Morning Media Newsfeed: Digital First Mulls Sale | DirecTV to Launch Online Services

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Digital First Media, Second Biggest U.S. Newspaper Publisher, to Consider Sale (HuffPost / AP)
Newspaper company Digital First Media said Friday that it is exploring strategic options, which could include a sale of the company or parts of it. New York Post Chief executive John Paton said the publisher of the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Daily News, The New Haven Register and 73 other daily and Sunday papers is profitable and generates $1.2 billion of revenue. NYT Digital First has long suffered from the headwinds facing newspapers. One former division, The Journal Register Company, which includes papers like The New Haven Register and The Trentonian, filed for bankruptcy twice in the last five years. In April, the company announced that it was shutting down Project Thunderdome, a centralized newsroom that aimed to provide articles from around the nation and the world to the company’s 75 newsrooms. That closing resulted in layoffs for more than 50 people in the Project Thunderdome newsroom. Denver Post Digital First Media was formed in December 2013 with the merger of Denver-based MediaNews Group and the former Journal Register Co. It is the nation’s second-largest newspaper company, based on circulation, operating in 15 states, with 800 multi-platform news and information products, including 76 daily and Sunday newspapers and 160 weeklies. The company said it serves 75 million customers monthly. Poynter / MediaWire Ken Doctor reported in April that Digital First planned to sell its newspapers at the same time it shuttered Project Thunderdome. The company won’t set a deadline for the sale or report any developments “until the Board has determined whether it will proceed with one or several transaction(s), or otherwise concludes its review,” a news release said.

DirecTV to Launch Web-Based Video Service for Hispanics This Year (THR)
Mike White, the CEO of pay-TV giant DirecTV, said Friday that the firm would launch an online video service targeting Hispanics and was “highly confident” to have a finalized NFL Sunday Ticket renewal deal by year-end. GigaOM The service, which is going to be called YaVeo, is DirecTV’s attempt to cater to an audience that is more likely to cut the cord and get all of its programming online. However, the company wants to avoid compiling a full-blown programming bundle that would rival a traditional cable service, complete with the hefty monthly bill. Variety The Hispanic package, targeted to younger consumers, will be the first niche-focused Internet video service from DirecTV, according to White. Pricing and other details of the service have yet to be revealed. Instead of trying to introduce a broadband-delivered replacement for traditional pay-TV services, DirecTV is looking at niche-content areas “more in the mode of a Netflix,” according to White. Deadline Hollywood He’s also exploring opportunities to offer NFL Sunday Ticket to college campuses and apartments — places that typically can’t accommodate satellite dishes. “Digital rights is an important part of our discussions with the NFL” as DirecTV negotiates a renewal of its Sunday Ticket deal.

The Weather Channel May Be Sold (TVNewser)
Two of the Weather Channel’s three owners may be looking to sell. Blackstone Group and Bain Capital acquired the company, along with NBCUniversal, in 2008. Bloomberg Weather Channel hasn’t begun a formal process or hired a bank, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. The private-equity firms are interested in exploring the idea of selling all or part of the company, according to two people familiar with the matter. They also may decide to hold their ownership stakes rather than sell, the people said. Weather Channel Cos. includes the Weather Channel TV network, digital properties including Weather.com, Weather Underground and Intellicast.com, and Weather Services International, or WSI, a weather forecasting service. THR A spokesperson for TWC said they are not aware of any negotiations that could lead to a sale. The channel was last sold in 2008 for about $3.5 billion and is believed to still be worth about the same amount. In 2013, TWC averaged about 213,000 viewers a day, which is down slightly from more than 260,000 in 2011. It sells ads not just on the size of the audience but also the quality. The channel regularly sees a spike in viewership when bad weather hits.

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Chuck Todd Announces Luke Russert as Meet The Press Regular Contributor (FishbowlDC)
NBC Meet The Press moderator Chuck Todd emailed colleagues Friday afternoon to confirm that Luke Russert will join the program — that his late father Tim Russert hosted for 17 years — as a regular contributor. TVNewser “Luke has an impressive love for politics and has proven himself on the Capitol Hill beat,” Todd wrote. Russert will contribute both on-air and on the MTP digital platform. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media A report that Russert was being paid $500,000 for his new role was quickly swatted down by NBC spokespeople. Russert joins MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, the Washington Post‘s Nia-Malika Henderson and BuzzFeed’s John Stanton as recently minted contributors to the Sunday show.

Jenna Wolfe Gets New Today Show Role (TVNewser)
Jenna Wolfe, previously news anchor for Weekend Today, was named lifestyle and fitness correspondent for NBC’s Today show. In addition to covering topics like health and wellness for Today, Wolfe has also been named NBC News national correspondent reporting for all shows and platforms, including NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams. THR She will begin her new role on the weekday edition of Today on Sept. 19. Wolfe appeared on Friday’s Today, where her new role was announced, saying that she was looking forward to her new schedule. Deadline Hollywood Wolfe will begin her newly-created role with a segment on the new “yoga pose” craze where she will interview (and pose) with Hilaria Baldwin. Then, on Sept. 29, she will launch her Pick-A-Part series, where she will give viewers easy tips on how to tone and define specific body parts. She will continue her national and feature reporting each week across NBC News.

