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Senate Panel Expresses Caution on Merger of Cable Giants(NYT)
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed concern on Wednesday that the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable would raise the prices consumers pay for cable television and high-speed Internet service while leaving them with fewer choices for video programming. But the senators generally failed to rattle Comcast and Time Warner executives or cause them to diverge from their basic defense of the merger: that it will not affect competition because the two companies do not compete anywhere. Only one senator, Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, said during the three-hour hearing that he wanted the merger blocked. CNNMoney Comcast and Time Warner Cable said that the merger will lead to improvements in services for customers, creating scale and cost savings that will drive new investments. Several Republican senators, most notably Orin Hatch of Utah, seemed to agree. Although the combined company would have a presence in 19 of the top 20 U.S. markets, Comcast executive vice president David Cohen noted that Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t compete in any of those cities. He argued that customer choices therefore won’t be affected.
The Washington Post / The Switch “There’s no doubt that Comcast is a huge, influential company with more than 100 lobbyists” hired to persuade regulators and lawmakers to approve the deal, said Franken. “But I’ve also heard from over 100,000 consumers who oppose the deal.” Cohen said at the hearing that he couldn’t promise to reduce prices on their services. The rise of cable bills at three times the rate of inflation is among the many concerns consumers have about the proposal that would merge the top two cable firms and the biggest and third-biggest broadband providers. Adweek It’s not that the Senators didn’t have “concerns.” The stats that will define the combined company’s unmatched size — 19 of the top 20 markets, 23 of the top 25, and 37 of the top 50 — give lawmakers pause. They even struggled to understand whether or not the combined company would dominate advertising sales. But they stopped short of opposing the merger, calling on the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice “to consider carefully the impact on consumers as they review the pending merger,” said judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy. WSJ / MoneyBeat The hearing came a day after Comcast submitted a 180-page document justifying its purchase of Time Warner Cable. The filing walked through the various parts of the media industry that could be affected by the deal, including online video, television programming and broadband Internet access, as well as local ad sales in the cable market. If the deal wins approval, Comcast would have 30 percent of the nation’s pay-TV subscribers and nearly 40 percent of U.S. broadband subscribers.
Jane Pauley to Join CBS News (USA Today)
Bob Schieffer broke some news during his annual Schieffer Symposium on the News at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth on Wednesday — he revealed that longtime NBC journalist Jane Pauley is joining CBS as a contributor on CBS News Sunday Morning. Variety Pauley may be best known for her 13-year tenure as co-anchor of NBC’s Today, where she held a seat from 1976 to 1989 alongside Tom Brokaw and Bryant Gumbel. She has also served as a host of NBC’s Dateline and as a daytime talk-show host. Fort Worth Star-Telegram Pauley got her start at a CBS affiliate when she was in her early 20s. “Bob has been tormenting me that I ‘defected,’ ” Pauley said. “CBS is the reason I had a 40-year career at NBC. I had to come back home.” The Guardian / Greenslade Blog Pauley, 63, has been away from the screen for a long time. After she co-hosted Dateline from 1992-2003, she hosted The Jane Pauley Show, which lasted for just one season, the following year.
CNN Is Launching A News Show Built for Twitter (WSJ / CMO Today)
As every media company from Yahoo! to Microsoft to Crackle looks to up the amount of original Web video it produces, here comes CNN. The television news network has been in the middle of major overhaul undertaken by CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, as it looks to reverse ratings declines and pull in more advertising revenue. In the meantime, the company also wants a bigger piece of digital advertising budgets, particularly the rush toward more Web video advertising.Lost Remote The Turner network will announce CNN Digital Studios at Thursday’s advertising upfront; a Web-only video expansion with a mix of short 15-second videos aimed at social sharing and longer original webisodes. Your 15 Second Morning is one of the expected forms of content, along with Brutally Honest With Kelly Wallace, and the health-focused Live to 100 w Sanjay Gupta. Mashable The programs are intended to be companions to what airs on TV, though senior CNN VP Andrew Morse says it can serve as a testing ground for content that could be featured on TV later. Mediaite As for whether you can expect to see any of CNN’s television personalities on Your 15 Second Morning, Chris Berend, CNN’s VP for video content development, said he would “never say never,” but stressed that “the story is the talent” in this format and he wouldn’t want anything to get in the way of that.
