Morning Media Newsfeed: SoftBank Eyes DWA Purchase | Marvel Settles With Kirby Estate

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DreamWorks Animation in Sale Talks With Japan’s SoftBank (THR)
Japanese conglomerate SoftBank is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation in a deal that would value the company at $3.4 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. NYT SoftBank reportedly offered $32 a share for the boutique studio DreamWorks Animation, a 45 percent premium over the share price. That would value it at $3.4 billion. A DreamWorks Animation spokeswoman, Allison Rawlings, on Saturday night said, “We don’t comment on rumor and speculation.” Re/code / Reuters An acquisition of DreamWorks by SoftBank would make the Hollywood studio that created Shrek part of a the communications and media company that, under founder and CEO Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining seemingly unrelated businesses. Two weeks ago, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York. SoftBank retains a 32 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company, making it Alibaba’s biggest shareholder. Deadline Hollywood DreamWorks’ balance sheet had weakened in Q2 with $400 million in debt and $32 million in cash vs. Q2 2011, when it had no debt and $116 million in cash. DreamWorks also disclosed in July that its next two films — The Penguins Of Madagascar and Home — were costing them approximately $10 million more than planned: $135 million not including incentive-based compensation. Variety However, DreamWorks has scored considerably with its fruitful acquisition of AwesomenessTV, a digital network targeting a young online audience — that and its relationship with Netflix likely helped attract the attention of SoftBank. DreamWorks Animation has operated as a publicly traded company since 2004.

Marvel, Jack Kirby Estate Settlement Brings End to High-Stakes Battle (THR / Hollywood, Esq.)
On Friday, Marvel ended a long and bitter feud with the estate of comic book legend Jack Kirby, announcing a settlement just days before the U.S. Supreme Court had scheduled a conference to discuss whether to take up a case with potentially billions on the line. Mashable Kirby died in 1994. In recent years, as Disney bought Marvel and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar film and merchandising franchise, Kirby’s family sought to regain copyright ownership of the characters that he created, including the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the X-Men, the Hulk and the Silver Surfer. Defendants included Disney/Marvel, Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. NYT Financial details were not disclosed. Because of long-term licensing agreements made by Marvel before the Disney purchase, a legal victory for the Kirbys would have touched almost every corner of Hollywood, not just Disney. For example, Sony holds long-term movie rights to Spider-Man; 20th Century Fox has the equivalent for the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Universal Studios holds Florida theme park rights to the Hulk and other characters. The Hollywood guilds and other heirs to the creators of old characters were also watching carefully. Variety Kirby’s heirs had sought to terminate grants of copyrights to the characters, under a clause of the 1976 Copyright Act, but Marvel contended that they continued to own the characters because Kirby was working “for hire.” The latter is an exception to artists and families who seek to terminate grants of copyrights. A federal court sided with Marvel in 2011, and an appellate court upheld the determination that Kirby’s work was “for hire.”

Fall TV Ratings: Broadcast Nets Relieved as Viewers Show Up for Big Premieres (Variety)
One week into the 2014-15 television season, according to Nielsen’s official game clock, the biggest headline for the broadcast nets is that they’ve been able to generate solid sampling for high-priority new shows such as Fox’s Gotham, CBS’ Scorpion, NBC’s The Mysteries of Laura and ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. Deadline Hollywood All three series produced by Shonda Rhimes scoring fast-national demo ratings with a 3 in front of them for ABC Thursday. New drama Murder opened with a bang with a stellar 3.8 in adults 18-49 and 14 million viewers, holding on to 100 percent of its Scandal lead-in and growing 18 percent in total viewers Scandal hit another set of series highs of 3.8 in adults 18-49 and 11.9 million total viewers, and Grey’s Anatomy was solid to collectively deliver ABC’s strongest Thursday performance in five years. Variety At CBS/NFL Network, the Giants-Redskins game averaged a 6.0/19 in 18-49 and 16.29 million viewers overall, winning the night. The primetime average for the networks (5.6/18 in 18-49, 15.40 million viewers overall) is better than CBS itself has done on a premiere week Thursday since 2007. Despite increased competition, NBC’s two-hour The Biggest Loser (1.3/4 in 18-49, 4.5 million viewers overall) matched its week-ago score. It was followed by the final-season premiere of Parenthood (1.4/4 in 18-39, 4.3 million viewers overall), which was down two tenths from its year-ago opener but matched the show’s highest rating since its second episode of last fall.

