Morning Media Newsfeed: Stewart to Step Down | NBC Suspends Williams

Jon Stewart to leave The Daily Show. NBC suspends Brian Williams for six months without pay. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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Jon Stewart Is Leaving The Daily Show (TVNewser)
Jon Stewart will step down from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, according to the network. On Tuesday’s Daily Show taping, Stewart told viewers he would be leaving, though no precise date for his departure was made. FishbowlNY On Twitter, journalists were in a state of disbelief that the Emmy Award-winning mentor to John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and so many more talents in front of and behind the camera is hanging it up. Stewart will be exiting sometime later this year. THR / The Live Feed Stewart, who joined the network in 1999, turned The Daily Show into a phenomenon when he stepped into Craig Kilborn’s former post. It has spent much of the time since as the highest-rated late-night talk show among younger viewers, and it has become one of the most influential political programs in the U.S. — despite its satirical nature. HuffPost The show is Comedy Central’s longest running program other than South Park. At its peak, The Daily Show boasted more than 3 million nightly viewers. It has won 19 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and inspired three popular spin-offs: The Colbert Report, Last Week Tonight, and The Nightly Show. Stewart had previously taken a leave of absence in 2013 to direct the film Rosewater. Mashable Comedy Central plans to continue its flagship series with a new host, people close to the situation said. What wasn’t immediately clear was what Stewart planned to do next. He made his directorial debut with Rosewater at the Toronto Film Festival and spoke rapturously of the experience throughout his press tour.

NBC Suspends Brian Williams for Six Months Without Pay (TVNewser)
NBC News has announced that Brian Williams will be suspended as managing editor and anchor of NBC Nightly News for six months. NBC News president Deborah Turness says she, along with NBCU CEO Steve Burke and NBC News Group head Pat Fili, told Williams of their decision earlier Tuesday. FishbowlDC The suspension is effectively immediately and comes after an internal investigation into the veteran anchor’s false remarks about being in a helicopter that was shot down while covering the Iraq war. Lester Holt will continue to anchor NBC Nightly News in Williams’ absence. FishbowlNY “Brian misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003,” wrote Turness. “It then became clear that on other occasions Brian had done the same while telling that story in other venues. This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.” NYT His departure culminated a rapid and startling fall from grace for Williams, who at age 55 was the head of the highest-rated evening news show, the winner of top industry accolades, a coveted speaker at dinners and panels, and a frequent celebrity guest on entertainment shows. For NBC, the suspension provides at least a temporary solution to the crisis that has engulfed the network since Williams admitted last week that he had misled the public with the helicopter story.

The Guardian Hires Chelsea Manning (Mediaite)
The Guardian’s U.S. news wing announced on Tuesday that it has hired Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) as a contributing opinion writer. The Guardian’s U.S. editor-in-chief Katharine Viner announced the news on Twitter, adding that Manning will write about “war, gender [and] freedom of information.” HuffPost Currently serving a 35-year sentence in federal prison for supplying thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks, Manning has written on such topics before. In December, she penned an essay for The Guardian titled “I Am A Transgender Woman And The Government Is Denying My Civil Rights,” and in June she wrote a piece for The New York Times blasting the U.S. government for keeping information from the American people. FishbowlNY The Guardian U.S. has also added Sabrina Siddiqui and Ben Jacobs as political reporters. Siddiqui comes to The Guardian from The Huffington Post, where she served in a similar role. Jacobs most recently worked as a political reporter for The Daily Beast.

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Newsweek Twitter Hacked by Pro-ISIS Group (FishbowlNY)
Newsweek’s Twitter account was hacked by a pro-ISIS group called “CyberCaliphate.” In a series of posts, the group leaked documents, threatened the Obama family — citing Michelle Obama specifically — and pinned its mission statement to the top of the profile page. Mediaite The tweets have since been deleted. The Newsweek avi was also replaced by a graphic that made reference to the “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag. “We can confirm that Newsweek’s Twitter account was hacked this morning, and have since regained control of the account,” Newsweek said in a statement. “We apologize to our readers for anything offensive that might have been sent from our account during that period, and are working to strengthen our newsroom security measures going forward.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The same group also appeared to have concurrently hacked IBTimes.com, which is also owned by Newsweek‘s parent company IBT Media. IBTimes.com was also hacked in December by the Syrian Electronic Army.

Premier League Soccer TV Rights Stay With Sky, BT in Record $7.8 Billion Deal (Deadline)
England’s Premier League has sold its latest round of soccer TV rights for a record-breaking $7.8 billion (£5.136 billion) to Sky and BT, representing a 71 percent increase from its last rights auction, also won by Sky and BT. THR Longtime rights holder Sky has won five of seven TV rights packages for the games. BT, formerly known as British Telecom, will retain two packages with 42 matches per season for $1.46 billion, starting with the 2016/2017 season, while Sky will have the rights to 126 games per season for $6.37 billion. WSJ Sky will pay £1.392 billion in each of the three years of the new agreement, an 83 percent increase over the cost of its existing contract. The rights will cost £320 million per season compared with £246 million per season now.