Hearst Stations Pulled From Dish Over Retrans, Restored Same Day (TVSpy)
Hearst’s 29 stations were off Dish Network Wednesday after retransmission negotiations between the two companies broke down Tuesday night. Reuters Dish Network customers in 25 markets across the United States could no longer view programs from ABC, NBC and CBS broadcast affiliate stations due to the impasse. It was the latest standoff as cable and satellite providers haggle with network TV and other content owners over the price of carrying a channel. Hearst owns 29 local TV broadcast affiliate stations in 25 markets, including Baltimore, Boston and New Orleans. Deadline New York The two companies reached a deal and TV stations were back on Dish Network Wednesday about 14 hours after they went dark. The companies didn’t disclose terms.
Hillary Clinton Book Due Out June 10 (Politico)
Hillary Clinton’s much-anticipated memoir is due out on June 10, according to her publisher. The former secretary of state has said she will likely decide by the end of this year whether she will attempt a second run for president in 2016. A book tour later this summer could further raise her already substantial national profile ahead of such an announcement. The Washington Post / Post Politics Clinton has been working on the memoir since departing as secretary of state in February of last year. The book, to be published by Simon & Schuster, is expected to focus on her tenure as the U.S.’ top diplomat. HuffPost / AP The book’s title and jacket design have not yet been released; the publishing date was released by the publisher on a website for the book. The new book and accompanying media tour will offer Clinton the opportunity to share her outlook for the nation and offer hints about another campaign. Clinton said during a March speech to a publishing industry trade group that her upcoming book will address the “rapidly changing and increasingly interdependent world” and 21st century challenges from “Crimea to climate change.”
Barbara Walters on Her Retirement And Big Changes at The View (Variety)
Barbara Walters is known for turning her interviews into sob sessions, but as she exits the business she’s known all her life, she’s determined not to do that. When the legendary broadcaster retires next month at age 84 from ABC’s The View, following a groundbreaking career that’s featured more than 50 years in front of the television cameras, she’s adamant she won’t shed any tears. “I’m not going to cry,” Walters told the latest issue of Variety. Mediaite TheVariety piece includes well-wishes from people like Diane Sawyer, Star Jones and Larry King, with some of them saying it’s unlikely Walters will just go away into the sunset and not come back to do any more work for ABC. Walters herself doesn’t rule out the possibility either. The Daily Beast Walters signaled in the interview that The View must change, and she’s right. It needs re-bolstered, strong voices at the table or it will sink. Walters wants a right-wing panelist reinstated into the mix, to spice up the conflict around the social issues the program considers “hot.” She is keen to emphasize she is still in charge of the ship.
U.K. MoD Tries to Block Its Own Book on Helmand (The Times / Defence)
The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) has made a last-minute attempt to block the publication of a book it commissioned one of its officers to write about the lessons of the military campaign in Helmand. The study, which is highly critical of British and American naivety in the Afghanistan province, was due to be published Wednesday but officials intervened, claiming a breach of the Official Secrets Act. GalleyCat The organization commissioned Mike Martin, a captain in the Territorial Army, to write the book, entitled An Intimate War — An Oral History of The Helmand Conflict 1978-2012. He has since quit over the dispute. The Guardian While the MoD commissioned the book, it took exception to parts of the account. The dispute has gone on for more than a year. Martin’s resignation means the MoD has largely lost its hold over him and he is relatively free to publish his book.
Paramount Television Sets Comedy, Drama Development Chiefs (Variety)
Paramount’s nascent TV division has named its head of comedy and drama development along with other key execs working under prexy Amy Powell. Powell has spent the past few months assembling a handful of high-end projects and a core team of execs. She’s in the unusual position of launching a startup with the benefit of deep pockets and the archive of a 100-plus year old studio. THR Jennifer Howell, most recently of 20th Century Fox TV, will oversee comedy development, while Annette Savitch, who most recently co-ran Natalie Portman’s Handsomecharlie Films, will do the same for drama development.