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Investor Blasts Yahoo! Over Tumblr Strategy, Calls for AOL Merger (Adweek)
Yahoo! is under pressure to merge with AOL as an activist Wall Street fund pushed Friday for big changes at the Internet advertising giant. The hedge fund, Starboard, wrote a letter to Yahoo!’s board with a list of demands to reinvigorate the business. Deadline Hollywood A merger with AOL, the letter said, “could improve Yahoo!’s competitive position, deliver cost synergies of up to $1 billion, and potentially facilitate the realization of value from Yahoo!’s non-core equity stakes with minimal tax leakage.” The letter asks Yahoo! to “do the right thing for shareholders, even if this may mean accepting AOL as the surviving entity in a combination, should that be the best and most tax efficient structure.” Yahoo! shares were up 3.5 percent and AOL was up 4 percent Friday afternoon. THR Yahoo! previously had to deal with activist investor Third Point, a hedge fund headed by Daniel Loeb that sold its stake last year. The letter unveiled Friday, from Starboard managing member Jeffrey Smith to Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, listed “several opportunities to unlock tremendous value for the benefit of all Yahoo! shareholders.” In Nov. 2012, Starboard reported that it had sold its remaining stake in AOL after losing a proxy fight to change the company. Starboard had at one point owned as much as 5.2 percent of AOL.

Ex-BSkyB Exec Named CEO of Combined Endemol-Shine-Core Media (THR)
Former BSkyB content executive Sophie Turner Laing will lead the company to be formed by the combination of 21st Century Fox’s Shine Group, Endemol and Core Media as CEO, the companies said Sunday. The former managing director of content for U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB will lead what will be the world’s largest independent TV producer. Variety Endemol chief executive Just Spee and Shine Group chief executive Alex Mahon are expected to leave their posts, but will remain at their companies until the completion of the merger. The merged entity will be owned 50 percent by 21st Century Fox, and 50 percent by Apollo Global Management. Deadline Hollywood The Shine-Endemol-Core venture was first proposed in mid-May, a few weeks before Turner Laing announced she was stepping down from her position as managing director of content at the 21st Century Fox-controlled BSkyB. She had been with Sky for 11 years and led the expansion of its portfolio of entertainment channels, with the launch of Sky Atlantic, Sky Living and Sky Arts during her tenure. She also was instrumental in Sky’s partnership with HBO and key to Sky’s overall commitment to spending an annual £600 million on original British programming.

Russia Expected to Restrict Foreign Ownership of Media Companies (THR)
A law limiting foreign ownership of Russian media companies to 20 percent stakes on Friday passed its second and third readings in the lower chamber of parliament and is expected to be passed shortly. Swedish TV networks company Modern Times Group, which owns a 38 percent stake in Russian broadcaster CTC Media, said Friday that it was “carefully following” the progress of the planned legislation. HuffPost / Reuters If the parliament’s upper chamber passes the bill and President Vladimir Putin signs it into law, as is expected, the new rules would take effect in 2016, giving media owners until February 2017 to adjust their ownership structure. The law was originally welcomed by the Putin-loyal ruling United Russia party as a measure to protect Russia’s “informational sovereignty.”

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CBS Sunday Morning Has Best Season in More Than 25 Years (TVNewser)
CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood just finished another record year. The venerable 90-minute news and information program averaged 5.79 million viewers — even besting the No. 1 weekday show ABC’s Good Morning America. Sunday Morning was up 6 percent in total viewers compared to the 2012-2013 season, and had its biggest audience since the advent of people meters in the 1987-1988 TV season. The show was on par with last season’s adults 25-54 rating, which was the best delivery since 2009-2010.

