Morning Media Newsfeed: TV Station Mega Merger | Pakistan Censors NYT | Apple Taking on Spotify?

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TV Station Mega Merger: Media General, LIN Set $1.6 Billion Deal (Variety)
Station groups Media General and LIN are poised to merge in a $1.6 billion cash and stock deal that will create the nation’s second-largest pure-play broadcast group. With LIN’s roughly $1 billion in debt included, the deal has an enterprise value of $2.6 billion. TVSpy The deal will bring together 74 stations which are either owned or operated by the two companies in 46 markets. Combined, the new company’s stations will reach 23 percent of U.S. TV households. THR The deal is the latest in the ongoing consolidation of the TV station business as broadcasters have looked for scale to strengthen them in dealings with networks and pay-TV operators and the like. Poynter / MediaWire It is just the latest in a flurry of acquisitions and mergers in the TV industry that has seen Belo broadcast and Gannett merge and earlier, Media General and Young Broadcasting combined forces. Other players including Meredith, Journal, Tribune, NBC Universal and Sinclair have been recent buyers, too. WSJ Greater scale should help the combined company garner higher revenue from fees it charges pay-TV providers to carry its signal, known as retransmission fees. It should also gain leverage in negotiations with media companies. These factors, plus the ability to expand LIN’s digital advertising business and savings from corporate overheard, underpin the companies’ projected $70 million in run-rate synergies over three years.

Pakistan Erases an Entire International New York Times Cover Story (The Verge)
Saturday’s edition of The International New York Times was stripped of its cover story in Pakistan. Instead of seeing a lengthy report on “What Pakistan Knew About bin Laden,” readers were greeted with an enormous section of white space that dominated the paper’s front page. Mediaite In the piece, Carlotta Gall, who has reported from Afghanistan since around 2001, proposes that the Pakistani government not only knew about Osama bin Laden‘s whereabouts for years, but had a desk assigned to handle him. Bloomberg The story was censored by the publisher’s printing partner in that country. The article, a 4,800-word excerpt from a forthcoming book by Gall to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt next month, appeared in The New York Times Magazine in the U.S. and was intended as a front-page article of the International New York Times. While the story appears on most copies of the international edition, it doesn’t show up in papers distributed in Pakistan, about 9,000 copies, according to the publisher. The Times’ Pakistan printer, part of the Express Tribune newspaper in that country, removed the article without its knowledge, according to Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. NYT The partner was recently the subject of an attack by an extremist group, Murphy said. Though the article appeared to have been excised from all copies of the newspaper distributed in Pakistan, the story seemed to be available to Pakistani readers online, Murphy said. Pakistan remains a dangerous place for reporters, with at least 46 killed there in the last decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group.

Apple Mulls Launching Spotify Rival, Android App as Downloads Decline (Billboard)
Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes app for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said. SocialTimes The talks are part of a range of efforts to support the iTunes Store after seeing double-digit declines in U.S. download sales. Other initiatives might include creating exclusive digital versions of album releases that would go on sale ahead of CD releases, promoting more catalog titles and making the store easier to shop. Mashable Such a move on Apple’s part would make sense, considering recent trends. According to a January report from Nielsen, overall U.S. music sales are down by 6.3 percent, but music-streaming services have grown by 32 percent since 2012. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry released on Tuesday a report that said global revenues from subscription- and advertising-supported streams are now responsible for 27 percent of digital revenues, a 14 percent increase from 2011. GigaOM Apple made a first step towards music services when it launched iTunes Radio last year, but a paid subscription service would go significantly further. The idea that Apple would build an Android app for iTunes seems just as controversial. Sure, Apple did bring iTunes to Windows, but that move was largely meant to increase iPad and iPhone sales. An Android app wouldn’t have such a clear purpose, and be more of an admission that around the world, Android handset sales have been stronger than iPhone sales.