David Madden Extends Contract as Fox Television Studios Chief (Variety)
David Madden has a set a long-term contract to remain president of Fox Television Studios. Madden is a highly regarded exec who has presided over the unit’s substantial growth as a producer of drama, comedy and alternative series for cable and digital players, from The Americans for FX to USA’s Graceland to The Killing for Netflix. Deadline Hollywood Because of the health of the company on Madden’s watch, Fox Television Studios was kept as an independent label after the company was put under the purview of 20th TV Studios CEO and chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman and not merged with 20th TV’s own successful cable arm, Fox21.
Egypt Arrests Journalist Said to Work for Al Jazeera (Reuters)
Egyptian security forces have arrested a man who worked for Qatar’s Al Jazeera television network and accused him of inciting and taking part in violence, the state news agency MENA said on Wednesday. An Al Jazeera spokesman could not confirm whether the man arrested in Suez worked for the Doha-based channel, whose support for the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed president Mohamed Mursi has strained relations between Egypt and Qatar.
Hulu Original Series Chief Departs Amid New Programming Push (THR)
Charlotte Koh is leaving her post as Hulu’s head of original series development. Her departure comes just two days after former Warner Horizon chief Craig Erwich joined the online streamer as head of content. Koh has led Hulu’s recent efforts to break into the original programming game alongside competitors Netflix and Amazon. Under her watch, the online streamer has produced lower-budget projects such as dark comedy Deadbeat, a co-production with Lionsgate that premiered Wednesday. Erwich’s appointment indicates that the company is getting more serious about paying top dollar for original series.
RedState, Breitbart Boycott Mozilla to Protest CEO’s ‘Totalitarian’ Ousting (Mediaite)
Conservative sites RedState and Breitbart have both launched boycotts against Mozilla in protest of CEO Brendan Eich being pushed out after his donation to an anti-gay marriage cause went public, displaying big, front-page messages on their sites railing against the “totalitarian” way Mozilla handled Eich’s donation. RedState informed Firefox users Wednesday that they could not access the site, owing to a “conflict with the values of the Mozilla corporation,” and after clicking past the Breitbart homepage to get to the actual website, most of the content was deliberately censored to make their point.
Walter Isaacson, Harvey Weinstein And Johnny Weir (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
Hallelujah! What better way to celebrate the first day when it actually felt like springtime in the city than to dine and dish at two jam-packed Manhattan power lunches. Being Wednesday, we of course made our weekly pilgrimage to Michael’s to observe the famous and fabulous in their natural habitat and then hot-footed it over to The Metropolitan Club for the Annual Authors in Kind Literary Luncheon, benefiting God’s Love We Deliver.
CNN: Crossfire Back on Air Soon (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
CNN’s Crossfire, which had been off the air for one month as of Wednesday, will be “back on the air soon,” the network’s top spokesperson said Wednesday. That assurance, from communications SVP Allison Gollust, may bring an end to uncertainty among CNN staffers as to when the show would return. To date, the network’s top brass has given no formal notice to staff regarding the show’s hiatus. TVNewser Thursday marks one month since Crossfire last aired. But it’s not for a lack of political news: the Affordable Care Act sign-up deadline, which lends itself to fiery debate, came and went; there have been primaries in several states leading up to the 2014 midterms, not to mention the jockeying for 2016, and then there’s the politics of foreign policy: Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East and beyond. A CNN spokesperson tells TVNewser the 6:30 p.m. ET show “will remain on hiatus this week, but will be back soon.”
Tim Golden, Ginger Thompson Leave NYT (FishbowlNY)
Tim Golden is leaving The New York Times to join The Marshall Project. He will serve as the forthcoming site’s managing editor for investigations and news. Golden had been with the Timessince 1990. Ginger Thompson is also departing the Times to join ProPublica as a senior reporter. Thompson had been with the Times for the past 15 years, most recently serving as an investigative reporter. During her time at the paper, she was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize.