Morning Media Newsfeed: Retrial Set for AJ Journalists | Message Threatens U.S. Media

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Egypt Court Orders Retrial in Al Jazeera Case (HuffPost / AP)
An Egyptian appeals court on Thursday ordered the retrial of three Al Jazeera English journalists held for more than a year on terror-related charges, a ruling that their lawyers hoped was a step toward resolving a case that brought a storm of international criticism on Egypt’s government. BBC News The decision was made after the hearing in Cairo of an appeal by the three — Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed — against their conviction. Prosecutors acknowledged major problems with the verdict, defense lawyers said. A new trial will occur within a month but the trio must stay in custody. NYT The journalists were convicted in June on charges that included conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports. All three were sentenced to seven-year prison terms, but Baher Mohamed received three additional years for possessing a spent bullet casing that he had recovered from a street protest. Rights advocates described the case, from arrests to convictions, as a travesty and said prosecutors failed to present any evidence that the men had falsified news in their coverage of protests against the government after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi was forced from office. WSJ The Obama administration lauded the apparent progress in the case while also expressing its concern at the continued detentions. Al Jazeera has vigorously denied charges of bias and that the journalists broke any laws.

Sony Hackers Reportedly Threaten U.S. News Media Organization (The Intercept)
The Intercept reported Wednesday that the hackers who infiltrated Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer servers have threatened to attack an American news media organization, citing an FBI bulletin. TVNewser The so-called Guardians of Peace allegedly threatened a specific-but-unnamed news organization but “may extend to other such organizations in the near future,” according to the Joint Intelligence Bulletin. THR The Guardians of Peace was linked by the FBI on Dec. 19 to the North Korean government. The FBI bulletin notes that the hacking group “taunted” the agency and the unnamed media organization in Dec. 20 messages posted on Pastebin “and implied an additional threat.” THR After several media outlets reported on the threat, a Tennessee man said the message threatening CNN that purported to be from the group that hacked Sony Pictures was a prank. David Garrett Jr., who has written articles about Homeland security for Examiner, took credit for the message. Mediaite The Desk’s Matthew Keys linked the FBI bulletin cited by the Intercept to the anonymous Pastebin post that threatened CNN and claimed to be from the Guardians of Peace.

ABC’s Rockin’ Eve Inches Up in Ratings, NBC And Fox Late-Night Specials on Par (Deadline)
Powered by an appearance by reigning pop princess Taylor Swift, ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2014 on ABC drew a 10.7 household rating in the metered markets from 11:30 p.m. — 1:15 a.m., up 6 percent from last year. Among adults 18-49, the special, which also featured appearances by One Direction and Elton John, posted a 7.3 rating in the markets with Local People Meters, up 3 percent. TVNewser On previous New Year’s Eves, she’s hurled expletives, heckled onlookers and taken off her top. A half hour before 2015, CNN New Year’s Eve co-host Kathy Griffin dyed Anderson Cooper‘s hair a patriotic red and blue. Mediaite Cooper also let loose a series of mocking statements about former CNNer Piers Morgan during Wednesday night’s New Year’s Eve coverage. “Piers who?” Cooper asked at first, before agreeing with Griffin that Morgan is “dying for a Twitter war.” “Listen, I hope he gets a job some day,” he added.

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Sony Expands The Interview Release to Video-on-Demand Services (Mashable)
Sony Pictures is offering more ways for viewers to stream the The Interview, following its lucrative online rollout of the embattled film. The studio announced on Wednesday that it has reached deals with companies, including Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon, to make The Interview available to rent through various video-on-demand services starting Wednesday. Re/code The studio initially canceled its Christmas Day release of the R-rated comedy after hackers threatened violence at theaters. It subsequently distributed the movie at 300 independent theaters as well as through online services such as Google Play. Deadline The film pulled in $3.3 million as of Dec. 30, since opening in a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day. As of Saturday, The Interview had pulled in more than $15 million in online revenues, according to Sony. On Friday, the number of U.S. independent theaters showing the film will increase to more than 580. THR North Korea may have already tightened its border controls as part of attempts to keep The Interview out, but the country has now stopped showing all foreign films, including those from traditional allies. Following direct orders from Kim Jong Un, Chinese and Russian movies have been pulled from North Korea’s state television, according to Radio Free Asia.

Michael Bloomberg Implements Changes at Namesake Media Company (WWD / Memo Pad)
In another sign that he’s firmly retaken the helm of his namesake media company, Michael Bloomberg this week quietly reinstated the practice of tracking employees’ whereabouts. The system allows everyone in the company to see when their coworkers arrived at work, giving the exact time they swiped their card upon entry. The arrival times are included in intercompany emails, according to an insider at Bloomberg, who called the practice a source of paranoia. FishbowlNY The monitoring program had been canceled under former CEO Dan Doctoroff, but he got the boot when Bloomberg came back.

