roberts does not wear a hoodie. In a country that has long celebrated its tech titans as geek celebrities, the Comcast CEO dresses for the boardroom. If you met him on the street, you would never guess that he could soon control the U.S. Internet's most powerful company ...

NBCUniversal Former Exec Predicts Media 'Forest Fire'
Lauren Zalaznick: "The great media companies today are going to remain the great media companies of the future. But they are going to be joined by the emerging great media companies of today. The great middle is what is going to suffer the most. Every so often there is a forest fire ..."

Google Deal Spending Reaches $4.2 Billion in First Half
Google more than tripled spending on acquisitions in the first half of the year to $4.2 billion, as the Internet giant ramps up to expand its services. "These acquisitions generally enhance our expertise in engineering and other functional areas, our technologies and our product offerings."

Apple Near $30 Million Deal to Acquire Radio App Swell
Apple is said to be close to acquiring the Pandora-for-talk-radio app Swell, in a deal worth about $30 million. The acquisition comes as part of a string of content apps that Apple has picked up over the last couple of months, including the book-recommendation service BookLamp.

Amazon Launches Video Shorts to Boost Product Sales
Amazon has expanded into short-form video, launching a destination stocked with 100,000 free clips aimed at driving up e-commerce sales, as well as generating incremental revenue through video ads. Clips in the new Video Shorts section include movie and TV trailers.

Vevo Owners Seek to Sell Control of Music-Video Site
The owners of Vevo, the music-video website, want to find a new investor to take control of the company. But before they can get that, they are trying to figure out how to rework the money-losing business so a new owner has a chance of turning a profit. "The thing is worth less than zero today."

Netflix Bolsters Offerings in Push for Documentaries
New York Times
Netflix has picked up exclusive rights to the documentary "Virunga," as part of a broader push to include more cause-related documentaries in its lineup. The film, about the battle to protect a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will debut on Netflix this year.

YouTube: Cooking-Food Is Fastest-Growing Genre
New York Times
The British website Sorted Food has one of the most popular cooking channels on YouTube, with revenue expected to reach $3.5 million this year. While still not as popular as comedy or gaming, cooking and food is the fastest-growing genre on YouTube, according to owner Google.

Sarah Palin Channel Launches Online at $10 a Month
Sarah Palin has unveiled a new subscription-based Internet network that promises direct access to her and her supporters. The Sarah Palin Channel, which costs $9.95 per month to access, was created with Tapp, the online-video venture formed by Jeff Gaspin and Jon Klein.

ESPN Radio Host Heads to Sirius XM After On-Air Rant
Daily News
Stephen A. Smith is said to be leaving ESPN-98.7 FM to join Sirius XM's "Mad Dog Radio" channel, where he will host his own show. Smith will be joining the uncensored world of satellite radio following his remarks implying that some women should be blamed for domestic violence.

Fox News Anchor Pleads Guilty to Disorderly Conduct
Associated Press
Gregg Jarrett, a Fox News weekend anchor, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after a May arrest at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in which a police video showed he struggled with officers. At the time of his arrest, Fox News said Jarrett was dealing with personal issues.

Al Jazeera America Viewing Surges on Gaza Coverage
Baltimore Sun
The audience for Al Jazeera America has jumped 30% overall the last two weeks during the Gaza conflict, the news channel said. In prime time, it's up 40%, compared to the month before. That's big news for U.S. Al Jazeera, which has struggled in the ratings since its launch a year ago.

Report: Outside Money Drives Deluge of Political Ads
New York Times
An explosion of spending on TV political advertising set to break $2 billion in congressional races, with overall spots up nearly 70% since the 2010 midterm election is said to be accelerating the rise of moneyed interests and wresting control from candidates' efforts to reach voters.

Digital First Media's Salt Lake Tribune Rouses Activists
New York Times
Activists have begun efforts to block changes to an operating agreement between Digital First Media's Salt Lake Tribune and the Mormon Church-owned Deseret News. Gays and other minorities say the Tribune better represents their concerns, and fear the deal could bring its demise.

