Click here to receive Mediabistro’s Morning Media Newsfeed via email.
Facebook Bets $2 Billion on Virtual Reality (Financial Times)
Facebook is making a $2 billion bet that virtual reality headsets will be the next big social platform after computers and smartphones, with the sudden acquisition of Oculus VR. The deal marks an unexpected move by the world’s largest social network into the hardware business, at a time when arch-rival Google is investing in robots, its own Google Glass headset and other long-term ventures. Facebook believes that virtual reality’s applications could extend beyond gaming into entertainment and education. AllFacebook The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter, and it is comprised of $400 million in cash, 23.1 million shares of Facebook class-A common stock (worth $1.6 billion based on the average closing price of $69.35 for the 20 trading days leading up to March 21) and $300 million in potential cash and stock based on reaching certain unspecified milestones. Facebook said in its announcement that more than 75,000 orders have been placed for Oculus Rift development kits, adding that it plans to help Oculus expand into verticals including communications and media. Adweek The Irvine, Calif.-based company’s Rift headset covers the eyes of users and plants them in a virtual reality world in which they can play games, watch movies and interact in new ways. GigaOM Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he sees Oculus as an opportunity to move beyond the console and toward ubiquitous computing. He doesn’t expect Facebook to make money off of selling Oculus hardware; instead, it might become a ubiquitous world for communication that might contain advertising. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” Zuckerberg explained. Bloomberg The deal follows a spate of acquisitions that Facebook has used to build up its mobile business. Last month, the company agreed to purchase messaging application WhatsApp for $19 billion. In 2012, Facebook bought mobile photo-sharing program Instagram for about $700 million. Facebook had $11.4 billion in cash and investments at the end of 2013.
Atlantic Media Names Four Co-Presidents (FishbowlNY)
Atlantic Media has named four new co-presidents. James Bennet and Bob Cohn have been named co-presidents of The Atlantic. Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf haven been tapped as co-presidents of Quartz, the business site from Atlantic Media.Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Bennet, who will continue his role as editor-in-chief, will now oversee all editorial and digital properties as well as product and technology. Cohn, who was digital editor, will become chief operating officer as well as co-president, and will preside over all business operations including sales, marketing, AtlanticLIVE and The Wire. Last month,Atlantic president Scott Havens announced he was leaving the company to become senior vice president of digital for Time Inc. Capital New York Atlantic Media has been in the midst of some house cleaning since it lost Justin Smith, its former president, to Bloomberg Media Group last year. Smith had been credited with fostering the 157-year-old brand’s online growth and leading it back to profitability over the past several years. FishbowlDC Earlier this month, Atlantic Media chairman and CEO David Bradley appointed yet another pair of co-presidents during a round of promotions at National Journal Group. NJeditor-in-chief Tim Grieve and publisher Poppy MacDonald added co-president to their existing titles, while Tim Hartman was promoted to CEO.
Check Your Kindle Account for Credit From Apple eBook Settlement (GigaOM)
Book publishers, as part of a price-fixing settlement with state governments, agreed to pay small credits to consumers who bought eligible eBooks between 2010 and 2013. Those credits started showing up in Kindle customers’ accounts Tuesday.GalleyCat The online retailer sent out emails to customers to announce the credits. “The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by state attorneys general and class plaintiffs about the price of eBooks,” explains the email. HuffPost The publishers settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice that accused them of conspiring with Apple to inflate the price of eBooks. According to the lawsuit, back in 2010 the publishers saw working to set eBook prices with Apple, which had just released the first iPad and an accompanying iBooks store, as a chance to fight back against Amazon, which was aggressively cutting prices on its own eBooks to entice people to buy and use Kindles. Mashable People who purchased eBooks between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 are entitled to a credit of $3.17 per New York Times bestseller and $0.73 for other books.
Turner Overhauls Ad Outreach, Names Speciale President, TV And Digital Sales (Variety)
Time Warner’s Turner unit is radically changing the structure of its ad sales staff, resulting in the elevation of one of its top sales executives and the departure of another from the company. TVNewser Longtime CNN sales chief Greg D’Alba is leaving the company just weeks before the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers. Donna Speciale, currently president of Turner Entertainment & Animation Ad Sales, will now take on the CNN sales duties in her new role as president of Turner Broadcasting Ad Sales. Adweek In her expanded role, Speciale will oversee ad sales for all of Turner’s domestic TV and digital entertainment, news, kids and young adult brands, a portfolio that includes TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network and their respective online extensions and platforms. D’Alba had added oversight of digital sales to his manifest in January 2012. Speciale joined Turner in 2012 from MediaVest, where she had served as president, investment and activation and agency operations.
White House ‘Disappointed’ After Jerusalem Post Reporter Denied Saudi Visa (Reuters)
The White House on Tuesday said it was “deeply disappointed” that Saudi Arabia had denied a visa to a U.S. citizen working for Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post to cover President Barack Obama’s trip to the kingdom later this week. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The reporter, Jerusalem Post White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief Michael Wilner, was the only journalist to be denied a visa. Though Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel, where The Jerusalem Post is based, Wilner is an American citizen who has never lived in Israel. WSJ / Washington Wire Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, stressed to their Saudi counterparts the importance that the reporter have access to cover the trip. Rhodes said the Saudi decision didn’t prompt the White House to reconsider Obama’s meeting Friday with King Abdullah at his ranch outside of Riyadh.
