Morning Media Newsfeed: Aereo Files for Bankruptcy | MSNBC Hires Ex-WH Staffer

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Aereo Files for Bankruptcy (TVSpy)
With a post on the company’s blog Friday morning, Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia announced the company had filed for bankruptcy protection. THR The digital TV service, which broadcast network owners battled in courts for offering access to broadcast TV signals via digital devices, made a voluntary Chapter 11 filing, it said in the statement. “We encountered significant challenges from the incumbent media companies,” said Kanojia in the statement. Mashable Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is typically expensive and allows for the company to restructure its debt. While filing for bankruptcy does not necessarily mean the end of the business, Kanojia struck a tone in a statement on Aereo’s website that insinuated the company was done. Variety New York-based Aereo had raised about $97 million, from investors including IAC chairman Barry Diller, media investor Gordon Crawford, Himalaya Capital Management, Highland Capital Partners and FirstMark Capital. Earlier this month Aereo laid off a majority of its staff, including employees in New York and Boston. The company said a small executive team of about a dozen people would remain. GigaOM Aereo’s bankruptcy petition shows it owes roughly $2 million to a list of creditors that include Internet companies like Level 3 and Google, as well as several law firms. But the most significant creditors on the list are names like ABC and Fox, the TV networks that are continuing to sue Aereo over copyright infringement. Aereo’s filing simply states “unknown” in the amount owed to the “litigation party” TV stations, which also include PBS, Telemundo and NBC.

MSNBC Names Former White House Staffer as VP of Communications (PRNewser)
Friday, MSNBC announced the hiring of Rachel Racusen as its new VP of communications. Racusen, who will handle comms and media strategy while partnering with editorial and business leads at the network, will also serve as MSNBC’s primary spokesperson moving forward. TVNewser Racusen joins the network from the White House, where she has been associate communications director. Prior to that, Racusen was deputy communications director for President Obama’s re-election campaign. FishbowlDC Beginning Dec. 8, Racusen will replace Lauren Skowronski, who was promoted to VP of corporate communications at NBCUniversal in July. Mediaite According to MSNBC’s press release, during her White House tenure, Racusen “played a key role in devising press strategies for the President’s domestic events and major policy announcements, including the State of The Union address, Climate Action Plan, the White House Working Families Summit, the economic agenda, and in responding to the situation in Ferguson and the Ebola crisis.” She was also reportedly part of the crisis management team during the troubled rollout and the subsequent effort to get Americans enrolled under the health care law.

Ex-NBC Employee Claims Bill Cosby Paid Off Women (New York Daily News)
Veteran NBC employee Frank Scotti says he helped Bill Cosby deliver thousands of dollars to eight different women in 1989-90 — including Shawn Thompson, whose daughter Autumn Jackson claimed the actor was her dad. THR Cosby, who has faced a string of decades-old sexual abuse allegations in recent weeks, denied the paternity claim. Scotti worked as a facilities manager at the Brooklyn studio where The Cosby Show was filmed. Scotti, who saved copies of the money orders to four women, believes that Cosby was sleeping with all the women who were getting money. Variety One woman whose name is on the receipts reached out to the Daily News and said the payments funded her son’s private school tuition. Scotti is confident that he was sexually involved with the women receiving payments, and came forward now because he “felt sorry for the women.” NBC declined comment on the story. Mediaite Cosby been very tight-lipped about the allegations of rape and sexual assault against him (though he did briefly make light of how people are demonizing him in a show last week), but in an interview Friday night, he took offense at people trying to get him to “answer to innuendos.”

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CNN, HLN Back on Dish Network (TVNewser)
Dish Network and Turner Broadcasting have mutually decided to restore service of CNN, HLN and six other networks that were pulled from the satellite service a month ago. Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, CNN en Espanol and Boomerang are also back on Dish. THR The two companies announced they had resumed negotiations in the carriage dispute on Friday morning, issuing a joint statement and adding that neither would have any further comment on the matter. Variety The restoration of Turner channels comes a day after Dish set a five-day extension with CBS designed to prevent a blackout of the Eye’s O&O stations in 17 markets. The extension with Turner puts all of the channels on the same timetable. The late-March timing will also come just as TNT, TBS and truTV are serving up the last rounds of the NCAA’s March Madness men’s basketball championship, which means a disruption in service would be bad PR for Dish.

On Cable, FNC Is Most-Watched for Obama Immigration Remarks (TVNewser)
Roughly 4.3 million viewers tuned in to Fox News Thursday night for President Obama’s remarks on his immigration executive action, more than MSNBC and CNN combined. FNC drew 958,000 in the adults 25-54 demo, again more than CNN and MSNBC combined. Variety Fox News continued to cover the news story on The O’Reilly Factor (4.15 million viewers overall), which drew its largest adults 25-54 audience (885,000) in nearly a year, and at 9 p.m. with The Kelly File (3.20 million viewers overall), whose demo total (708,000) is its second biggest to date. TVNewser The remarks drew 6.85 million viewers on two Spanish-language U.S. TV networks, according to Nielsen overnight time-period data. With 5.055 million viewers, Univision saw a 49 percent increase in viewership from Wednesday’s 8 p.m. half hour, while NBCU-owned Telemundo’s 1.8 million viewers was a jump of 38 percent from the night earlier.

