Morning Media Newsfeed: #FreeAJStaff | AMC’s Earnings Surge | MSNBC Taps Ex-MT Gov.

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Al Jazeera Calls for Global Support of Detained Staff (Al Jazeera America)
Al Jazeera called for a Global Day of Action Thursday to demand the immediate release of four of its journalists who have been locked up in Egypt’s prisons for months. People in more than 30 cities expressed their solidarity and support, with public events taking place in Sydney, Manila, Islamabad, Doha, Amman, Nairobi, Ankara, Berlin, London, Rio, Montreal, Washington and San Francisco. NBC News Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, all journalists from the Qatar-based network, were detained on Dec. 29, 2013, and accused of spreading false news and belonging to a terrorist group. They were scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 21, but the trial was adjourned until March 5. Abdullah Al Shamy was also detained more than six months ago without charge and has been on a hunger strike since Jan. 23. The group had been reporting on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization that took power in the Egypt elections following protests in 2011 but was banned after a violent crackdown. Mashable Al Jazeera staff in newsrooms across the world sent support for the journalists Thursday. The organization encouraged people to include the hashtag #FreeAJStaff in tweets. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media A vigil for the imprisoned journalists was held Thursday afternoon at the Newseum in Washington. Other demonstrations included a plane with a sign flying over Rio de Janeiro with the hashtag. TVNewser Al Jazeera America collected images from demonstrations around the world and posted them to a live blog. Many media outlets around the world have also joined the cause, which has increasingly gained momentum: Last week, an international group of television executives called for the journalists’ release. The protests also gained coverage on other networks: On CBS This Morning Thursday, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reported from London, where protestors in Trafalgar Square released black balloons into the sky as part of the demonstration.

AMC Networks Earnings Soar on Ad-Revenue Growth (WSJ)
AMC Networks Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings surged as the media company posted stronger advertising revenue and fewer debt-related charges. The company reported a profit of $35.4 million, or 49 cents a share, up from $15.2 million, or 21 cents a share, a year earlier. Variety Fourth-quarter revenue rose 18.7 percent, or $69 million, to $435 million, led by a 19.3 percent rise in revenue at the company’s national cable networks, which include IFC, Sundance and We. Revenue at the national networks came to about $404 million. Advertising revenue at those networks rose 31 percent to $205 million. THR Despite these gains, AMC’s adjusted operating cash flow declined amid a $52 million programming write-off. On an earnings conference call, CEO Josh Sapan said that the write-offs came for crime drama Low Winter Sun, which AMC canceled late last year amid weak ratings for its first season, and The Killing, which was canceled after three seasons. Bloomberg Businessweek The company’s sales in the recent quarter surged as advertisers clamored to buy time during broadcasts of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. The midseason premier of The Walking Dead, the No. 1 show on television for adults aged 18 to 49, drew 16 million viewers earlier this month. AMC is particularly thrilled that the show Mad Men and its other hits have only become more popular over time, bucking the trend in television sequel seasons.

Brian Schweitzer Joins MSNBC (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, who recently said he didn’t aspire to be on MSNBC, has joined the liberal cable news channel as a contributor, an MSNBC spokesperson has confirmed. The Associated Press The Democrat’s first appearance in his new role came Wednesday during an appearance on The Ed Show in which he discussed a segment on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Schweitzer is an outspoken proponent of the project to ship oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries, putting him at odds with many Democrats. TVNewser Schweitzer told the Associated Press he will appear once or twice a week from a studio being built in his home, and won’t just be giving Democratic talking points. Mediaite Schweitzer has previously hinted he might run for president in 2016, and despite MSNBC’s reputation as a liberal network, he recently did not have anything to say when asked by MSNBC to name a single positive thing President Obama has done in his time in office.

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