What Are Journalists in The U.K. Most Addicted To? (TVNewser)
If you thought journalists in America drink too much coffee, apparently our colleagues across the Atlantic Ocean are even more caffeinated. In a survey done by the U.K. press release firm Pressat, which spoke to 10,000 professionals, journalists are wired the most of all professions. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media “It seems that drinking coffee is a necessity on the job in a wide variety of professions,” the survey reads. “The highest consumers, sinking more than four cups daily, were those with stressful careers: journalists consumed the most, followed closely by police officers and teachers.” The Guardian / Greenslade Blog Evidently, 85 percent of the respondents said they drink at least three cups of coffee a day while some 70 percent admitted that their working ability would be affected without a daily dose of coffee.

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Yahoo! Adds Kristen Baldwin, Kerry Diamond (FishbowlNY)
Yahoo! has made two major hires — Kristen Baldwin and Kerry Diamond. Baldwin will serve as editor-in-chief of Yahoo! TV and Diamond will serve as editor-in-chief of Yahoo! Food. THR Baldwin, who spent 19 years at Entertainment Weekly, will start Sept. 29 and will be based in New York. She will work closely with Vulture veteran Josh Wolk, who became editor-in-chief of Yahoo! Entertainment in March. Diamond, the co-founder of indie magazine Cherry Bombe, will lead Yahoo! Food in New York starting Sept. 22.

CBS And NFL Thursday Night Football Partnership Gets Strong Start (THR / The Live Feed)
CBS and the NFL’s $275 million deal to air eight Thursday Night Football games on both CBS and cable’s NFL Network roared to a very auspicious start. Though some of the interest in the game, between the Steelers and the Ravens — which fired Ray Rice in a heated domestic abuse scandal — may have been related to Rice, it was still a huge boon to the NFL’s younger Thursday offerings. On CBS alone, the game brought in 17.4 million viewers and an average 5.9 rating among adults 18-49. Variety The game is being sold to advertisers as a single rating; but according to ratings breakouts for cable, NFL Net drew 3.43 million. The audience is 89 percent larger than the 11 million who watched last year’s first Thursday Night Football game, which aired only on NFL Network. In adults 18-49, the game did a 7.5 combined rating, including a 1.6 on NFL Network.

Broadcasters Warn Bill Would ‘Undermine’ TV (The Hill)
Representatives from the hundreds of local TV stations affiliated with NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox are warning the Senate Commerce Committee not to move forward with a bill that would change some features of the television market. TVSpy They warned that despite the loss of “Local Choice” from the bill, STAVRA still has elements that “would undermine free access… to high quality national network and local broadcast television programming.”

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B&N’s Nook Partners With ESI Media on U.K. Literacy Push (GalleyCat)
Barnes & Noble’s Nook Media has forged a partnership with ESI Media, the commercial department of The London Evening Standard and The Independent, for an initiative that promotes reading in London schools with low literacy rates.

BBC News Averts Strike (THR)
BBC News has averted a strike of its staff that could have affected coverage of a referendum on Scottish independence Thursday. A union representative lauded BBC director general Tony Hall for his role in reaching an agreement. The BBC put a moratorium, until at least the end of March 2015, on planned compulsory job cuts. It previously said it was looking to reduce its news staff by more than 400, for net job losses of 220. The BBC said though it was open to staff requests for voluntary redundancies. It wasn’t immediately clear what terms those would come with.

AT&T Eyes Late 2015 to Launch DirecTV, High-Speed Wireless Broadband Bundle (Variety)
AT&T plans to bundle pay-TV service from DirecTV with wireless broadband — delivering speeds of up to 15 megabits per second or more over dedicated spectrum — in rural areas, with the telco looking at launching the combo service in late 2015, said Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of the telco’s mobility division. Timing of the launch will depend on when the DirecTV deal closes, de la Vega added. AT&T’s proposed $67 billion takeover of DirecTV is pending review by the FCC and other regulators.

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WaPo’s Nia-Malika Henderson Joins The Fix (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson is joining The Fix political team, Post editors announced on Friday. Henderson, who is currently a political reporter at the Post, will report on the “intersection of politics with culture, demography and emerging sources of power,” and will “continue to assess political developments through the prism of gender,” according to a memo sent to staff. Henderson joined the Post in 2010 covering the Republican primary, and was previously a White House reporter for Politico and a 2008 election reporter for Newsday.

U.K. TV Ratings Firm to Track Tablet Viewership (THR)
The U.K. TV audience body has announced that it will begin measuring viewing on tablets. BARB — the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board — revealed it now had the ability to electronically monitor viewing habits on iPads and Android devices, having made the first “capture” of data last month. It said that the new statistics would be published as they become available over the coming months.

China Shuts Down Major Newspaper’s Website During Extortion Scandal (HuffPost / Reuters)
China has shut a respected business newspaper’s website and opened an investigation, state media said on Friday, after executives confessed they extorted “huge payments” from companies in exchange for quashing critical stories. The official Xinhua news agency reported last month that eight suspects, some working at the 21st Century Business Herald and others at public relations firms, were under investigation.

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