Legislation Being Readied to Reduce Number of Foreign Films in Russian Cinemas (The Moscow Times)
Russian lawmakers are putting the final touches to a draft bill that would introduce a 50 percent cap on the number of foreign films shown in Russian cinemas. THR The new law could sharply cut the number of U.S. releases, which would hit revenues of Hollywood studios. U.S. movies account for around 70 percent of Russia’s annual $1.3 billion box office. Russian Duma deputy Robert Shlegel introduced the quota bill. Variety “We basically show American films that promote the stereotypes, national interests and values of the U.S.,” Schlegel told Izvestia on Tuesday. “Many of these are low quality. Russia can produce its own films, which will be interesting to viewers.” Shlegel, who is a former television journalist and a rising star in Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, denied that the bill was a response to U.S. and E.U. sanctions that followed the annexation of Crimea.
Tarantino: Gawker Fabricated ‘News Story’ to Enable Script Theft (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
In January, Quentin Tarantino sued Gawker for allegedly contributing to the dissemination of his unproduced script entitledHateful Eight. Gawker demanded the lawsuit be dismissed in March, asserting that Tarantino himself “set in motion the circumstances by which the script circulated,” that its post about the leaking was a fair news report and that there could be no contributory infringement without direct infringement. Tarantino’s lawyers now say that Gawker “contrived the very ‘news story’ that it now seeks to hide behind.” Variety A filing Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles stated, “Gawker solicited and obtained a theretofore publicly unknown link to an anonymous download site that was storing and distributing to users infringing PDF copies of the complete copyrighted screenplay. Gawker then fabricated another, new ‘story’ that the script had been made publicly available online solely so that Gawker could then trumpet to the world without impunity exactly where on the Internet the infringement was taking place.” The filing noted that Gawker could have merely included the fact that the script was leaked and available on a file upload site without including any specific links.
NYT Raises Intern Pay to Minimum Wage (Gothamist)
A few weeks back, the New York Times‘ Editorial Board penned a piece commending NYU and Columbia for their recent moves to block unpaid internships, veiled by the draw of “academic credit.” Except the Times itself was still offering unpaid, academic internships to young journalists. That changed Tuesday: Academic interns at the Times will now receive $8 an hour for their time and be given back wages for the unpaid time spent there already this semester.
USC Is Offering A Google Glass Course for Journalism (Mashable)
A new course slated for the fall semester at the University of Southern California entitled “Glass Journalism” will task students with thinking up new ways for journalists to tell stories using augmented reality and Google Glass. It’s a first-of-its-kind class for USC, and Web journalism professor Robert Hernandez believes the class offers a rare opportunity for journalism to get ahead of a budding technology trend. AppNewser The small course will be open to all USC students, and Hernandez expects about a dozen students from various backgrounds. On top of reconceptualizing journalism in the wake of new media and wearable tech, students are also expected to make apps for the device.
Katie Nelson Thomson Joins Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (THR)
Katie Nelson Thomson has been named senior talent producer of HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. The half-hour topical comedy series debuts Sunday, April 27, at 11 p.m. ET. Thomson was most recently senior broadcast producer on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. Prior to that, she spent most of her career at ABC News working with Barbara Walters, producing segments and pieces for 20/20 and The Barbara Walters Specials.
Spotify Gives A Half-Price Premium College Student Discount in U.S. (GigaOM)
College students who subscribe to Spotify just got more money to spend on pizza: The streaming music service announced a half-price discount on Tuesday. Instead of the standard $9.99 a month subscription fee, U.S. collegians can take advantage of a new $4.99 plan available on Spotify’s website. The monthly fee offers the same premium features as the full-priced plan, including ad-free playback of more than 20 million songs, downloadable playlists for offline listening, improved sound quality and Spotify access on various devices and home entertainment systems.
CNN Producers Busted Trying to Get Into WTC Site (NY Post)
Two CNN producers were arrested Tuesday for trying to sneak into the World Trade Center site to test its security. Connor Boals, 26, and Yon Pomrenze, 35, made multiple attempts to get onto Ground Zero before being arrested shortly after 2 p.m., law enforcement sources said. TVNewser Port Authority police say Pomrenze and Boals first attempted to pass through a main gate. Officers then saw Boals twice try to climb a fence on the northern edge of the site, near the PATH train station. The men, police say, then tried to push their way through a gate at which point they were arrested. Police confiscated a GoPro camera and a video camera on a tripod and arrested the men for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.
New Technology, New Money, New Newsrooms, Old Questions: The State of The News Media in 2014 (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Inside the media universe, 2013 seemed to be a year of momentum. New money was being injected into the news business from all sides, from dot-com billionaires to baseball owners to venture capitalists making bets at the intersection of technology and content. At the same time, users were finding news and video through new platforms, whether through an explosion in social media or via the personal window of mobile. In Pew Research Center’s latest State of The News Media report, you get a glimpse of how the worlds of journalism and technology are continuing to merge and the impact that convergence has on the business and editorial prospects of media companies. Pew Research Center The State of The News Media 2014 is the 11th edition of an annual report by the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project examining the landscape of American journalism. This year’s study includes special reports about the revenue picture for news, the growth in digital reporting, the role of acquisitions and content sharing in local news and developments around digital video.
HBO to Launch Documentary Channel in China (THR)
Time Warner’s HBO will launch a documentary channel in China and Southeast Asia to show documentaries made by China Central Television (CCTV) and others around the world. Negotiations between The China Radio, Film & Television Programs Exchanging Center and HBO about the rights of the documentary programs have been going on for a year. HBO has been available in China since 1994, and although it is restricted, like CNN and BBC, to hotels and diplomatic compounds, it has a loyal following.
CBS Marketing Ups Mitch Cardwell to VP, Digital Content And Design (Variety)
CBS Marketing has promoted Mitch Cardwell to VP of digital content and design. In his new upped position, Cardwell will continue to create CBS Marketing materials and re-purpose on-air promotional content for CBS’ digital platforms. Prior to joining the Eye, Cardwell was a designer for ABC Family and also design firm Pittard Sullivan in Los Angeles.