Morning Media Newsfeed: Bob Simon Killed | Malone Joins Lionsgate Board

60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon killed in car crash. John Malone takes seat on Lionsgate board. These stories and more in today's Morning Media Newsfeed

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Bob Simon, 60 Minutes Correspondent, Killed in Crash on West Side Highway (New York Daily News)
60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon was killed in a car crash on the West Side Highway in Manhattan on Wednesday night, sources said. The 73-year-old reporter was a passenger in a livery cab traveling south on 12th Avenue at W. 30th Street when it rear-ended a Mercedes-Benz driven by a 23-year-old man and then slammed into a median around 6:45 p.m., a police source said. TVNewser Simon reported for 60 Minutes this past weekend profiling Selma director Ava DuVernay. Mediaite Simon, who joined the network in 1967, was a longtime correspondent for 60 Minutes whose career spanned more than five decades. In 1991, while covering the Gulf War in Iraq, he was captured and imprisoned for 40 days. THR Simon won 27 Emmys for covering major stories including The Vietnam War, violence in Northern Ireland from 1969-1971, The Gulf War and The Olympics. In 1991, he spent 40 days in an Iraqi prison alongside three other members of the CBS News team, and turned the experience into the 1992 book Forty Days. Variety The New York native worked at 60 Minutes for nearly 20 years, where he won a total of six Emmy awards, most recently in 2012 for his work on the segment “Joy in The Congo.” Simon also won a Peabody award for international reporting on CBS News.

John Malone Takes Stake, Board Seat at Lionsgate (NYT / DealBook)
John C. Malone rarely strikes straightforward transactions. And his deal to take a seat on the board of the film studio Lionsgate is no exception. Lionsgate announced on Wednesday that Malone, the billionaire who controls the Liberty empire of media and telecommunications businesses, would swap stock in the Starz cable channel for Lionsgate shares and a board seat. THR Lionsgate unveiled a stock exchange deal with affiliates of Malone that will see the mini-studio exchange 3.43 percent of its common stock for 4.51 percent of stock in Starz. Lionsgate’s stake will carry 14.5 percent of the voting power at Starz. Malone will remain Starz’s largest voting shareholder, holding around 6.1 percent of equity and around 32.1 percent of the voting power. Variety It’s possible that Malone could end up making a play for Lionsgate or the studio behind The Hunger Games and Divergent could try to take control of Starz, a collection of 13 cable channels. Both possibilities have been speculated about for some time, although analysts caution that the media companies are still just dating. Deadline The terms suggest that Lionsgate puts a $140 million price on its 4.5 percent of Starz, Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil says. “At first blush, this deal likely bodes well for Lionsgate’s TV production segment as Starz has been ramping up its original programming slate,” he says. Lionsgate shares surged 7.4 percent Wednesday morning, with Starz up 3.4 percent.

Netflix Pulls House of Cards Season 3 After Leak (THR)
The third season of House of Cards debuted early on Netflix Wednesday afternoon, becoming fully available for viewing, but was pulled minutes later. Variety A spokesman for Netflix called it a technical error. “Due to a technical glitch some Underwood fans got a sneak peak,” Cliff Edwards told Variety. “He’ll be back on Netflix on Feb 27. #no spoilers.” In a tongue-in-cheek tweet, the House of Cards Twitter handle characterized the upload as a “leak”: “This is Washington. There’s always a leak. All 13 episodes will launch Feb. 27.” Deadline According to user accounts, 10 episodes from Season 3 briefly were made available. The number of episodes created confusion, prompting Netflix to tweet that the new season will consist of 13 episodes. Mashable “President Underwood fights to secure his legacy,” Netflix says in the new season’s description. “Claire wants more than being First Lady. The biggest threat they face is contending with each other.”

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Time Warner Earnings Beat Estimates, Dividend Increases (Variety)
A decline in home entertainment sales at Time Warner’s studio division, Warner Bros., pushed earnings and revenue at the media giant down slightly to end 2014, even as HBO and Turner continued to be the main engines driving the entertainment company. WSJ Time Warner reported a 1 percent drop in revenue for the December quarter as declines at its Warner Bros. studio offset increases at its Home Box Office and Turner Broadcasting cable businesses. Revenue at the Turner unit, which houses TNT, TBS and CNN, increased 2 percent to $2.6 billion due to gains from subscription fees and content. Advertising revenue, though, fell 1 percent because of declines in audience and fewer Major League Baseball playoff games. Time Warner on Wednesday raised its quarterly dividend by 10 percent to 35 cents. THR Time Warner plans to boost its annual spending on content to $19 billion “over the next few years,” chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said Wednesday. He told the entertainment conglomerate’s earnings conference call that the company spent $14.5 billion in 2014 on content production, programming and marketing. That would mean content spending would rise 30 percent over the coming years.

