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About-face at Chequers

President Donald Trump appeared to describe the exclusive interview he gave to the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun newspaper as "fake news" at a joint news conference Friday with British Prime Minster Theresa May at her Chequers country residence.

The Sun's front-page interview, published Thursday, was timed for maximum embarassment for May and included fierce criticism by Trump of how she has negotiated Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, and praise for Boris Johnson, her recently departed foreign secretary and one of her chief political rivals, as a potentially "great prime minister."

May’s plan “will definitely affect trade with the United States, unfortunately in a negative way," Trump told The Sun, adding it "would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.” He also noted: “I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree. She didn’t listen to me.”

At the joint news conference Friday, it was an entirely different side of Trump. BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg got the first question and wasted no time calling out the disconnect between The Sun interview and Trump's praise of May in advance of taking questions from reporters. "You seem, rather, to have changed your tune," Kuenssberg said. "Is this the behavior of a friend?" Here's the full exchange

Trump shot back, "I didn't criticize the prime minister,” adding that he had made lots of positive comments in the interview about May, too, and there was a tape to prove it. "It's called fake news," he said.  He also added that May could do what she wants with Europe and that "it's OK with me."

Trump delivered a stinging rebuke of CNN when its reporter Jim Acosta tried to ask a question. "CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN,” Trump said before turning to Fox News. A CNN network insider noted that Trump had taken a question the day before from its White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond. 

NBC News also came in for arrows after White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked about Trump's comments on NATO. Trump described NBC News as “possibly worse than CNN.” NBC’s Ken Dilanian came to Welker’s defense with a tweet noting that she had asked a fact-based question. 

The president of the White House Correspondents' Association, Margaret Talev, issued a rare rebuke of the president on Twitter  on Friday and praised The Sun for releasing the full audio of the Trump interview. 

"In response to the president lashing out at NBC, CNN and The Sun: Asking smart, tough questions, whether in a presidential press conference or interview, is central to the role a free press plays  in a healthy republic," Talev said.

"Given that the president took a question from a CNN reporter in his NATO news conference just a day earlier, maybe he was letting off steam today rather than expressing an official stance toward a news organization's ability to report,  but saying a news organization isn't real doesn't change the facts and won't stop us from doing our jobs. We appreciate The Sun for posting the entire audio of their interview so that everyone can hear the president's remarks for themselves."

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About-face at Chequers

President Donald Trump appeared to describe the exclusive interview he gave to the Rupert Murdoch-owned The Sun newspaper as "fake news" at a joint news conference Friday with British Prime Minster Theresa May at her Chequers country residence.

The Sun's front-page interview, published Thursday, was timed for maximum embarassment for May and included fierce criticism by Trump of how she has negotiated Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, and praise for Boris Johnson, her recently departed foreign secretary and one of her chief political rivals, as a potentially "great prime minister."

May’s plan “will definitely affect trade with the United States, unfortunately in a negative way," Trump told The Sun, adding it "would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.” He also noted: “I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn’t agree. She didn’t listen to me.”

At the joint news conference Friday, it was an entirely different side of Trump. BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg got the first question and wasted no time calling out the disconnect between The Sun interview and Trump's praise of May in advance of taking questions from reporters. "You seem, rather, to have changed your tune," Kuenssberg said. "Is this the behavior of a friend?" Here's the full exchange

Trump shot back, "I didn't criticize the prime minister,” adding that he had made lots of positive comments in the interview about May, too, and there was a tape to prove it. "It's called fake news," he said.  He also added that May could do what she wants with Europe and that "it's OK with me."

Trump delivered a stinging rebuke of CNN when its reporter Jim Acosta tried to ask a question. "CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN,” Trump said before turning to Fox News. A CNN network insider noted that Trump had taken a question the day before from its White House reporter, Jeremy Diamond. 

NBC News also came in for arrows after White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked about Trump's comments on NATO. Trump described NBC News as “possibly worse than CNN.” NBC’s Ken Dilanian came to Welker’s defense with a tweet noting that she had asked a fact-based question. 

The president of the White House Correspondents' Association, Margaret Talev, issued a rare rebuke of the president on Twitter  on Friday and praised The Sun for releasing the full audio of the Trump interview. 

"In response to the president lashing out at NBC, CNN and The Sun: Asking smart, tough questions, whether in a presidential press conference or interview, is central to the role a free press plays  in a healthy republic," Talev said.

"Given that the president took a question from a CNN reporter in his NATO news conference just a day earlier, maybe he was letting off steam today rather than expressing an official stance toward a news organization's ability to report,  but saying a news organization isn't real doesn't change the facts and won't stop us from doing our jobs. We appreciate The Sun for posting the entire audio of their interview so that everyone can hear the president's remarks for themselves."

Kylie Jenner on track to be youngest self-made billionaire

Forbes has a jaw-dropping cover this month.