Sony Demands Dismissal of Hack Lawsuits From Ex-Employees (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
On Monday, Sony Pictures offered its first substantive response to the many lawsuits that have been filed by former employees in the wake of a large-scale hack. Variety Sony is arguing that two ex-employees had failed to show that they suffered “concrete injury” from the data breach. In a response to one class action lawsuit filed by former employees Michael Corona and Christina Mathis, the studio called the breach “massive and unprecedented,” and even included an FBI press release attributing it to North Korea. But in its effort to have the claim quickly dismissed the studio is not arguing that the attack was unforeseen. Rather, it is arguing that the plaintiffs do not have standing. Deadline A Feb. 23 hearing is already set on the matter of consolidating the seven class actions into one. All of which means Sony might find itself fighting the same battle on a new front.

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Time Inc. Sells Print Ads Programmatically (FishbowlNY)
Time Inc. is stepping into the future of advertising. The company is now allowing advertisers to use programmatic advertising — the buying and selling of ads via a computer program — to purchase print ads. The tech is typically reserved for online ad space. Capital New York Marketers can now purchase print ads through the company’s automated digital buying platform, also known as a “programmatic marketplace.” Time Inc. said it is collaborating with the ad-buying firm MediaMath to give programmatic buyers access to print audiences ranging in size from 5 million to 89 million readers across numerous categories, such as lifestyle and luxury, and 18 of the company’s U.S. titles, which include Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and Entertainment Weekly.

Evening News Ratings: Week of Feb. 2 (TVNewser)
Despite ending the week on a low note, NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams won the week of Feb. 2 in both total viewers and the adult 25-54 demo. Nightly News averaged 10.18 million viewers for the week, but dropped 27 percent from its Monday high of 11.58 million to Friday’s low of 8.43 million. By then, the allegations of Williams’ fabrications were still mounting. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Nightly led ABC’s World News Tonight by 8 percent and CBS Evening News by 30 percent in total viewers. Nightly also scored the top spot in the demo with 2.535 million, 8 percent more than World and 40 percent more than Evening.

With Marvel Deal, Sony Opts to Lease Rather Than Sell Spider-Man (THR / Heat Vision)
Given the ho-hum performance of last year’s Amazing Spider-Man 2, speculation had been mounting that Sony might sell the superhero back to Marvel and Disney. Instead, it made a move no one expected: opting to lease the rights to the web-slinger to its rival for a single film. Sources say no money changed hands between the two studios in the deal and it is instead seen as a quid pro quo transaction. Deadline Kevin Feige, who has steered a ton of hit franchise launches for Marvel, will board the project as producer. He will produce the next film with Amy Pascal, who just left the executive suites at Sony for a big production deal.

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CBSN Expands Live News Coverage to Sunday Nights (TVNewser)
CBS News will expand its streaming service to include live newscasts on Sunday nights starting Feb. 15. Jeff Glor, who anchors the Sunday edition of the CBS Evening News, will add additional duties anchoring a CBSN newscast at 7 p.m. ET, a network spokesperson said.

Hachette Book Sales Down 4.8 Percent in 2014 (GalleyCat)
The Hachette Book Group’s full year net revenues dropped 4.8 percent in 2014 as compared to 2013. The publisher attributed the decrease in revenues to an unusual 2013, “which benefited from releases of films tied to novels published by the Group, and a backdrop of trade tensions with Amazon,” said the company.

Grammys Power Billboard to Single-Day Web Traffic Record (FishbowlNY)
Per an internal memo from Guggenheim Media Entertainment Group chief creative officer and co-president Janice Min, the Monday halo of the 2015 edition of the music industry’s biggest night paid huge dividends for the digital side of both of the magazines she has revamped. In the case of Billboard, interest in Kanye West vs. Beck, Madonna vs. gravity and the rest powered the site to its best day of Web traffic ever.

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E! Combines Online, On-Air News Divisions, Ups Execs (THR)
E!’s news divisions are coming under one roof. Following a wave of executive changes, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network plans to integrate its E! News and the company’s digital arm into a single division under the leadership of the network’s executive VP of news and digital John Najarian.

Univision Communications Posts Fourth-Quarter Loss (THR)
Univision Communications swung to a fourth-quarter net loss, but its other financial metrics improved. The Spanish-language media giant on Tuesday reported a loss of $136.2 million for the fourth quarter, compared with a year-ago profit of $172.2 million when a much bigger benefit for income taxes boosted the bottom line.

Forbes Website Was Compromised by Chinese Cyber-Espionage Group, Researchers Say (The Washington Post)
Chinese hackers hijacked Forbes.com and used the site as part of an attack on the U.S. defense and financial industry, according to cybersecurity researchers at iSIGHT Partners and Invincea.

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