Fox, Time Warner Deliver Dueling Earnings Reports, Both Positive (NYT)
How dead is the Fox-Time Warner deal? So dead that Rupert Murdoch hopped on his company’s quarterly earnings call on Wednesday to drive home the point that his giant media company, 21st Century Fox, really is walking away. The collapse of the deal, which would have been the biggest media merger in a decade, set the stage for a day of dueling earnings reports and analyst conference calls on Wednesday, as both Fox and Time Warner sought to reassure investors that they were going to be just fine without each other. Capital New York “This is our resolute decision, which is why we formally withdrew our acquisition offer,” Murdoch said, citing Time Warner’s decision not to negotiate, the response from Fox’s board of directors, along with Fox’s stock price, which Murdoch said is “severely undervalued.” Variety Film and cable programming gains powered 21st Century Fox to strong earnings and revenue gains in the fiscal fourth quarter, despite a big decline at the Fox network from the collapse of American Idol. Fox reported revenue of $8.42 billion, a 17 percent gain over the year-ago quarter powered by stronger contributions from the film division. Operating income climbed 17 percent to $1.77 billion. THR During the regular session Wednesday, shares of 21st Century Fox rose 3 percent and another 4 percent after the closing bell. Shares of Time Warner, meantime, were crushed because of the failed merger attempt, falling 13 percent in regular trading Wednesday. HuffPost / AP Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday that its second-quarter net income rose 10 percent on strong results from its HBO and Turner properties. New York-based Time Warner, which owns TV channels like HBO and TBS as well as Warner Bros. studios, said profit increased to $850 million, or 95 cents per share, from $771 million, or 81 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
Andy Coulson Accused of Perjury in Scottish Trial (HuffPost / AP)
Prosecutors have charged former tabloid editor Andy Coulson with perjury over evidence he gave in the trial of a Scottish politician. The Guardian In a three-page indictment handed down at the high court in Glasgow, Coulson has been accused of lying about his knowledge of phone hacking at the now defunct News of The World tabloid, lying about his knowledge of the “culture” of hacking at the paper and lying about his knowledge of payments allegedly made to corrupt police officers while editor of the paper. Coulson did not attend the hour-long preliminary hearing and did not enter a plea. NYT The latest charges at the High Court in Glasgow relate to testimony in 2010 at the trial of Tommy Sheridan, a Scottish lawmaker, and his wife. The Scottish prosecutors also said on Wednesday that Coulson was aware of corrupt payments made to police officers to obtain a private telephone directory compiled by the royal family. BBC News A further hearing was set for October. The court was told a trial would not take place before January next year.
Revenue, Profit Drop at Viacom (NYT)
Viacom, the media group that includes the Paramount film studio and the cable television networks MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, reported a 5.1 percent decrease in profit in the latest fiscal quarter, with earnings dragged down by declines in the filmed entertainment group. WSJ The media networks division, which includes the cable networks, posted $2.59 billion in revenue, up less than 1 percent from a year ago. Advertising revenue rose slightly, while affiliate revenue was flat due in part to the licensing of content to Amazon last year. Excluding the impact of licensing deals, domestic affiliate revenue growth was in the low-double digits on a percentage basis. THR The earnings and revenue figures came in slightly below Wall Street expectations. Film revenue fell 26 percent as Transformers: Age of Extinction opened in the U.S. only late in the quarter, with most revenue to be recognized in the following weeks and months. The year-ago period had benefited from a Star Trek movie and World War Z. Deadline Hollywood CEO Philippe Dauman called it “a solid quarter for Viacom,” touting the $1 billion that the company returned to shareholders via buybacks and dividends as it “continued to build on our success in creating outstanding content.” Meanwhile, Paramount showed a steep revenue decline in comparison to last year when it distributed Iron Man 3. Sales fell 26 percent to $856 million although the reduction in film and distribution expenses lifted operating income by 224 percent to $55 million. Theatrical revenues fell 43 percent while worldwide home entertainment dropped 24 percent.
More View Moves: Rachel Maddow Exec Producer to Replace Bill Geddie (THR / The Live Feed)
ABC is filling another key role in its quest to reinvigorate The View. Sources say that longtime Rachel Maddow Show executive producer Bill Wolff is set to replace Bill Geddie as showrunner for the upcoming season. Mediaite Geddie co-created The View with Barbara Walters in 1997 and has served as its executive producer ever since. His presumed departure follows that of Walters, who went into semi-retirement earlier this year. Variety Wolff also serves as vice president of MSNBC’s primetime programming. An MSNBC spokeswoman confirmed Wolff is leaving the network. ABC announced in July that Rosie O’Donnell, the often-controversial hostess and comedienne, would join Whoopi Goldberg at the center of The View for its 18th season.
Google Acquires Directr, A Small Business Video Marketing Startup (Mashable)
Google’s YouTube has acquired Directr, a startup aimed at helping small businesses create promotional videos. Directr markets a mobile app on iOS that provides small businesses with a way to create and publish videos. WSJ No purchase price was disclosed. The Directr team will join YouTube’s video ads team, Google said. Variety Boston-based Directr had raised about $1.7 million in funding from investors including NextView Ventures, Boston Seed Capital, Advancit Capital and Initialized Capital. The company’s app “unlocks the power of video for every business with simple tools and built-in smarts,” according to the Directr website. The company was founded in 2012 by Max Goldman, previously founder of TheApptitude, and Eli Schleifer, formerly a Microsoft software-development engineer.