Twitter Acquires Niche, A Platform for Vine Video Creators (SocialTimes)
Twitter announced Wednesday that it has acquired Niche, a discovery platform of content creators on Vine (also owned by Twitter). THR Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reports peg the deal at more than $30 million. Niche was founded in 2013 to work with the growing number of content creators on Twitter-owned Vine and other platforms, such as Instagram. As of last summer, Niche was working with 3,000 social media accounts that reached 500 million followers. Today, the company has doubled in growth to more than 6,000 accounts and 100 brand advertisers. Re/code This move means that Twitter is now the owner of a social media talent agency. And that means it can tap a revenue stream it wasn’t previously participating in — both on its properties and on other social services like Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram.

NBC Nightly News Removes Brian Williams’ Name (TVNewser)
“From NBC News world headquarters in New York, this is NBC Nightly News. Reporting tonight, Lester Holt.” So began the first night of Brian Williams‘ six-month suspension away from the NBC newscast he has led for more than a decade. The narration and graphics were scrubbed of Williams’ name, as was the set itself. Wednesday night, even the Nightly News website and Twitter account had been edited to remove Williams’ name and image. Mediaite About halfway through Wednesday’s broadcast, Holt followed a piece about snow in Boston by saying, “Now to the story many of you are talking about tonight and one that not only hits close to home but in our home. He went on to announce Williams’ suspension and read statements from NBC News president Deborah Turness and NBC Universal chairman Steve Burke, before offering some thoughts of his own. “If I may, on a personal note say, it’s an enormously difficult story to report,” Holt said. “Brian is a member of our family, but so are you, our viewers. We will work every night to be worthy of your trust.”

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Dashiell Bennett Joins Bloomberg (FishbowlNY)
Bloomberg continues to add to its markets team with the hiring of Dashiell Bennett. He most recently worked as news editor of The Atlantic, and he’ll retain the same role at Bloomberg Media. FishbowlDC Since his hiring back in October, Joe Weisenthal has continued to build his Bloomberg team with the recent hire of Tracy Alloway from the Financial Times, who will serve as executive editor of Bloomberg Media’s markets coverage.

Pages From USA Today to Appear in Other Papers (WSJ)
Gannett Co. on Thursday will announce deals to insert content from USA Today, its flagship newspaper, into a range of small and midsize publications owned by other newspaper groups, an arrangement meant to help both sides boost circulation revenue and attract new advertisers. FishbowlNY For more than a year, Gannett has been inserting content from USA Today into 35 of its other newspapers. It is partnering with nine additional outside outlets and chains, including New Jersey newspaper the Record.

Sky Shares Fall After Premier League Soccer Rights Deal (Deadline)
Sky shares have dropped about 2.5 percent after London’s stock market reacted negatively to news that Sky paid $6.4 billion (£4.2 billion) for five of the seven Premier League TV packages. Conversely, shares in BT — which acquired the other two packages for $1.46 billion (£960 million) — rose more than 2.8 percent. THR Sky got rights to 126 matches per season for $6.37 billion over three years starting with the 2016/2017 season, up 83 percent from $3.55 billion in the previous deal.

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Ex-CBS Hoops Analyst to Have Solicitation Charge Dropped (TVNewser)
Former CBS basketball analyst Greg Anthony will have the charge against him, soliciting a prostitute, dropped if he performs 32 hours of community service and stays clean for four months.

AOL Posts Gains in 2014 (FishbowlNY)
AOL has released its fourth quarter and year-end earnings report. The company — which has been forging ahead with programmatic advertising in an effort to boost ad revenue — had some things to celebrate. Total revenue was up 9 percent compared to 2013, with a 5 percent jump in Q4 alone. Revenue at AOL Platforms, which includes programmatic advertising, was up 20 percent year over year.

Mic Investigates Possible Plagiarism by News Director Jared Keller (Capital New York)
Millennial-focused news site Mic has launched an internal investigation into possible plagiarism by news editor Jared Keller, Mic spokesman James Allen said in a statement. The investigation comes after Gawker’s J.K. Trotter identified and published 20 examples of apparent plagiarism by Keller.

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Vice Names New EIC, Head of Content (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Vice Media has named a new editor-in-chief of the magazine and a new global head of content. Ellis Jones has been named Vice Magazine’s editor-in-chief, replacing Rocco Castoro, who has resigned from the company. Jones, the first female EIC in Vice‘s 20-year history, has effectively been serving in that role for six months.

Discovery Communications, Cablevision Renew Carriage Deal (THR)
Discovery Communications and cable operator Cablevision Systems have renewed their networks’ carriage agreement. The agreement covers Discovery’s full portfolio of networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Investigation Discovery, Science, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Destination America.

HBO Online Service Will Launch in 2015, Priced as Premium Product (Variety)
HBO will launch its highly anticipated standalone digital service later this year, but the premium cabler remains tightlipped about what programs it will offer and how much it will cost. “It’s a premium product and it will be priced accordingly,” HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler said during a call with analysts on Wednesday.

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