Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony to Release The Interview | Disney, DirecTV Strike Deal

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Sony Backtracks, Will Release The Interview After All (PRNewser)
We all got our wish: The Interview will be available in limited release on Christmas Day. NYT The development gave new life to a film that Sony had pulled from distribution last week, after hackers threatened violence against any theater that played it. Sony also left open the door to video-on-demand availability of the movie, either simultaneously with its debut in theaters, or nearly so. THR Theaters showing The Interview are expected to put added security measures in place. Sony, though, isn’t planning to assist the theaters with added security, leaving it up to theater owners to foot the bill, per normal practice, insiders say. Variety The White House has issued a strong statement of support for Sony Pictures’ decision to release the film on Christmas Day. GalleyCat The PEN American Center sent a letter addressed to the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, to protest against Sony’s censorship of the film last week. The organization has posted the full piece on its website. FishbowlDC A petition titled ”We the undersigned support Sony” also emerged in which backers claimed to ”support theatrical engagements of The Interview should Sony, at its sole discretion, decide to release it to theaters.”

Disney Strikes Multi-Year Deal With DirecTV (THR)
Almost three weeks after a previous deal expired, DirecTV has struck a multi-year arrangement with the Walt Disney Co. that includes traditional television as well as computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and other connected devices, the companies said Tuesday. WSJ In a statement, DirecTV chief content officer Dan York said the agreement will provide “a wide range of in-home and out-of-home viewing options to enjoy the broad collection of ESPN, Disney and ABC content.” DirecTV customers will get access to services like WatchESPN and Watch ABC on Internet-enabled devices in early 2015. Variety In addition, the companies said they will explore new opportunities “with respect to potential over-the-top offerings.” Earlier this year, Disney cut a landmark deal with Dish Network that included OTT rights to five of the media conglomerate’s networks. To date, DirecTV has not signaled any intention to launch a similar service. Deadline The companies also renewed carriage agreement for ABC’s eight owned local stations, including WABC-TV in New York City, KABC-TV in Los Angeles, WLS-TV in Chicago, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia, KGO-TV in San Francisco, WTVD-TV in Raleigh-Durham, KTRK-TV in Houston and KFSN in Fresno.

International Journalists Killed at High Rate in 2014, Middle East Deadliest Region (CPJ)
An unusually high proportion of journalists killed in relation to their work in 2014 were international journalists, as correspondents crossed borders to cover conflict and dangerous situations in the Middle East, Ukraine and Afghanistan, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its annual analysis. FishbowlNY According to CPJ’s report, 60 journalists were killed in 2014. That’s less than last year, when 70 reporters lost their lives while on the job, but CPJ is still investigating an additional 18 deaths, so that number may increase. HuffPost The latest death was Afghan cameraman Zubair Hatami, who died Saturday from injuries he sustained in a Taliban attack. Reporters Without Borders recently cited 66 journalist killings in its 2014 survey. The difference likely results from each organization’s methodology and the ongoing investigation of some cases. Syria, mired in civil war since 2011, ranked as the most dangerous country for journalists for the third year in a row. Seventeen journalists were killed in the war-torn country this year, bringing the total to 79 in the conflict.

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WBFF Apologizes for ‘Kill A Cop’ Story (TVSpy)
Facing massive fallout from a story aired Sunday night that claimed peaceful protesters had called for the killing of police officers, Baltimore Fox affiliate WBFF invited a protest leader on air to apologize face-to-face. “We aired a clip from a protest in Washington, D.C., where we reported protesters were chanting ‘kill a cop,’” said anchor Jeff Barnd. “We received a phone call from Tawanda Jones, who is in the video, who informed us that the chant was actually ‘We won’t stop. We can’t stop. ’till killer cops. Are in cell blocks.’” Variety WBFF reps have not elaborated on how the edit made it on to the air. The Justice for All march came in response to the recent string of deaths of black men in altercations with police officers. The Rev. Al Sharpton was among the speakers. TVNewser Sharpton has been criticized by numerous media outlets, including the New York Post, for turning the execution of two NYPD officers into a story about… well, Al Sharpton. The polarizing MSNBC host held up a cell phone during a press conference with the family of Eric Garner and played a threatening voicemail he received following the tragic executions of the NYPD officers. Sharpton denounced the killings in the same news conference.

Evening News Ratings: Week of Dec. 15 (TVNewser)
NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams won another week in both total viewers and the demo, delivering its biggest total viewer win over ABC’s World News Tonight With David Muir in four months. Deadline Williams’ newscast is posting its best start to a season in nine years, widening its lead by 24 percent week-to-week. Though World News Tonight had last week featured Muir’s exclusive with President Obama on the U.S.’ historic move with Cuba, and exclusive video of Ray Rice and now-wife Janay after he clocked her in that casino elevator, Williams snagged an average 9.360 million total viewers for the week to beat ABC’s newscast by 10 percent (840,000), also besting CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley, by 28 percent (2.027 million).

