50 Positions Cut Across CNN (TVNewser)
CNN has eliminated at least 50 positions across several divisions. Employees in New York, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta at CNN Digital, CNN Money, Newsgathering and the CNN Library were told their positions are changing. Thursday’s cuts follow the elimination of 16 positions last month from the image and sound unit in Atlanta. A CNN insider said the changes are related to the integration of television and digital newsgathering. Capital New York There is not expected to be any reduction in employee headcount. While some positions are being eliminated, the same number of new jobs will be created, albeit with different descriptions or responsibilities. CNN is encouraging affected employees to apply for the new jobs, which are expected to start posting as early as this week. TheWrap CNN president Jeff Zucker met with newsroom reporters on Thursday to tell them the bad news. The cuts mainly affect news producers and managers, some of whom will be invited to reapply for new or “updated” positions at lower salaries. The insider said Zucker’s plan is to reduce packaged news stories to three or four per day and described the reaction in the newsroom as “shell-shocked.” Variety Under Zucker, the news network has been placing more emphasis on live coverage of breaking events as well as documentaries, leaving less room for the creation of pre-taped video packages that had been more of a staple on the network. THR / The Live Feed With the Time Inc. spinoff from Time Warner set for later this year, the CNN Money website is planning on separating Fortune magazine into a standalone entity on June 1. Fortune and Money magazines are currently housed on the CNN Money site.
How The Evening Newscasts Reported The New Benghazi Emails (TVNewser)
CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley was the only evening newscast Wednesday night to not cover newly uncovered emails from White House adviser Ben Rhodes, which provided talking points to former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice before her Sunday show interviews several days after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in Sept. 2012. Rhodes’ email to Rice advised her to stress that the Benghazi attacks were rooted in a controversial YouTube video, “and not a broader failure of policy.” Mediaite When the new Benghazi information was made public this week, CBS News covered the new details online (with a disclosure that Ben Rhodes is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes) but not in its CBS Evening News broadcast. Some conservative sites claimed a serious conflict of interest, with the Heritage Network blog and the Washington Free Beacon picking up on the familial connection. HuffPost According to a network spokesperson, David Rhodes was not involved in editorial discussions on Wednesday about whether CBS Evening News should cover the email. Fox News and other conservative outlets have long claimed that the Benghazi attack hasn’t received enough media attention, even as the subject’s been hashed out numerous times in White House briefing room and journalists have covered the story consistently. The Daily Caller ABC World News ran a lengthy segment on the revelations Wednesday, saying the White House was “feeling the heat” and that the “email seems to call into question what the White House said about its role” in deceiving the public about the cause of the Benghazi attacks. Likewise, NBC Nightly News highlighted the new emails Wednesday night.
Television Revenue Helps Profit at Viacom Rise 4 Percent (NYT)
Viacom, the media powerhouse that includes the movie studio Paramount and cable television channels like MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, generated $502 million in profit for its latest fiscal quarter, driven by increased advertising and higher affiliate fees for its television outlets, the company reported on Thursday. Variety The company said net earnings from continuing operations increased 4 percent to $502 million, or $1.13 a share, compared with $481 million, or 96 cents per share in the year-earlier period. Performance at the company’s cable networks drove the quarter. Revenue at the operations rose 6 percent to $2.38 billion in the period, compared with $2.23 billion in the year-earlier period. Domestic ad revenue rose 2 percent while worldwide ad revenue rose 3 percent to $1.12 billion. Deadline New York The Paramount-led filmed entertainment unit told a different story with operating income down 83 percent, to $11 million, on revenues of $831 million, down 12 percent. Viacom attributes the drop to “lower carryover revenue from prior period releases.” The Washington Post Viacom also said Thursday that it’s buying Britain’s Channel 5 Broadcasting Ltd. for €450 million (about $757 million), increasing its investment in U.K.-produced content. The commercial public service broadcaster is watched by more than 80 percent of the U.K. population monthly. Viacom said it expects it to complement its pay TV networks.