New York Times Calls for U.S. Legalization of Marijuana
The New York Times has called for the United States government to end its ban on marijuana. In the first of a series of forthcoming articles on the subject, the newspaper's editorial board said that "there are no perfect answers to people's legitimate concerns about marijuana use."

Tribune Publishing: We Plan to Buy More Newspapers
Crain's Chicago
Jack Griffin, CEO of Tribune Publishing, said he wants to acquire more newspapers. "There are more of these opportunities around the country that are geographically adjacent to where we run big papers and big brands, and over time we can achieve similar kinds of consolidation."

Chicago Tribune to Redo Site Ahead of Metered Paywall
Chicago Tribune
The Los Angeles Times introduced a website redesign in May. This Friday, the Chicago Tribune will relaunch its site, with other Tribune Publishing newspapers relaunching their sites by year's end. The new sites, all employing native advertising, will later add metered paywalls.

Wall Street Journal Taps Journo Flint for Media Coverage
Joe Flint said he is returning to the Wall Street Journal to cover the TV industry after a five-year run with the Los Angeles Times. Flint spent seven years covering the media beat for Journal between 1999 and 2006. He joined the Times as an entertainment industry reporter in 2009.

Hearst to Build 'Netflix Model' Around Magazine Video
Hearst recently launched "Cosmo Body," a daily fitness show, which is advertiser-free and offered on a subscription basis. It is the first of what will be a number of Hearst titles and partners who will be part of a new "Netflix model," according to Hearst Digital exec Chris Grasso.

Rodale Plans Company-Wide Push for 'Bulletproof Diet'
Dave Asprey's "The Bulletproof Diet," a lifestyle title due this December from Rodale Books, has evolved into a national franchise from its origins as a blog. Rodale plans to get the entire organization behind the book, including ads in its magazines and articles on company sites.

AMI Ups Men's Fitness Publisher, Expands Into Events
Men's Fitness was reborn a year ago as an upscale men's lifestyle brand under the leadership of former Men's Health editor Dave Zinczenko and VP-publisher Patrick Connors. Now, with growth in advertising revenue and circulation, AMI is elevating Connors to SVP.

Bloomberg Business to Replace
Talking Biz News
Bloomberg's media unit is said to be planning to rename the Bloomberg Businessweek website as just Bloomberg Business. "The launch of the business vertical, Bloomberg Business, which had initially been targeted for September, was pushed back to the end of the year."

BuzzFeed Fires Writer After Plagiarizing Others' Work
Washington Post
BuzzFeed, which has soared in popularity with a mix of throwaway lists and hard-news reporting, has owned up to an ethical breach as old as journalism itself. The website acknowledged that writer Benny Johnson had plagiarized the work of others in some 500 posts and has been fired.

Reddit Seeks to Make Money Without Alienating Users
New York Times
Reddit, where users find, share and talk about web links and photos, has been trying to jump-start its advertising business, as well as bolster some smaller moneymaking efforts. Its challenge is to figure out how to become a real business without changing the essential nature of the service.

Recent Headlines
Media news by sector


News Corp Phone-Hacking Tabloid Journo Spared Jail
BBC News
Ex-News of the World journalist Dan Evans has been given a 10-month jail sentence suspended for a year. He pleaded guilty in September to phone hacking and other charges. Evans was a prosecution witness against former editor Andy Coulson, which reduced his sentence as a result.

McClatchy Sees Bump in Profits from Online Asset Sale
Sacramento Bee
McClatchy has reported a big jump in profits because of the sale of one of its Internet assets. But the Sacramento, Calif., newspaper publisher continues to suffer the effects of an eight-year slump in advertising. Print ads now account for slightly less than 40% of total revenue.

Advance's Star-Ledger Sells Headquarters in Newark
The Star-Ledger has sold its long-time home in Newark, N.J., where the state's largest daily newspaper was headquartered for nearly 50 years. Many of the company's offices in the building were already vacant because of layoffs, attrition and the move of some operations to other locations.

Financial Times: Digital Growth Offsets Print Weakness
Financial Times
Pearson, the U.K. publisher of the Financial Times, has reiterated its profit forecasts for this year. The FT's total circulation is up 13% year-on-year to more than 677,000 across both print and online. "The strong digital circulation growth offset continued weakness in print advertising."

