Microsoft to Lay Off 18,000 Workers, Largest Cuts in History (SocialTimes)
Over the next year, Microsoft is eliminating 18,000 jobs, or as much as 14 percent of its workforce. CEO Satya Nadella wrote a public email to company employees on Thursday saying “every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently.” He said that he would give more details on Tuesday, when Microsoft reports its fiscal 2014 results. Deadline Hollywood The layoffs will hit hardest at the Nokia Devices and Services phone handset business, acquired in April. “We are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months,” Nadella said in the email Thursday. Microsoft expects the restructuring to result in as much as $1.6 billion in pre-tax charges over the next four quarters. That will include as much as $800 million for severance and related benefit costs, and up to $800 million in asset-related charges. Variety Microsoft is also getting out of developing original series for its Xbox gaming platform and will close Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months. Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced Xbox Entertainment Studios will shutter and that some projects in development and production, including a live-action Halo series, will still be produced. New York Post / Reuters The studio, set up in 2012 under then-CEO Steve Ballmer, said in April it had committed to several projects including Humans, a drama co-produced with U.K. broadcaster Channel 4, and Halo. NYT While Microsoft still makes profits that executives at other companies would be ecstatic to have, it has been beaten on the biggest new trends in tech, including mobile, Internet search and cloud computing. As a result, it is regularly left out of conversations about companies defining the next generation of technology, outflanked and overshadowed by companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
U.S. Copyright Office Says Aereo Not A Cable Company Under Terms of Copyright Act (CNBC)
U.S. copyright officials have told Aereo that they do not consider it a “cable company” under the terms of copyright law. TVSpy The notice came a week after Aereo said it would seek to continue operations “as a cable system” after the Supreme Court ruled June 25 that the streaming service violated broadcasters’ copyrights. Deadline Hollywood The U.S. Copyright Office said, in a letter sent to Aereo Wednesday, it “does not believe Aereo qualifies” for a designation as a cable service, which would enable the streaming service to have what’s known as a compulsory license to offer broadcast signals with fees set by the government. Internet transmissions of over-the-air TV “fall outside the scope” of the copyright rules that apply to cable companies. Variety In the letter to Aereo, the office’s general counsel, Jacqueline Charlesworth, cited a 2012 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals case that rejected a similar attempt by streaming service Ivi to obtain a statutory license, noting that such licenses are meant to encompass “localized retransmission services” that are “regulated as cable systems by the FCC.” She added that “we don’t see anything” from the Supreme Court’s recent decision “that would alter this conclusion.”
Evening Newscasts Juggle Dueling Breaking News Stories (TVNewser)
The three evening newscasts were each expanded to an hour Thursday night following a busy news day that included the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, shot down near the Russia-Ukraine border, and the launch of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza following 10 days of heavy violence there. TVNewser ABC’s George Stephanopoulos was the only broadcast anchor still on the air when news of the ground invasion broke at approximately 4 p.m. ET. “We’re just getting reports now from our Hamish MacDonald that Israeli military confirms to ABC news that the ground phase of the war in Gaza has indeed begun,” Stephanopoulos said. “Another huge crisis escalating at the same time as we’re getting all of these reports of the downed airliner.” FishbowlDC The Malaysia Airlines jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down along the Ukraine/Russia border Thursday morning. Anderson Cooper quickly took over coverage for CNN’s John Berman. Fox News Channel national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported on the matter from the Pentagon. CBS News’ Major Garrett, Bob Orr and Jeff Pegues reported from D.C. ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, Jonathan Karl and Jim Avila contributed to network coverage. Thursday’s World News aired an extended broadcast to cover the crash from 6:30-7:30 p.m. with David Muir anchoring. Brian Williams took over for Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie at 12:59 p.m. on NBC. The Intercept Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed Wednesday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, was told by NBC executives to leave Gaza Thursday. According to an NBC source, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepared a ground invasion.
Liberty Global to Buy Stake in British Broadcaster ITV (NYT / DealBook)
John C. Malone’s Liberty Global agreed on Thursday to buy a minority stake in the British broadcaster ITV, further expanding the international cable company’s reach into Europe. Liberty Global, which has spent billions of dollars to acquire several cable businesses across Europe, is buying the 6.4 percent stake from the British Sky Broadcasting Group for £481 million, or $824 million. WSJ The minority-share deal is the third foray into Britain for Liberty Global, the international cable vehicle of U.S. media mogul John Malone. Last year, Liberty paid $16 billion to acquire Virgin Media, the U.K. cable television and Internet service provider that battles telecommunications incumbent BT Group and BSkyB for telephone, broadband and pay-TV subscribers. Earlier this year, Liberty and U.S. peer Discovery Communications Inc. jointly acquired All3Media of the U.K. for nearly $1 billion. Deadline Hollywood BSkyB first bought a stake in ITV in 2006, but was later forced to reduce its holdings. Speculation has been that the company would need to raise several billion in funds if it is to go ahead with a plan to merge with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
BBC News to Cut More Than 400 Jobs (Capital New York)
BBC director of news James Harding said Thursday that the British media outlet plans to cut 415 jobs as part of an ongoing effort to reduce overhead. The 8,400-person news organization will see a net 220 full-time job losses overall, as it plans to create 195 new positions to boost the its digital staff. BBC News The move is part of £800 million efficiency savings required after the license fee was frozen in 2010. The latest cuts are expected to save £48 million by 2017. THR BBC News currently employs around 8,400 people worldwide, including around 5,000 journalists. Beyond job cuts, cost savings will come through back office efficiencies, an integration with the BBC World Service radio operation to reduce costs in international bureaus and “changes to the planning and commissioning of coverage.” The cost-cutting move completes a broader BBC News initiative dubbed the “Delivering Quality First” program. It was initiated after an agreement on the BBC licensing fee, which U.K. homes pay to finance the broadcaster, which included new coverage obligations despite an unchanged fee. The BBC said that effectively cut its budget by 26 percent.