Mario Cuomo, Former New York Governor And Father of CNN Anchor, Dies (TVNewser)
Hours after attending the second inauguration for his brother, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo lost his father, former New York governor Mario Cuomo. Mario Cuomo, 82, died at home Thursday evening of natural causes brought on by heart failure. NYT Mario Cuomo led New York during a turbulent time — 1983 through 1994. His ambitions for an activist government were thwarted by recession. He found himself struggling with the State Legislature not over what the government should do but over what programs should be cut, and what taxes should be raised, simply to balance the budget.

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Bloomberg’s Mike Riley Is 2014 Business Journalist of The Year (TBN)
The biggest business story of the past year has been how hackers have wrought havoc on some of the world’s biggest companies, from Target’s credit card breach at the beginning of the year to the Sony hack at the end of the year. Some of these actions were orchestrated by lone criminals; some by governments. All of them share one thing in common: The details are never revealed. That changed in 2014 when Bloomberg News reporter Mike Riley published a number of deeply reported stories about digital attacks. FishbowlNY For that reason, Riley, a Bloomberg News reporter, has been named Talking Biz News’ Business Journalist of The Year. Riley has been with Bloomberg since 2010. Prior to that he worked for eight years at The Denver Post.

Arnon Milchan’s Israeli Network Saved by Last-Minute Government Reprieve (Variety)
In an eleventh-hour resolution, Israel’s Channel 10 was saved from looming closure in a move by attorney general Yehuda Weinstein, who granted the troubled station a six-month grace period to pay off its looming debts. The station, one of only two private television networks in Israel, was due to go dark after failing to come up with the coin to extend its operating license past 2014.

Moody’s Upgrades Univision Credit Rating, Easing Path to IPO (LA Times)
Univision Communications is preparing for a public offering of its shares, which would enable owners of the Spanish-language media giant to begin their long-planned exit. This week, Moody’s Investors Service issued an upgrade in the rating outlook for Univision — helping clear the way for a public offering that is expected to occur later this year, according to people close to the company who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters. TVNewser According to the Times, Univision, which owns the fifth-largest TV network in the U.S., “has long been considered a jewel on Wall Street because of the growing influence of Latinos in the U.S.”

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A Time Inc. Merger or Purchase Will Not Risk Tax-Free Stock Swap (New York Post / Media Ink)
Time Inc. can merge or be bought as soon as this month without jeopardizing the tax-free stock swap that created the standalone publisher six months ago. Company brass had hinted that the magazine publisher would have to remain independent for two years or risk losing its IRS tax-free, spin-off status. FishbowlNY Tax expert Robert Willens said the waiting period is about six months, which means Time Inc. is ripe for the picking. That might be music to the ears of Meredith execs; specifically its CEO Steve Lacy. Lacy and Meredith had tried and failed to merge with Time Inc. in 2013. Still, Lacy has said that he remains interested in a deal. Willens’ tax talk might be enough to push things ahead one more time.

Moviegoing Hit Two-Decade Low in 2014 (THR)
The number of people going to the movies in 2014 in North America slipped to its lowest level in two decades. According to preliminary estimates, roughly 1.26 billion consumers purchased cinema tickets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31. That’s the lowest number since 1.21 billion in 1995 and not that far ahead of 1994 (1.24 billion). The last time admissions fell below the 1.3 billion mark was in 2011, when only 1.28 billion people when to the movies. Variety Americans aged 12 to 24 saw 15 percent fewer films in theaters during the first three quarters of the year, according to Nielsen. And in 2013, according to a Motion Picture Association of America report, the number of frequent moviegoers between the ages of 18 to 24 fell by a record 17 percent.

During Dispute, Dish Network Replaces Fox News With Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze (TVNewser)
As the dispute between Fox and Dish Network drags on, the satellite provider has filled the Fox-hole in its lineup with Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze. “I have no idea how long TheBlaze will be on in place of Fox News,” Beck wrote on Facebook. “But for those of you looking for a channel that shares your values and principles, I hope you will give TheBlaze a chance.”

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Marissa Mayer Has Surprising Interest in Buying A Cable Channel, Yahoo! Sources Say (Business Insider)
Here is a perhaps crazy idea that sources say Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and her top executives have considered for saving the company: buying cable networks.

NBCUniversal And Cable One Reach Carriage Deal, Blackout Averted (THR)
NBCUniversal and Cable One agreed on a carriage deal late Wednesday night, averting a New Year’s Day blackout of NBCU networks, including USA, Syfy and CNBC, among others. NBCUniversal issued a statement on the deal shortly before 10 p.m. ET.

Authorities Pull Plug on Russia’s Last Politically Independent TV Station (THR)
Russia’s last politically independent television station, TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, fell silent at the stroke of midnight Wednesday as the country rang in the New Year with a televised address by president Vladimir Putin after a state transmission service forced it off air. The station ran images of empty studios and newsrooms on its website after the plug was pulled in what the state transmission service RTRS (Russian Radio and Television Broadcasting Network) says is a contractual dispute, but station bosses claim is politically motivated.

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