New York Times Data Chief Aims to Influence Newsroom
Fast Company
The New York Times earlier this year hired Chris Wiggins, an associate professor of applied mathematics at Columbia University, as its chief data scientist. "What we're aiming to do is try to inform product decisions and marketing decisions, as well as potentially newsroom decisions."

Bloomberg Hires Vox Media Veteran for Web Ventures
New York Times
Josh Topolsky, co-founder of the tech website The Verge, will join Bloomberg as the editor of a series of new online ventures it is introducing as part of a revamped journalism strategy. Bloomberg media group CEO Justin Smith aims to reposition the firm as a multimedia destination.

Hearst Digital Operates at Feverish Pace Amid Change
Kate Lewis, Hearst Digital editorial director and content operations VP: "There's news we're gathering from everywhere. It's pretty feverish around here. It's not a snoozy place to be. There is a lot of change. There's a certain level of go-getterness. This is not a place to sit quietly."

Conde Nast Expands Wintour's Power with New Post
Anna Wintour has been named editorial director across all Conde Nast titles. In a memo sent to staff by company CEO Charles Townsend, it was announced that Wintour would replace editorial director Thomas Wallace. With the new position, Wintour is poised to extend her reign.


Sinclair Deal for Allbritton TV Stations Wins Approval
USA Today
U.S. regulators have announced their approval of Sinclair's $985 million purchase of Allbritton TV stations. The stations include seven ABC network affiliates that cover nearly 5% of U.S. TV households and NewsChannel 8, a 24-hour cable and satellite news network in the Washington, D.C., area.

Townsquare Media Radio Station Operator Goes Public
Shares of radio station operator Townsquare Media fell some 7% in their market debut, valuing the company at about $172 million. The Greenwich, Conn.-based firm's IPO raised about $91.3 million. Townsquare also operates digital platforms and organizes live events.

Comcast Quietly Steps Up Its Game on Internet Speeds
Wall Street Journal
Comcast has quietly begun extending fiber optic cable all the way to customers' homes in certain parts of its service area, a significant shift that could help it better compete with all-fiber providers like Verizon and Google on Internet speeds. Fiber networks are also easier for upgrades.

CBS Local Media Acquires Digital Media Firm Eventful
CBS Local Media has acquired Eventful, a San Diego-based digital media company that provides platforms for live, digital and broadcast events. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Eventful's 55-person staff is expected to be integrated into the CBS Local Media team.

Clear Channel Parent Posts Loss on Higher Expenses
San Antonio Business
CC Media Holdings, parent of media giant Clear Channel, has reported a quarterly loss, which it chalked up to higher expenses for its radio division and a major debt payment. "Our growing digital and events businesses continued their strong momentum," said CEO Bob Pittman.

CBS to Get $16 Million New York Subsidy for Colbert
CBS is eligible to receive at least $16 million in tax credits and grants from the state of New York for its commitment to keep "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan. CBS may receive as much as $5 million grant to defray costs to renovate the theater.

NBC 'Meet the Press' Set to Replace Moderator Gregory
New York Post
Page Six: "David Gregory's time is nearly up at 'Meet the Press,' and he could be replaced as moderator of the nation's longest-running TV show soon after the November midterm elections. There are serious concerns about the losing battle to turn around the show's sinking ratings."

Turner CEO Plots Turnaround Plan as TNT Shrinks
New York Post
Turner Broadcasting CEO John Martin might want to move up the timeline for his turnaround plan, called "Turner 2020." While new shows have handed its biggest entertainment network, TNT, some early wins this summer, average year-to-date ratings are down sharply in its target demo.


Facebook's Zuckerberg Wealthier Than Google Guys
Mark Zuckerberg is now richer than Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The Facebook chairman added $1.6 billion to his fortune Thursday after the social networking giant closed at a record. "He's just getting started. He's going to become the richest person on the planet."

Apple Analyst Claims iPhone Maker Likely 'Obsolete'
Apple could be "obsolete" in three years, due to increasing competition and "make-believe" valuations, according to Pedro de Noronha, managing partner at Noster Capital. "It's a very competitive landscape. They might become obsolete, as we've seen with dozens of tech companies."