BBC Correspondent Gets Unintentionally High While Reporting on Afghan Drug Bust (HuffPost)
Covering Afghanistan is often serious business. So why then is BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville giggling uncontrollably while reporting from the region? Well, it would seem that the fumes from the massive pile of drugs smoldering behind Sommerville during his report might have gotten the journalist just a tiny bit high. The Telegraph Sommerville posted the footage online to his 24,000 Twitter follows with the message: “Dear tweeps, it’s been a year of bullets & bloodshed. You’ve earned a xmas laugh, at my expense.” He later deleted the footage, apparently due to copyright issues, before copies of it emerged elsewhere online.

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Fox News Hosts Break Vacations to Cover NYPD Killings, Political Fallout (TVNewser)
Fox hosts Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity broke planned vacations to cover the aftermath of the NYPD murders, returning to work to host new editions of their shows. Bill O’Reilly was off on Monday night, but the killing of two New York City police officers brought him back on the air because, he said, “I’m angry.” O’Reilly called in to The O’Reilly Factor to “send a big message.” O’Reilly then delivered a blistering attack on New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. HuffPost “This is an individual who should resign today. Today. He cannot run this city, he’s lost the control of the police department and their respect,” O’Reilly said.

News Corp, Columbia, NYU Collaborate on Data-Visualization Tools for Journos (FishbowlNY)
Consider a new partnership among News Corp and two academic institutions an early Christmas present to journalists who enjoy tinkering with data but may not possess lots of technical knowledge. A working group consisting of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University and the Integrated Digital Media Program at NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, as well as News Corp, promise to build “visual programming tools” designed for journalists who don’t speak hacking languages.

T.J. Holmes Joins ABC News (TVNewser)
ABC News has named T.J. Holmes co-anchor of America This Morning and World News Now. Holmes, a former anchor at CNN and BET, will also report for the network. Holmes spent five years at CNN before leaving in 2011 to join BET. His show on that network was canceled in 2013. He did fill-in anchor work at MSNBC and ABC.

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60 Minutes Is Nielsen Top 10 Program for Ninth Straight Week (TVNewser)
60 Minutes is a Nielsen Top 10 program for the ninth straight week, drawing 13.2 million viewers to make the list at No. 4. It is the 10th time in 13 weeks that the CBS News magazine has finished among Nielsen’s top 10 primetime broadcasts.

‘Illegal,’ ‘Undocumented’ or Something Else? No Clear Consensus Yet (CJR / The United States Project)
As style manual changes go, it was big news. “Illegal immigrant,” a phrase long used for people living in the country without authorization, was no longer “sanctioned” in Associated Press copy, the wire service declared in April 2013. Its influential Stylebook was updated to read, in part: “Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.” Within weeks, major newspapers like The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and USA Today followed AP’s lead and abandoned the phrase, and it seemed likely more would follow. But things haven’t quite worked out that way — not yet, at least.

Original Series Helped CNN Draw Younger Primetime Audience in 2014 (Variety)
As CNN continues to experiment with ways to boost its primetime ratings, the net has accomplished one objective: getting younger. According to Nielsen data for 2014 released Tuesday, the median age of an average CNN viewer during primetime fell to 58 from 60 in 2013 — matching 2008 as the network’s youngest-skewing year since at least 1992.

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Ron Grover Exits as Los Angeles Bureau Chief of Reuters (Variety)
Longtime media biz reporter Ron Grover has exited his post as Los Angeles bureau chief of Reuters after three years with the global news service. Grover’s departure comes amid a flurry of transitions for established players on media beats, including Bill Carter’s pending exit from The New York Times after 25 years as its top TV reporter.

Sony Exploring Sale of Music Publishing Unit, Leaked Emails Show (WSJ)
Sony Corp. has been exploring the sale of its Sony/ATV Music Publishing unit, the company’s recently leaked internal emails suggest. The music publisher, co-owned by Sony and the estate of the late pop star Michael Jackson, is the world’s biggest and is highly profitable, according to people familiar with the matter. Estimated to be worth between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, it owns the copyrights to most of the Beatles’ songs, among thousands of others.

North Korea’s Internet Service Remains Erratic After Outage (WSJ)
North Korea’s domestic Internet service remained erratic following a digital blackout that lasted more than nine hours, according to cybersecurity research companies and North Korea watchers.

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