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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Atlantic Media Exec to Become Time Inc. Exec (The Washington Post / Erik Wemple)
It was announced Thursday that Scott Havens, president of The Atlantic, is jumping to Time Inc., where he’ll serve as senior vice president, digital. In that capacity, he’ll be overseeing the digital development of People, Time, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, CNNMoney, Money, Golf, SI for Kids and Time for Kids. FishbowlNY Havens had been with The Atlantic since 2009; he was named president of the magazine in 2012. In a memo to staffers, Atlantic Media’s CEO David Bradley said that the move came as a surprise, but Havens was more than qualified to take on the Time Inc. role. FishbowlDC “Somewhat to my surprise, and I think to his, Scott Havens has decided to return to New York to accept a (huge) appointment with the new Time Inc. — the (soon-to-be) Time Warner spin-off of its great and iconic magazine brands,” Bradley wrote. Havens will stay on at The Atlantic until the end of March.

Discovery Communications Shakes Up Leadership for Its U.S. Networks (The Wrap)
Discovery Communications has re-aligned the leadership for its portfolio of U.S. networks, dividing the portfolio among its group presidents. The redistribution is intended to “build on the company’s strong ratings momentum, [increase] investment in original content and to create a more complementary set of portfolio groups overall,” Discovery said in a press release Thursday. THR Eileen O’Neill, Discovery Communications group president, who oversaw Discovery Channel and TLC, will now be in charge of Discovery Channel, Science Channel and Velocity. Group president Marjorie Kaplan will continue to oversee Animal Planet, while adding TLC under her purview. Additionally, group president Henry Schleiff will add Discovery Fit and Health to his responsibilities, which already include oversight over Investigation Discovery, Destination America and American Heroes Channel. Variety Discovery said the current leadership of each channel would remain in place. Debbie Myers, general manager of Science Channel, and Bob Scanlon, general manager of Velocity, will now report to O’Neill, while Nancy Daniels, general manager of TLC, will report to Kaplan.

Rosie O’Donnell Would ‘Love’ CNN 9 P.M. Slot, But Denies She’s Being Considered (TVNewser)
Former View co-host Rosie O’Donnell took to Twitter Thursday morning to deny rumors from a NY Daily News report that she’s on CNN’s short-list to replace the recently canceled Piers Morgan at 9 p.m. ET. New York Daily News “O’Donnell is at the top; the rest are Joy Behar, Ann Curry, Anthony Bourdain, David Muir, Star Jones, Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow,” a person with knowledge of the list told the Daily News. “Most of the people that are being considered are ones that either create news, are going to make news or have rated really high on television in the past.” HuffPost O’Donnell’s tweet read, “although I would love to do that show — the story is not true — if there is a list I am not on it.” She last anchored The Rosie Show, which was canceled in 2012, on the Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.

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ProPublica Launches Data Store, With Prices Ranging From Free to $10,000 (GigaOM)
Investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica is known for its data-driven reporting, and now the site is trying to find a new life (and revenue stream) for the data it uses in its stories. On Wednesday, ProPublica opened its Data Store, where it gives away or sells the data that its reporters use in their stories. 10,000 Words The store allows news organizations and individual reporters to “shop” for research that ProPublica has either been given access to by the federal government through FOI requests or data resources gathered by ProPublica’s internal team. Some information will be available for free, but for the datasets that the investigative journalism provider has collected as a “result of significant expenditures of time and effort,” ProPublica will impose a one-time fee: $200 for journalists and $2,000 for academic researchers.

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