NYT Posts Circulation Gains (FishbowlNY)
The New York Times posted a solid increase in circulation for the six-month period ending March 2014. According to the Alliance for Audited Media’s (AAM) latest report, the paper’s total average circulation (print and digital) was at 2,149,012 for weekday editions and 2,517,307 for the Sunday edition. That marks gains of 15 and 8 percent, respectively. Capital New York USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times remain America’s top three newspapers in terms of total average circulation, according to the latest figures. The order is as follows: USA Today led at 3,255,157; the Journal was second with 2,294,093; and the Times third. Poynter / MediaWire However, the Times’ figure includes 126,162 branded editions, which AAM rules allow newspapers to roll in alongside print and digital circulation. The Times has never before included branded editions in its circulation totals, and those figures “are comprised of the International New York Times, and are included in the circulation for every day except Sunday,” Times spokesperson Linda Zebian said. Subtract those and the gain is a little more than 8 percent.
Sony Slashes Profit Forecast Again, Raising Pressure on CEO (Reuters)
Sony Corp. slashed its earnings guidance for the third time in a year on Thursday to barely 10 percent of its initial outlook as further losses from its PC exit cast a pall over its struggling electronics division. The steep cut marks the failure of chief executive Kazuo Hirai to fulfill promises he made upon taking the helm of the electronics giant two years ago. The repeated misses — the latest just two weeks before Sony announces full-year results — are fueling anger among investors even as Hirai rebuffs billionaire hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb’s proposal to spin off Sony’s profitable entertainment business. Bloomberg Sony posted a preliminary net loss of 130 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in the 12 months ended March, the Tokyo-based company said in earnings reported Thursday. That’s the third downward revision after a February loss projection of 110 billion yen, itself a reduction from a revised October forecast for profit of 30 billion yen. Forbes Naturally none of this has to do with its gaming division, performing beyond admirably with 7 million PS4s sold, far more than they were ever anticipating. Rather, the problems stem from Sony’s lingering involvement in the home PC game, a space it is rapidly trying to eject itself from, and also from a downturn in its disc-manufacturing business, which faces an uphill climb as physical media becomes less and less prevalent.
Star Wars Goes Mobile With Interactive Storybooks From Disney, Lucasfilm (Variety)
The Walt Disney Co. and Lucasfilm want to introduce the Star Wars film franchise to younger audiences and families through interactive story books called “Star Wars Journeys” that launched Thursday. The app-based experience, available only on Apple devices as of now, is the first digital Star Wars product that Disney Publishing and Lucasfilm have developed in-house since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012. THR / Heat Vision The series of apps are targeted at ages 6-8 and mix immersive storytelling with gameplay, activities and background information about the characters and concepts within the story. The line launched with The Phantom Menace, with apps planned for each of the remaining five movies to be rolled out in upcoming months. NYT A long lull followed the 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm, but Star Wars news lately has been plentiful. On April 17, came word of four new children’s books written by well-known authors. Then, last Friday, Lucasfilm unveiled a more coordinated approach to Star Wars storytelling across movies, cartoon series and spinoffs; Disney Publishing Worldwide simultaneously announced a new line of adult Star Wars books. And on Tuesday the Star Wars: Episode VII cast was revealed.
DirecTV Shares Rise After Reports Surface of AT&T Interest (Variety)
Shares of DirecTV rose more than 5 percent in early trading Thursday, one day after reports surfaced that telecommunications giant AT&T is interested in buying the satellite broadcaster in a deal valued at up to $40 billion that could potentially create a large rival to the merger of Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable currently trying to move forward. Deadline New York However, Dish Network was up even more at 7.5 percent, indicating that investors believe that AT&T would prefer to strike a deal with Dish, which has been amassing rights to spectrum in the hope of creating a wireless broadband business.