WaPo Removes Sections of Article After Source Admits to Fabrications (Mediaite)
Entire sections of an article in the Washington Post’s new longread vertical Storyline were removed Wednesday after one of the story’s primary sources admitted to fabricating a number of the experiences related by author Jeff Guo. The changes were made to Monday’s “The Black HIV Epidemic: A Public Health Mystery From Atlanta’s Gay Community.” HuffPost The story appeared as part of the Post’s Storyline vertical, which just debuted last month and aims to cover policy through narrative journalism. The Post has removed 2,000 words from the article.
Al Jazeera America CEO on Channel’s First Anniversary: ‘We Have Accomplished A Lot’ (TVNewser)
In a note to Al Jazeera America staff Wednesday afternoon about the channel’s upcoming one-year anniversary, CEO Ehab Al Shihabi said staffers “have accomplished a lot” over the past 12 months. Capital New York “In year two, we are going to continue to grow our distribution, continue our outreach efforts, extend our brand, introduce TV Everywhere, and develop our advertising business,” Al Shihabi wrote. “Most importantly we will continue to deliver high-quality journalism online and on the screen.” In other words, AJAM will be looking to continue its branding and awareness campaigns, while extending its reach via traditional (cable distribution) and less traditional (TV everywhere) means.
HuffPost to Launch Arabic-Language Site (FishbowlNY)
The Huffington Post is expanding once again, this time targeting the “Arab world.” HuffPost Arabi will be in Arabic and feature original reporting and a blogging platform, just like the 745 million other HuffPost sites. Editorial staff of HuffPost Arabi will be based in London. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The site will look similar to the regular Huffington Post — a combination of aggregation and commentary from a wide range of sources, as well as original reporting from Huffington Post reporters and on-the-ground journalists from Integral Media Strategies. HuffPost Arabi is expected to launch early next year.
BBC Responds to Reports it Pulled Mideast Editor From Gaza for Upsetting Israel (THR)
The BBC has stepped in to dismiss claims that it pulled its Middle East editor from reporting on Gaza following a complaint by Israel. Writing in the New Statesman magazine last month, Jeremy Bowen, a veteran broadcaster with 30 years of experience at the BBC, wrote that while reporting on the current conflict in Gaza he “saw no evidence” of Israel’s charge that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields, an accusation that the country has used to defend its shelling of densely populated areas that has resulted in the death of more than 1,800 Palestinians, most of whom are civilians. Mediaite Days later, Bowen was no longer reporting from Gaza. His Twitter feed went mostly silent, and some people believed that this was a deliberate move on the BBC’s part to silence him. The BBC’s Trending blog deemed this naught more than a “conspiracy theory,” and a BBC spokesperson said in a statement, “Claims that Jeremy Bowen has been removed from Gaza under Israeli pressure are nonsense. After reporting from Syria, Iraq, Israel and Gaza he is on holiday but will be returning to the Middle East very soon.”
InStyle to Reveal September Cover on Snapchat (SocialTimes)
InStyle, one of Time Inc.’s flagship brands, boasts a social following (8 million across platforms) that is more than four times its print circulation. The magazine managed to grow its Facebook page 600 percent year-over-year, in part thanks to a partnership with the social network to leverage its data. The publication’s next social foray is Snapchat. The glossy is revealing its September cover on the ephemeral messaging platform Thursday.
Muscle & Fitness Hers EIC Apologizes for Plagiarism (FishbowlNY)
In lieu of a pair of recent posts credited to Mona Muresan, editor-in-chief of AMI’s Muscle & Fitness Hers, there is now only this: “Sorry, but this post no longer exists. We apologize for the inconvenience.” On Tuesday, Muresan took to the same website Community section where these items previously resided to offer an explanation and apology. The plagiarism committed by Muresan’s hired hand was blatant.
Fox News Correspondent Steve Centanni Is Retiring (TVNewser)
Steve Centanni, a veteran foreign correspondent for Fox News Channel, is retiring. Centanni, 68, covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2006, during an earlier flare-up in violence in Gaza, Centanni and his cameraman Olaf Wiig were kidnapped and held captive for 13 days. Centanni has been with Fox News since it launched in 1996. For the last several years, he’s been based out of FNC’s Washington, D.C. bureau.
Russia Gives Snowden 3-Year Residency (CNN)
Edward Snowden, who leaked secret information about U.S. spying programs, has been granted an extension to stay in Russia for three more years, his attorney said in a televised press conference in Moscow Thursday. Snowden recently formally requested that Russia’s government extend his temporary asylum and Snowden attorney Anatoly Kucherena said the request had been accepted.
Q2 Earnings: Sinclair Net Broadcast Revenues Rise 45 Percent (TVSpy)
Sinclair Broadcast Group reported $404.2 million in net broadcast revenues for the second quarter of 2014, a 44.7 percent increase on the year-ago quarter. Operating income was $103 million, an increase of 22.3 percent from Q2 2013.
NYT Launches Enhanced Archive Search (FishbowlNY)
Subscribers to The New York Times can now search 129 years worth of the Grey Lady. The paper has launched TimesMachine, an interactive archive search tool that allows readers to dig through 11,298,320 articles that were published between Sept. 18, 1851 and Dec. 31, 1980. In connection with TimesMachine, the Times has launched the NYTArchives Twitter account, which posts interesting articles from throughout the paper’s history.