Morning Media Newsfeed: Shareholders OK DirecTV Sale | FAA Allows Drones for Film

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DirecTV Shareholders Approve $48.5 Billion Sale to AT&T (THR)
At a special meeting in New York on Thursday, DirecTV shareholders gave the company the go-ahead to sell its satellite business to AT&T in a deal valued at $48.5 billion. Reuters The deal, currently under review by U.S. and international regulators, was approved by 99 percent of votes cast, the company said in a statement. The votes cast represent 77 percent of shares outstanding. Bloomberg DirecTV CEO Mike White reiterated Thursday that he expects to reach a deal by the end of the year with the NFL over rights to air the Sunday Ticket package — an important milestone as the AT&T transaction is contingent on that contract being extended. WSJ The deal comes as the communications landscape transforms with people relying more on Internet-connected devices for entertainment and media consumption. Earlier this year, Comcast Corp. agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion. The companies agreed to the merger after considering a deal for a few years. It is AT&T’s biggest acquisition since its $85 billion deal to buy BellSouth in 2006. The Hill Along with Comcast’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable, the AT&T-DirecTV merger is the second major media deal before federal regulators this year. AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV has raised less opposition than the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, though some critics on the left have raised concerns that it represents a growing consolidation of major media companies. The two media companies have said that their merger is a matter of marketplace necessity.

Filmmakers Get Permission to Use Drones in U.S. (Variety)
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on Thursday that it will allow the restricted use of unmanned aircraft, or drones, on movie and TV locations. Deadline Hollywood Unmanned aerial cameras are legal elsewhere in the world, but have been prohibited for commercial use in the U.S. until now. As of now, only six aerial photo companies have been granted permission to use camera drones on film and TV productions, although the permitting model established by the MPAA that was approved by the FAA and the Department of Transportation opens the door for many others to follow suit. ABC News / AP The FAA permits come with limitations, including that the unmanned aircraft be used only in a restricted area, that they be flown under 400 feet in altitude and that flights last no more than 30 minutes at a time. Nighttime flights are prohibited, and reality television shows or other unscripted events won’t qualify for the permits. Bloomberg They will be “blazing a trail” toward approvals for drone use in agriculture, industrial inspections and other uses, U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. Other companies that have applied for exemptions to fly drones in the U.S. include Amazon.com and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s BNSF Railway Co., according to the FAA.

Good Morning America Wins Second Straight Season (TVNewser)
Despite losing two anchors in the last year, ABC’s Good Morning America won its second straight season and added viewers in the process. The ABC morning broadcast improved most where in counts: in the adults 25-54 news demo growing 7 percent vs. the 2012-2013 season. GMA was also up 4 percent in total viewers. Deadline Hollywood GMA clocked an average of 5.566 million viewers and 2.117 million news demo viewers — besting Today’s 4.871 million overall viewers and 1.966 million demo viewers for NBC, and CBS This Morning’s 3.025 million and 973,000, respectively. Variety ABC drew its largest overall audience in 22 years, and for CBS this marked its largest morning-show audience in 20 years. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, ABC opened up a little more room on Today, with the former rising to 2.117 million (an eight-year high) and the latter gaining 4 percent to average 1.966 million. Third-place CBS This Morning dipped 3 percent (973,000 vs. 998,000). Although news programs are generally tracked by the 25-54 demo, it’s interesting to note that Today remains the timeslot leader among adults 18-49, a category it has won for 22 consecutive seasons. TVNewser In addition to winning the season, GMA also wins the week and the just-finished third quarter. But only CBS This Morning grew among total viewers compared to Q3 2013. The CBS morning show was up 5 percent in viewers, but down 4 percent in the adults 25-54 demo.