Edward Snowden Urges Professionals to Encrypt Client Communications (The Guardian)
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has urged lawyers, journalists, doctors, accountants, priests and others with a duty to protect confidentiality to upgrade security in the wake of the spy surveillance revelations. “What last year’s revelations showed us was irrefutable evidence that unencrypted communications on the Internet are no longer safe. Any communications should be encrypted by default,” he said. Poynter / MediaWire Snowden is using some of his time in Russia to design “encryption tools to help professionals such as journalists protect sources and data.” Snowden is “negotiating foundation funding for the project.” WSJ / Digits Snowden singled out cloud-storage provider Dropbox for lacking security measures he says would protect users from government snooping. He then plugged smaller competitor SpiderOak, which he says does. Snowden said Dropbox is “hostile to privacy” because it controls the encryption keys, making it capable of handing over user data stored on its servers to the government.
Facebook Testing ‘Buy’ Button (AllFacebook)
It’s hard to come up with a more obvious call to action than “buy,” and Facebook announced Thursday that it is testing a buy call-to-action button with “a few small and midsized businesses in the U.S.” NYT / Bits Additionally, Twitter announced in a blog post on Thursday that it had agreed to acquire CardSpring, a mobile payments infrastructure company that allows merchants to offer deals to consumers that can be loaded onto their credit cards. When the card is used to pay at the store, the coupon is automatically applied.
Fox Affiliate Leaders Assemble for Emergency Meeting (B&C)
Station group leaders, concerned about new affiliation terms set out by Fox, assembled for a hastily scheduled meeting Thursday in Dallas to address the situation. Fox network brass were aware of the meeting, but were not believed to be invited. The meeting was “to discuss a variety of challenges, issues and opportunities,” said Jeff Rosser, Fox affiliates board chairman, in an email to group leaders. Rosser noted “new demands being made by Fox, especially at a time when Fox primetime is down significantly.” TVSpy The meeting reflects concern among station groups about the renewal of affiliation agreements.
White House Broadcast Booker Dag Vega Set to Leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (FishbowlDC)
Dag Vega, special assistant to the president and director of broadcast media at the White House, is set to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the end of next week. Since joining the administration at the start of President Obama’s first term, Vega has managed the cable, Sunday show and morning news appearances of the president and many White House officials. Politico Vega was hired by Dan Pfeiffer in June 2008 as director of surrogate press in the Chicago campaign office and has been with Team Obama ever since. He has finessed celebrity journalists from Barbara Walters to Brian Williams and helped pioneer presidential appearances on late-night shows.
Ernesto Londoño Joins NYT Editorial Board (FishbowlNY)
Ernesto Londoño is joining The New York Times editorial board. He most recently worked for The Washington Post as a Pentagon correspondent. At the Times, Londoño will write about foreign affairs.
The View Knockoff The Talk Wins Female Demo for First Time Ever (Mediaite)
CBS’ women-centric daytime show The Talk won more women viewers last week than the show that inspired it, ABC’s The View, for the first time ever. The Talk launched in the fall of 2010. The View remained on top with total viewers (more than 2.8 million to The Talk’s 2.7 million) but came up roughly 60,000 viewers short among women 25-54 and 3,000 short among women 18-25.
Comments to FCC on Net Neutrality Surpass 1 Million (Variety)
The FCC has received more than 1 million comments to its proposal for rules of the road for the Internet, a.k.a. net neutrality, ranking it among the top issues of public interest before the commission. Comments surpassed 1 million just after noon on Thursday, according to the FCC’s Gigi Sohn. She wrote on Twitter that the number is the most ever for an FCC rulemaking proceeding, “evidence of enormous public interest.” The deadline to file comments with the FCC will be on Friday. After that, the FCC is taking responses to those comments until Sept. 10, with the FCC expected to establish new rules by the end of the year.
Relativity Units, Refinery29 Partner on Digital to TV Development (Deadline Hollywood)
Online media company Refinery29 is partnering with Relativity Television and Relativity’s fashion division, M3/Relativity, to develop Refinery properties for more traditional linear TV outlets, focused on fashion and beauty topics, one of the biggest sectors in online video and other parts of the Web. Under the deal, Relativity’s units will work with Refinery to turn its online content into programming for more traditional TV shows.
Rob Marciano Leaving Entertainment Tonight for ABC News (TVNewser)
Rob Marciano is exiting Entertainment Tonight and returning to the weather beat for ABC News. Marciano will join ABC as senior meteorologist in early September. Marciano spent 10 years at CNN as a meteorologist and weather reporter. He left the network in late 2012 and in January 2013 began co-hosting Entertainment Tonight alongside former local news anchor Nancy O’Dell.
Sinclair Launches College Sports Network (TVSpy)
Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Thursday it’s getting into the sports programming game by launching a collegiate sports initiative called the American Sports Network. The network plans to air its programming on Sinclair’s CW and MyNet stations and has deals with Division I conferences like Conference USA, the Colonial Athletic Association, Big South Conference, Southern Conference and Patriot League.