Yahoo Investors Hope Alibaba Will Buy the Company
New York Post
Forget about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her plans to turn around the ailing Internet company. Thanks to an intriguing report making the rounds of Wall Street, investors are hoping that Alibaba or another Asian savior will swoop in with an offer to buy the Sunnyvale, Calif., tech company.

Google Buys Game-Livestreamer Twitch for $1 Billion
Google has signed a deal to acquire Twitch, a San Francisco-based, game-livestreaming company, for $1 billion. Google's YouTube division is reportedly in charge of the acquisition. The deal underscores the value of live streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport.

Netflix in Talks to Stream Iconic TV Sitcom 'Seinfeld'
The Verge
Jerry Seinfeld has confirmed that he is in talks to bring his comedy series "Seinfeld" to Netflix. Speaking in a Q&A session on Reddit, the comedian acknowledged that "conversations are presently taking place," when asked if the show would be brought to the streaming service.

AOL Names Video Sales Head Amid NewFronts Haul
Advertising Age
After a few relatively quiet months following its splashy NewFronts event in April, AOL's video operation is making noise again. The company said that half of its original video slate eight of 16 shows have been sold. AOL also named Marta Martinez as head of global video ad sales.

Amazon's Losses Increase as Ambitious Bets Pile Up
New York Times
Amazon has announced quarterly losses that were nearly double Wall Street's predictions. It also warned that the next quarter would be worse. As the firm keeps selling vast quantities of goods, skepticism is increasing. "It's hard to have $20 billion in revenue and not make money."

Pandora Loss Widens on Higher Costs Despite Growth
Wall Street Journal
Pandora Media said its second-quarter loss has widened as higher costs offset the Internet radio provider's continued revenue growth. Pandora frequently reports quarterly losses as robust listener growth has brought with it higher royalty costs for the songs the music service plays.


Publicis Mulls Digital Acquisitions in 'Difficult' Year
Financial Times
Publicis, the French advertising group, has revised its growth plan with a view to accelerate investment and make new digital media acquisitions, after its $35 billion merger with Omnicom fell apart in May. "People who don't have enough assets in digital will end up hugely disappointed."

EMarketer: Mobile's Ad Share Is Passing Newspapers
Wall Street Journal
American media habits are changing and the advertising dollars are following. Ad spending on smartphones and tablets will this year eclipse radio, magazines and newspapers, according to eMarketer. Spending on mobile is predicted to jump 83% in 2014 to nearly $18 billion.

CBS Outdoor Buys 1,100 Billboards from Van Wagner
CBS Outdoor Americas plans to buy some outdoor advertising businesses from privately held U.S. billboard company Van Wagner for $690 million in cash. The deal includes about 1,100 large-format billboard displays in 11 U.S. markets with total revenue of $206 million in 2013.

Report: Advertisers Moving Money From TV to Digital
Wall Street Journal
Procter & Gamble and General Motors, two of the biggest U.S. advertisers, have scaled back their advertising commitments to TV networks during the annual "upfront" negotiations. While both companies still devote most of their ad dollars to TV, they have begun moving more into digital.

Nielsen, Facebook to Track Shows Watched on Devices
Washington Post
Nielsen has turned to Facebook to find out what you're watching on your mobile device. Starting this fall, Facebook will track the shows its users watch on their phones and tablets and send demo data to the TV ratings company. The arrangement was announced last October.

Report: Political TV Ads Take Targeting to Next Level
Wall Street Journal
Politicians are moving away from blanket TV advertising now that they have sophisticated ways to figure out which kinds of voters or potential voters are watching which kinds of programs and when. "Instead of sending a letter to a post box, we're sending a 30-second spot to a TV set."

Study: Binge TV Viewers Are More Receptive to Ads
Wall Street Journal
Netflix and others are making it easier for consumers to indulge in hours-long sessions of their favorite TV show. Where does that leave advertisers? New research finds that many viewers are willing to tolerate ads while binge-viewing if it lowers their subscription rates.

