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U.K. gives the OK for Fox to buy Sky — as long as it sells Sky News

The U.K. government is clearing the path for 21st Century Fox to acquire European satellite TV company Sky, but there's one big condition — Fox has to sell Sky News.

Fox has a $24.7 billion dollar bid on the table for Sky, which is Europe's largest pay-TV company. Sky, already part-owned by Fox, is also considering a $30.1 billion bid from Comcast, owner of NBCUniversal. The government cleared Comcast's bid without further examination.

The country's Competition and Markets Authority had previously recommended the proposed deal be blocked, but has considered potential remedies suggested by the Rupert Murdoch-backed Fox.

Culture secretary Matt Hancock spoke to parliament on Tuesday and said he agreed with the country's competition authority that "divesting Sky News to Disney, as proposed by Fox, or to an alternative suitable buyer, with an agreement to ensure it is funded for at least ten years, is likely to be the most proportionate and effective remedy for the public interests concerns that have been identified."

Sky is a U.K.-based satellite broadcaster with 22.5 million subscribers in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Italy and Australia. It generated GBP12.9 billion ($17.2 billion) of revenue in 2017.

Murdoch helped create Sky  when satellite television was in its infancy. Several attempts by Murdoch to own the balance of Sky have been thwarted in the past after other Murdoch-backed companies ended up embroiled in scandals — including the phone hacking scandal at British newspaper News of the World, which at the time was part of Murdoch's News Corporation.

"The proposals include significant commitments from Fox. But there are some important issues on the draft undertakings which still need to be addressed," Hancock added.

Fox is in the midst of a deal to sell many of its assets to Walt Disney Co., including its 39 percent holding in Sky.

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'The Meg' highlights growing movie teamwork between U.S. and China

“The Meg,” the gleefully dumb shark thriller that took a bite out of the weekend box office, isn’t your average Hollywood project.

That’s because it’s only half a Hollywood project: The movie was co-produced by Warner Bros. and Gravity Pictures, a Chinese company.

The movie, which grossed $44.5 million in the U.S. and another $50.3 million in China, was clearly created with Chinese moviegoers in mind. It is partly set in the waters off the Chinese mainland and co-stars acclaimed Chinese actress Li Bingbing.

Why does this matter? China, home to 1.3 billion people and more than 40,000 movie screens, is the second-largest box office on the planet behind the United States. American studios are increasingly focused on making a killing there — and so that’s why traditional players like Warner Bros. are teaming up with Chinese financiers and co-producers.

Universal Pictures did something similar earlier this summer with “Skyscraper,” an action-packed riff on “Die Hard” starring Dwayne Johnson. The movie was set in Hong Kong and co-produced by Legendary, a California-based production company that was acquired by the Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group in 2016.

Universal Pictures is owned by NBCUniversal, which is also the parent company of NBC News.

“Skyscraper” was a dud in the U.S. and a moderate hit in China, where it has grossed close to $100 million.

Newspapers across the U.S. ready editorials about Trump's attacks on press

The Boston Globe and the American Society of News Editors put out the call — publish editorials on Trump's escalating rhetoric about U.S. journalists.

And the newspapers are prepared to answer. CNN's Brian Stelter reports that more than 100 publications are each prepared to publish an editorial on Thursday, which would make it one of the widest coordinated efforts in the history of American media. 

The ASNE put out the call on Thursday.

"This dirty war on the free press must end," the ASNE posted on its blog. "The Boston Globe is reaching out to editorial boards across the country to propose a coordinated response. The Globe proposes to publish an editorial on Aug. 16 on the dangers of the administration's assault on the press and ask others to commit to publishing their own editorials on the same date. Publications, whatever their politics, could make a powerful statement by standing together in the common defense of their profession and the vital role it plays in government for and by the people."

The editorials are being coordinated by Marjorie Pritchard, deputy editorial page editor at the Boston Globe.

Roku captures streaming video growth

Streaming video player Roku is capturing a big slice of the big shift to internet-delivered TV viewing, but it's not leaving advertisers behind.

What is Roku:

Roku started life as a unit of Netflix, which sold out early on, but the company still calls Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California, its home. Menlo Ventures and Sky Ventures also helped this company get off the ground too.