It has finally discovered who and what sells in print. While the kings of social media ponder their future in Sun Valley, Kylie Jenner has leveraged their platforms to establish a $900 million cosmetics business.

Kylie, 20, who is no stranger to selling, said thanks on Twitter and added the hashtag #kyliecosmetics.  She's on track to becoming the youngest self-made billionaire in history. Gulp.

Here's her line if you want to see what her business is all about. "Social media is an amazing platform," she tells the magazine. Kim Kardashian West is worth a conservative $350 million.  

What's so great about Sky?

If you've ever watched the poker movie "The Sting," starring Paul Newman, you'll be familiar with the intensity of the high stakes game being played by Comcast, the owner of NBCUniversal (parent company of NBC News) and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.

Both are vying to acquire U.K. satellite TV service Sky. Fox, which already owns 39 percent of the company, is set to flip it to Disney as part of a wider sale of assets.

Fox just submitted a new, higher offer, and Comcast is expected to top it, making Sky shareholders very happy. Separately, Comcast is less likely to make another counter bid for the main prize of Fox's cable TV and movie assets, according to CNBC's David Faber.

But why do they want to buy Sky so much? 

Not so long ago, smart people on Wall Street wondered why anybody would want it at all: it remains a satellite broadcaster in a world moving to embrace internet-delivered content.

Still, Sky has a few things going for it, as one savvy London cab driver told Brian Roberts, the chief executive of Comcast.  Sky's competition is Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global, and BT, a telecom company.

Here's why they're bidding:

  • Sky grew subscribers in its latest quarter through April. In a tough U.K. environment, the firm added 38,000 customers, though it lost 30,000 in Germany and Austria and a few more in Italy.
  • Not only does it own a major package of English Premier League games, it also paid less than previous deals for them as part of a long-term package.
  • Sky has movie relationships with Universal (owned by Comcast), Disney and AT&T's HBO.
  • It also has a broadband-delivered service for Sky customers who can't put a satellite dish on the roof.  

If Comcast wins, it will become the biggest pay-TV provider in the world with a total of 52 million customer relationships. It will also have an important U.K. lynchpin for NBC News, as it plans to transform Euronews into a global news service if it gets to add Sky News.

If the Fox/Disney deal goes through, Disney gets into the direct-to-consumer business in a big way.

Here's the FT's latest on the bidding war with Comcast pondering its next move after a GBP 24.5 billion ($32.3 billion) bid from Fox for Sky. Check out the FT's amusing photograph of Rupert and his wife Jerry from the Allen & Cos. Sun Valley conference.

Oprah's getting into the restaurant business

Oprah might not be running for president, but she’s placing more financial bets beyond TV and film to grow her empire. 

Winfrey, who made Vogue UK’s August cover, is getting into the restaurant business with an investment in Phoenix-based True Food Kitchen, which serves healthy food such as fish tacos. The company says its dishes mean to be anti-inflammatory. 

True Food Kitchen CEO Christine Barone told Advertising Age the company plans “to double in size over the next three years. We will be opening up a significant number of restaurants and really do need financing to help fund that growth.”

Oprah will join the company board.  

The “60 Minutes” correspondent also has an investment in Weight Watchers and a line of pre-made food with Kraft Heinz. Weight Watchers reported a 24 percent increase in revenue in the quarter through March. 

Winfrey has been in the spotlight lately. In June, she signed a content development partnership with Apple for new shows in addition to her existing long-term deal with Discovery Communications, which houses her OWN cable network and website.

Meanwhile Hearst’s “O, The Oprah Magazine,” ranked as 50th in terms of magazine audience with a total of 12 million people in May, according to the Association of Magazine Media. 

Martin Sorrell's plan to build a digital ad business has officially begun

Round one goes to Martin Sorrell and his new company, S4 Capital.

Sorrell, the former WPP Group chief executive, just agreed to acquire Dutch digital production company MediaMonks for about $353 million. The two companies are looking to build a futuristic ad business for the digital age by embracing creative ideas, experiences and media buying.

Sorrell's former employer, the advertising giant WPP, was also looking to acquire the company, and Sky News reports that Sorrell and WPP are at loggerheads over the purchase. Sorrell left the company after a blow-up with WPP's board, which had led an investigation against him. 

What's so special about a digital production company in Northern Holland you might ask? The firm's client list, which includes Netflix, Google, Twitter and Amazon.

In a filing about the acquisition, the two firms outlined a vision for building a digital media-buying platform and that the combined company will have 750 staff.

The Drum has a video of some of the futuristic work MediaMonks did for Audi. It's impressive.

Update: WPP Group didn't waste any time in making sure Martin Sorrell knows where they stand.

The company shared this statement with the media on Tuesday: “WPP’s lawyers wrote to Sir Martin’s lawyers last week pointing out the breach of his confidentiality undertakings in his approach to Mediamonks after his resignation from WPP. Despite subsequent protestations from Sir Martin’s lawyers, we are well aware of the facts and he has jeopardised his LTIP entitlement."