Report: Digital Ad Fraud Reaching 'Crisis Proportions'
Financial Times
The automation of the advertising industry was supposed to reduce waste. But in a quest for greater efficiency, marketers have exposed themselves to a new challenge: fraud. The fastest-growing part of the sector open exchanges is increasingly being exploited by criminals.

WWP's Sorrell: 10 Trends Shaping Global Ad Business
Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP: "New York is still very much the center of the world, but power is becoming more widely distributed, marching South, East and South East: to Latin America, India, China, Russia, Africa and the Middle East, and Central and Eastern Europe."

EMarketer: Advertisers Scramble to Spend on Mobile
Financial Times
U.S. advertising spending on mobile devices will pass all other digital ads in two years and account for more than a quarter of total marketing budgets by 2018, according to eMarketer. "Consumers are spending more of their digital media time with their smartphones and tablets."

YouTube's AwesomenessTV Steals TV Ad Spending
Advertising Age
At least one YouTube network has stolen advertising money from TV. Royal Caribbean has pulled funds from its TV budget to sponsor two new series from teen-centric YouTube network AwesomenessTV. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV for $33.5 million last May.

Survey: Advertisers Up Spending on Twitter, Facebook
Advertising Age
As marketers plan for the coming year, they appear to be looking more at Twitter, according to a recent survey. Some 63% of respondents said they planned to increase their spending on Twitter over the next year. By comparison, 59% said they expect to spend more on Facebook.


Fox's Europe Deal Means Cash for Time Warner Bid
USA Today
21st Century Fox has entered a deal to sell all of its stake in Sky Italia and a majority stake in Sky Deutschland to BSkyB, raising over $8 billion to fortress its rebuffed Time Warner bid. Rupert Murdoch is expected to offer Time Warner a higher bid, but one that won't warp Fox's credit rating.

Time Warner Mulls IPO of HBO in Defense Against Fox
New York Post
"HBO Go" has taken on new meaning inside Time Warner, as the media giant contemplates a possible defense against 21st Century Fox. The idea being bandied about is an initial public offering of HBO in order to showcase the value embedded in that single Time Warner division.

Comcast Synergy at Work with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
Comcast's Universal Studios has released online a full-length theatrical trailer for "Fifty Shades of Grey." A sanitized-for-network-TV version debuted Thursday morning on NBC's "Today" show, which was followed by an interview with the film's stars and a clip from the forthcoming movie.

Time Warner Cable to Distribute ESPN's SEC Network
Los Angeles Times
ESPN's new SEC Network has scored a touchdown, with Time Warner Cable signing a deal to carry the new network. Set to debut Aug. 14, the SEC Network is a joint venture between ESPN and the Southeastern Conference. The channel will carry 1,000 events in its first year.

Chernin, AT&T to Buy YouTube Network Fullscreen
Fullscreen, the YouTube network, is said to be finalizing a deal to sell a majority stake to Otter Media, the AT&T-Chernin Group joint venture. The deal would value Fullscreen, which says it generates 3.5 billion views a month on YouTube, between $200 million and $300 million.

Comcast in Public Relations Battle Over Net Neutrality
Washington Post
Comcast has two big goals in Washington this year. The first is to get its merger with Time Warner Cable approved by federal regulators. The second is to forestall what it views as potentially onerous new regulations on its broadband business. The two goals are interconnected.

Fox Leaks Details of Bid for Time Warner in Strategy
After various news outlets caught wind that Time Warner was a possible acquisition target, Rupert Murdoch and the team at 21st Century Fox are said to have decided to get the full details out. Murdoch "has a clear understanding of the impact media exposure gives his efforts."

Media's Old Guard in Fight Against Amazon, Google
Even if 21st Century Fox were combined with Time Warner, the merged business would be just more than a third the size of Google in market cap, and only around a quarter the size of Apple. "The Murdochs can legitimately argue that they need to make a land-grab to ensure Fox's survival."

U.S. Regulators Likely to Block One Big Media Deal
Multichannel News
The growing number of media deals could force U.S. regulators to block at least one of them, according to influential analyst Craig Moffett. "Media consolidation is always unpopular and all the more so now when merger mania has seemingly run amok." But which one will get the boot?




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