James Murdoch, Chase Carey Re-Elected to Sky Board (THR)
Shareholders of European pay TV‎ giant Sky on Friday approved the company’s name change, from BSkyB previously, after its recent acquisitions of Sky Italy and a stake of nearly 90 percent in Sky Deutschland. Variety The shareholders also voted to reappoint James Murdoch as a director of the company. The votes at the annual general meeting of Sky in London were 95.65 percent in his favor and 4.35 percent against. Deadline He had faced a protest earlier in the week in the form of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. The investment group, which owns approximately 2 percent of Sky shares, had raised its strong objections to his re-election on account of his ties to the hacking scandal that rocked the News of The World and also questioned his conflict of interest given his role as co-chief operating office at 21st Century Fox, which owns a 39 percent stake in Sky. Murdoch has been on the Sky board since 2003, and was formerly its chief executive and then its chairman.

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CNN to Announce New Bill Weir Show Monday (TVNewser)
Bill Weir told his former colleagues at WGN in Chicago Friday morning that he will soon have a new show on CNN. Weir said CNN will be revealing details about the new show Monday. CNN Commentary The show will be called The Last Chance Diaries. It already has a Twitter account. Weir and his team have filmed in “places like the Greek Islands, the Dead Sea, the Galapagos, India and Vanuat.” CNN senior producer Cassius Michael Kim accompanied Weir to the various locations. Kim previously was the producer and director of This Could Be Big at ABC News, a series presented by Weir.

Nexstar Buying KLAS Las Vegas for $145 Million (TVNewsCheck)
Nexstar Broadcasting Group has agreed to buy CBS affiliate KLAS Las Vegas (DMA 41) from Landmark Media Enterprises for $145 million plus working capital. TVSpy Nexstar’s purchase will expand the company’s reach to 110 stations, serving 58 markets in 23 states. That’s 18 percent of all U.S. households. The acquisition has to be approved by the FCC and is expected to close in the first half of 2015.

Pro-Independence Daily Paper The National to Launch in Scotland (The Guardian)
Scotland is to get a new newspaper, The National, which will be the first Scottish daily to support independence. The title is being launched on Monday by the Newsquest-owned Herald and Times group. The tabloid, whose banner will say “The newspaper that supports an independent Scotland,” will be priced at 50p, run to 32 pages and have a print run of about 50,000. Poynter / Top Stories The Sunday Herald was the only Scottish paper to support independence, and it saw sales go up dramatically in the run-up to the country’s ultimately doomed referendum.

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We Need to Talk Heads to Broadcast TV (TVNewser)
CBS Sports’ all-female weekly sports show We Need to Talk will move from the CBS Sports Network to CBS for a year-end special on Saturday, Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. ET. The special will be the broadcast debut of the show which premiered back in September.

SVP Alternative Among Eliminated Positions at CW (Deadline)
The sweeping Time Warner layoffs have reached the CW. The network’s SVP, alternative programming Kristen Connolly Vadas is exiting the network as her position is being eliminated, one of several being cut. None of the others are in programming. The cuts are part of the ongoing layoffs at Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Entertainment, which co-owns the CW with CBS.

SundanceTV’s Sarah Barnett to Run BBC America, Perry Simon Signs Production Deal (THR)
The new regime is starting at BBC America. AMC Networks, which bought nearly a 50 percent stake in the cable channel in October, announced Friday that Sarah Barnett has been named president and general manager. The SundanceTV topper will assume leadership of both networks in early 2015 — though her role at SundanceTV will be an interim one during the search for her successor.

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Seventeen Magazine Cuts Four From Masthead (WWD / Memo Pad)
Hearst’s Seventeen is experiencing some growing pains under its new editorial leadership. Four were cut from the teen magazine’s masthead two weeks ago. They include managing editor Jo Ann Liguori, fashion market editor Jasmine Snow, beauty director Yesenia Almonte and fashion assistant Rachel Lowe.

Andy Coulson Released From Prison (THR)
Andy Coulson, the former News of The World editor and former communications chief of British Prime Minister David Cameron, was released from prison on Friday. He served less than five months after getting an 18-month sentence for having been found guilty on one count during the phone-hacking trial.

British Hostage John Cantlie Says He Will Likely Be Executed in New ISIS Video (HuffPost)
The Islamic State group released a new video on Friday in which British hostage John Cantlie reveals that he believes he too will soon be executed like his former cellmates.

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