TV Ad Prices: Football, Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory Top The List (Variety)
The flesh-eating creatures from AMC’s gory The Walking Dead have started to eat into football’s pricing power. Advertisers are willing to pay more for a package of spots across multiple airings of Dead than they are for a 30-second spot in a broadcast of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The ESPN pigskin showcase was the second most-expensive program for advertisers in last year’s survey, coming in just behind NBC’s Sunday Night Football. This year it ranks No. 4. The average cost of a 30-second ad in Monday Night Football is an eye-popping $397,898, according to Variety analysis, which uses estimates collected from as many as six different media-buying firms as well as other sources. No scripted program on broadcast can top it. Yet the cost of a package on Dead comes to an average of $413,695.

Gregg Jarrett Works His Way Back at Fox News (TVNewser)
Gregg Jarrett penned a piece last week on the issue of sexual assault on America’s college campuses. Jarrett, a weekend anchor of Fox News Channel, has been off the air since the spring when he checked himself into alcohol rehab. Jarrett ended up extending his stay after an incident at the Minneapolis airport which resulted in his arrest. An FNC spokesperson confirmed that Jarrett recently started writing for and said his return to air is “to be determined at this time.”

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Wolf Joins CNN International Lineup (TVNewser)
CNN International will begin simulcasting the 1 p.m. ET CNN/U.S. hour anchored by Wolf Blitzer. Airing at 6 p.m. in London, 7 p.m. in Paris and Berlin, Wolf will begin European primetime. Other upcoming changes include Robyn Curnow taking over anchor duties of the 10 a.m. ET and 12:30 p.m. ET international desk. And starting Sunday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. ET, Michael Holmes and Amara Walker begin anchoring a new morning show, CNN Today, for the Asia-Pacific audience.

Consumer Reports Gets an Overhaul (FishbowlNY)
Consumer Reports will debut a new look — both outside and inside — with its November issue. Gone are the cluttered covers of the past. The revamped Reports features a clean cover that tackles a singular topic, and it’s a big improvement. Inside the magazine, editor-in-chief Ellen Kampinsky and VP/general manager Brent Diamond have added some interesting features.

As U.K. Broadcasters Angle for £200 Million in Retrans Fees, Showdown Looms for BSkyB, Virgin Media (Deadline Hollywood)
Last year, the U.S. broadcast networks collected more than $3 billion in retransmission fees from cable providers. Their U.K. counterparts are taking notice. In recent weeks, the chief executives of Britain’s top commercial broadcasters, ITV and Channel 4, called publicly for cable and satellite operators to start paying for the right to carry their programming. The issue has attracted so much attention that culture secretary Sajid Javid weighed in, saying that he would review it.

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Derek Jeter’s Yankee Stadium Farewell Scores Record-Setting Streams for MLB.TV (Deadline Hollywood)
Major League Baseball’s online streaming service set a viewing record for a single game Thursday night with the New York Yankees captain’s final game in pinstripes — where, in a moment almost too dramatically perfect to believe, he drove in the game-winning run. Fans accessed 641,000 streams, beating by 18 percent the previous one-game regular-season record set on this year’s opening day, March 31.

Hearst Forms New Publishing Services Group (WWD / Memo Pad)
Hearst Magazines wants to help other magazine publishers out — and pump up the productivity of its own operations in the process. The group has formed a publishing service targeting medium to large-sized publishers with titles that have circulations between 300,000 and 1 million. The new group, called Hearst Magazines Publishing Services, will make use of its relationship with CDS Global, a publishing operations firm owned by Hearst, to print and digital services to clients.

Instagram, Chinese Media Restricted as Hong Kong Riots (Variety)
Media in mainland China has limited its coverage of the severe social unrest taking place on the streets of Hong Kong. In contrast, Hong Kong and international media have been carrying non-stop reports from the barricades, reporting as the crowds of protest change shape and police respond with pepper spray and tear gas. LA Times Major state-run news outlets carried only brief mentions of the confrontations, if any, and the subject has been censored off popular mainland-based social media services, including Weibo and Weixin, also known as WeChat.

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