The little publicized Roku is the Spotify of streaming devices - it outsells Amazon Fire sticks, Google Chromecasts and Apple TVs, and is independently owned.

Here's Bloomberg's Tara Lachapelle with some good insights and graphics on Roku.

Roku also operates the ad-supported TheRokuChannel.com .

Why is it important:

Not only is Roku the biggest seller of devices that enable TV sets to stream video, it has its sights set on the growing number of advertisers looking to target consumers with household-level data sets.  

"TV advertisers are shifting budgets to OTT," the firm said in its second quarter shareholders letter. "Over time we believe the vast majority of the $70 billion annual U.S. TV advertising market will shift to streaming." Roku boasts extensive insights into its 22 million subscribers.

Roku is growing like a weed:

The company unveiled growth numbers on Thursday along with its earnings, that surprised Wall Street estimates. Roku stock shot up 21.3 percent after the bell on Thursday.

Roku added seven million accounts in the past 12 months, and average revenue per user grew 48 percent year-over-year to $16.60. The amount of content being streamed is also growing: 5.5 billion hours in the quarter, a 57 percent increase versus a year ago. 

Why is it so popular:

Roku says it's easy to use. It has two price points, either $29.99 or $105.99. Roku is also putting a new button on its home screen helping users to find free ad-supported movies and TV content across the web and splits ad revenue with content owners.

If you bought Roku last September when it's IPO price was $14 a share, then you'd be in the money today, barely a year later.  The stock was trading above $60 at lunchtime on Friday.

The most polarizing brands in America? Trump and CNN

How do you feel about the "Trump Hotels" brand? How about Fox News or The Washington Post?

The answer is that it very much depends on whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

A new survey from Morning Consult, a polling and data analysis company, found Trump Hotels to be the most polarizing brand among Americans, with a 78-point "net favorability spread" between Democrats and Republicans. 

After that, it's quite a list of media companies: CNN, Fox News, NBC News, New York Times and MSNBC round out the next six. 

The survey, which was based on 336,370 surveys conducted online by Morning Consult from Oct. 3, 2017 to Jan. 2, 2018, highlights just how politically divisive the media has become, with Republican and Democrats disagreeing deeply about how they rank the favorability of many mainstream outlets. The chart below, via Morning Consult, illustrates just how different the two sides see many major U.S. news outlets.

Morning Consult

The New York Times now has 3.8 million subscribers

The New York Times reported its second quarter earnings on Wednesday and it had its own good news/bad news.

The good news: The Times recorded $23.6 million in quarterly profit and now has 3.8 million subscribers; 2.9 million of them are digital-only.

The publisher added 109,000 net new subscribers in the period, not quite as great as the same quarter last year when the Times signed 114,000 net new subscribers. Subscription revenue is now two thirds of all revenue.

The bad news: Print advertising is down 11.5 percent, and digital ad revenue fell 7.5 percent. Daily circulation fell 10 percent. That was enough to send Times shares down 5.1 percent to $23.05 in afternoon trading.

The Times also spent a lot of money re-organizing its seating. The company took a $1 million charge related to "the redesign and consolidation of space in our headquarters building."

The paper said it has leased four and a half of the seven floors it has made available to rent. Here's what the company CEO Mark Thompson had to say about the period.

 

 

Journalists fire back at Twitter CEO about role of press in countering conspiracy theories

Journalists had a lot to say about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday morning — and most didn't like Dorsey's assertion that the role of the press was to offer a check on the conspiracy theories of Alex Jones' InfoWars.

Dorsey explained on Tuesday night why Jones, who has claimed that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, remains on Twitter after other social media outlets banned him.

"Accounts like Jones' can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors, so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best,” Dorsey tweeted.

Here's what a few journalists and outlets had to say about that:

Portland Press Herald in Maine, tweeted: "You know, @jack our days are pretty full as it is without cleaning up your website for you pro bono. Just sayin."

Freelance journalist Lauren Duca wrote: "Yeah, that’s the job of journalism. What’s your job exactly?"

Rob Tannenbaum, who describes himself as a writer for New York magazine, tweeted:  "See @Jack? Literal, mortal consequences of allowing sensationalism and unsubstantiated rumors to flourish in what you dishonestly call the public conversation."