 

HBO's new owner doesn't sound very hands off

John Stankey, the new boss at AT&T's media unit, had a frighteningly cold assessment about what would be expected from the HBO staff under the new regime.

According to The New York Times, which obtained a tape of a recent town hall meeting, Stankey told HBO staff they needed to make more money and produce more hours to help AT&T monetize viewers through consumer data. He also likened the coming year to "childbirth," in other words difficult but worth it.

"We've got to make money at the end of the day, right?" he said.

AT&T declined to comment. 

It's hard to imagine Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings or the folks at Amazon rallying the troops with a call to make money and get data.

This Stankey comment in the New York Times report of the meeting, however, stuck out:

“I want more hours of engagement. Why are more hours of engagement important? Because you get more data and information about a customer that then allows you to do things like monetize through alternate models of advertising as well as subscriptions, which I think is very important to play in tomorrow’s world.”

Is this a hint that there's an ad-supported version of HBO in the planning stages?

Stankey, who heads up WarnerMedia, which houses the Time Warner media assets that AT&T bought, isn't coming out of these staff meetings looking too great. His promises of independence at CNN came with a surprising caveat. After explaining that AT&T wouldn't be second guessing the bosses, he added: "The second part of editorial independence is that freedom is earned by people who work hard and report factually and do their jobs well and that's what CNN does."

The "freedom is earned" part didn't go down to well with some. Here's Felix Salmon at Slate on why that caveat matters.

Ben Affleck — yes that Ben Affleck — appears to have predicted Spotify and Netflix back in 2003

Here's a fun catch — Ben Affleck called the emergence of streaming subscription services back in 2003. 

A clip of an Affleck interview was making the rounds over the weekend, in which the actor-director talks about how technology, including file-sharing services, are pushing consumers to realize that they could have access to an entire music library rather than just buying CDs. 

To put this in context, Facebook at the time had not yet been launched and Napster had been shut down just a couple years ago — and a solid three years before Spotify was founded.

It's worth a watch just to see how much of it came true. 

Daniel Arkin

MoviePass starts charging extra to see movies at 'peak' times

MoviePass, the subscription movie ticket service, is taking a page out of the Uber playbook.

The company rolled out a new surcharge on Thursday called "Peak Pricing." MoviePass users "may be asked to pay a small additional fee depending on the level of demand" for a flick, the company said in an email to its customers.

The effected showings will be labeled with a red lightning bolt icon and, according to Variety, will come at an additional cost between $2 and $6.

The announcement comes amid a tumultuous chapter for the upstart service. Wall Street has voiced doubts about the long-term viability of the business model ($9.99 per month for a movie per day), and a string of recent reports suggest MoviePass is running out of cash.

In the eyes of some financial analysts, it is only a matter of time before MoviePass faces a reckoning — surcharge or no surcharge.

Facebook wins British soccer rights for Southeast Asia

Facebook has soccer fever, and not just because of the World Cup. The social network has acquired rights to bring live English Premiere League matches to users in parts of Southeast Asia.

The three-year deal is worth $265.3 million, according to The Times of London. Facebook beat out BeIn Sports and Fox Sports Asia for the rights.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Facebook is also discussing a reality show featuring arguably the most famous soccer player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. Variety reports the project is destined for Facebook Watch. 

Much has been made about the  encroachment of tech giants in the world of sports media rights, but again this is another fringe deal, and hardly a knockout punch. 

Back in June, Amazon scored a package of 60 Premiere League games for UK viewers, after Sky and BT scooped up the bigger packages, according to the Financial Times. It is also prepping sales for its NFL Thursday night package. But while the tech giants tout their global audiences, it seems the sports rights owners are still keen on geographically segmenting their audiences.

Madison Square Garden chief thinks Fox's RSNs might be a tough sell (but that doesn't mean he isn't interested)

Who might buy the 22 regional sports networks that Fox and Disney have pledged to sell in order to receive Justice Department approval?

Put James Dolan, chief executive of Madison Square Garden Company, down as a maybe.

The networks, which include New York's valuable YES Network, are only theoretically for sale, of course, since Fox shareholders might be looking for another, better offer from Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal (parent company of NBC News).

"We're paying attention. I suppose at the right price we might," Dolan told The Query.

Still, the MSG chief was sanguine on their future growth: "We still think there's potential but the market is changing a lot and nobody is growing revenues much because everything is fully distributed and fully priced. The question is what happens from there."

Dolan, who is exploring splitting MSG into two separate units (one housing the sports teams including the New York Knicks, the other with the company's the entertainment venues), notes that RSNs are valuable and throw off a lot of money, but - and it's a big but: "It's a slow, declining revenue stream."

Here's CNBC's David Faber on the topic of the potential bidders and the potential auction. And here's Cablefax's list of likely bidders. Mergers and acquisitions reporting is such a world of caveats these days.