Quentin Tarantino Files New Gawker Lawsuit Over Hateful Eight Script Leak (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
Quentin Tarantino has added a bold new claim in his lawsuit against Gawker over the leak of his script, The Hateful Eight. After failing in his first attempt to punish Gawker for contributing to the dissemination of his work but being allowed the opportunity to amend a complaint, Tarantino is now asserting that Gawker committed direct copyright infringement. As a result, the judge now has the opportunity to address whether a news site that downloads copyrighted material is violating the rights of the author. Variety The incident in question occurred in January after Tarantino complained that someone had leaked the screenplay for his latest project. Gawker posted a story on its Defamer site titled “Here Is The Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script” with a link to a third-party website hosting the 146-page script.
BSkyB Profit Falls on Higher Costs, But Revenue Rises (WSJ)
British Sky Broadcasting Group’s profit fell as costs for technology and television soccer rights dented its earnings Thursday, but accelerating TV subscriber growth and new product demand pushed up revenue. The U.K.-based satellite broadcaster and pay-TV giant’s net profit in the nine months ended March 31 fell to £623 million ($1.05 billion) from £736 million in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 7 percent to £5.67 billion, versus expectations of £5.68 billion. THR BSkyB also said it has reached a new multiyear licensing deal with Paramount Pictures. The company, in which Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox owns a 39 percent stake, signed up 74,000 net new TV subscribers in the latest quarter, compared with 30,000 in the same period of 2013, ending March with more than 10.61 million TV subscribers.
NatGeo Gets New Editor-in-Chief, Chief Content Officer (FishbowlDC)
The National Geographic Society announced Wednesday the promotion of executive editor of news and features Susan Goldberg to editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine and News. She will replace Chris Johns, who takes on the newly defined role of chief content officer. The reorg comes as part of a general realignment at NatGeo being spearheaded by CEO and president Gary Knell.
After Extended Hiatus, Crossfire Returns (TVNewser)
After being off the air for more than seven weeks, CNN’s Crossfire returned Thursday night. The panel-debate show was last seen on CNN’s airwaves March 10, but has been sidelined since as the network aired near nonstop coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In its place, Wolf Blitzer hosted an extended full-hour The Situation Room. The full hour with Blitzer, which predominantly covered the missing airliner for all of March and much of April, was the most-watched cable news show in the demo at 6 p.m. ET twice in March.
Bloomberg News Announces Promotions in DC Bureau (FishbowlDC)
Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler and senior executive editor Laurie Hays announced this week a series of promotions to lead its Washington bureau. Winnie O’Kelley was named executive editor for all U.S. government, legal and regulatory stories, Craig Gordon will be managing editor for Washington news and Jonathan Allen was named Washington bureau chief. In addition, Michael Shepard and Nicholas Johnston were named new deputy managing editors and will work together with current deputy managing editor Jeanne Cummings to run the coverage.
Time Inc. to Build Standalone Portal for Video (Capital New York)
Time Inc. is launching a platform for digital video content from all its magazine brands, the company announced at its inaugural presentation for the Digital Content Newfronts on Thursday morning. The portal, to be called The Daily Cut, will put all of Time Inc.’s video content in one place, Time Inc. senior vice president of video J.R. McCabe said.
Relativity Makes Rich Bid for Fullscreen (THR)
It looks like Relativity Media has moved on after being spurned by Maker Studios last month. The Ryan Kavanaugh-led studio has made a rich offer of up to nearly $1 billion for YouTube multichannel network Fullscreen, according to multiple sources. One source says the base offer is for $350 million plus a $400 million earnout, while another says that the total offer would near $1 billion if certain earnings targets are met.
BookBub Has Raised $3.8 Million in Funding (GalleyCat)
eBook promotion site BookBub has raised $3.8 million in Series A funding, bringing in investments from NextView Ventures, Founder Collective, Avalon Ventures and Bloomberg Beta. The site is designed to help authors and publishers build audiences and for readers to discover new reads through flash sales on eBooks. The site counts almost 3 million members.
Oprah, Diddy, Floyd Mayweather: Who do you think should buy the LA Clippers?
missphenom Oprah. I would like to be in the audience for the ‘Favorite Things’ episode. It would be epic!