Bill Grueskin, a former WSJ executive and professor at Columbia Journalism School, according to his Twitter bio said:  "If only journalists had publicized the fact that the Sandy Hook murders did, indeed, take place. Thanks @Jack."

Garrett Graff, a Wired contributor, posted: "Honestly, if we can't agree that Sandy Hook hoaxers don't belong in the public sphere, are there any lines that Twitter and @jack are willing to draw?"

Meanwhile, The Guardian's Carole Cadwalladr, who broke news on Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data, is the latest reporter to say she's taking a break from Twitter. She posted this adieu along with an image on an attack on her.

“This enemy of the people is taking a break.  for the amazing support for this story, Twitter. It is very much appreciated. #Journalism2018,” she tweeted.

Just a few weeks ago, New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman explained why she was taking a break from engaging on Twitter. 

"Twitter has stopped being a place where I could learn things I didn’t know, glean information that was free from errors about a breaking news story or engage in a discussion and be reasonably confident that people’s criticisms were in good faith,” Haberman wrote in the Times.

The Twitter CEO responded last month in a long thread. Dorsey quoted Haberman's thought: “There is an important discussion about journalism that must take place, including about how all of us performed during the 2016 campaign, but Twitter is not where a nuanced or thoughtful discussion can happen.”

Then he added: "This is what we’d like to fix the most."

Axios adds to news outlets making TV with HBO show

Add Axios to the growing list of news outlets making TV shows. 

The digital media upstart announced on Wednesday that it has struck a deal with HBO to produce a "limited docu-series" to coincide with the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. The series will have big-name interviews and short documentaries on important topics, Axios' Mike Allen said in a post.

Media companies searching for non-advertising revenue have been slowly venturing into the world of high-end nonfiction video production. Vice was among the first, signing a deal with HBO back in 2012 to make documentary programming. 

Since then, both BuzzFeed and Vox have deals to produce shows Netflix, OZY Media started "Breaking Big" for PBS, and the New York Times is preparing to launch "The Weekly" on FX.

Joanna Coles tweets about her post-Hearst future

Joanna Coles is getting off the treadmill — literally.

The former chief content officer at magazine publishing house Hearst surprised the publishing world when she resigned last week. On Monday, in her own unique style, Coles tweeted out a video of herself getting off a treadmill and discussing what is next.

"My route is being recalculated," she said. "It's time for a new adventure."

The New York Post was first to report her departure on Friday.

On Monday, Hearst released a statement from a spokeswoman: "Joanna is an innovator, a connector and an inspired editor. She's made the decision to start a new adventure and we thank her for her creativity and many contributions and wish her the very best."

Many magazine industry watchers were surprised when she wasn't selected to succeed David Carey, who is stepping down as president. Instead, the 50-year-old Hearst digital chief Troy Young got the job.

During her tenure at Hearst, Coles created a world that went well beyond editing magazines including Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire; she's a board member at Snap and worked with TV network Freeform to help create a show based on her journals called "The Bold Type." The married media executive also published a book about online dating this year.

Coles told The Independent back in 2008 that in order to pitch herself as a new chief at women's magazine Marie Claire, she had to chase after then-Hearst president Cathie Black, who was just leaving her office to head to the airport. Coles invited herself into the back of the cab to make her pitch to run Marie Claire. She got the job and the rest is history.

CNN boss Jeff Zucker is doing well after heart surgery

Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, is through heart surgery and doing well.

Zucker is on a leave of absence through August to recover and is expected back at the network in September. A CNN spokeswoman confirmed, "Yes, he's doing great."

Zucker has battled with a number of health scares over the years from colon cancer to Bell's palsy but is recovering well. The news chief is 53 years old. A friend of Zucker, who asked to remain anonymous as they are not authorized to speak publicly on his behalf, said he is not watching news or responding to email while he recovers. Here's CNN media reporter Brian Stelter's tweet on Zucker's internal announcement about the news. 

"CBS Evening News" gets boss's name wrong

Jeff Glor might want to watch out.

The "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor reported on his boss, CEO Leslie Moonves, and CBS second-quarter earnings last night. The graphics staff misspelt Moonves as "Mooves."

Some viewers noticed and tweeted out the mistake.