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Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover?

Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover?Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.

Corporate And Media Leaders Attend Allen & Company Media And Technology Conf.Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.

And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.

The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to … Read More »

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Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find You

Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find YouEXCLUSIVE: The Screen Actors Guild exists to collect wages and benefits and disperse them to dues-paying members, but a Deadline investigation begs a multimillion-dollar question: Why are so many living and deceased thesps owed unclaimed residual checks worth $40 million, money that is drawing interest for the union’s general fund? The roll call of Who’s Owed is a Hollywood Who’s Who, including more than 75 Oscar-winning actors or their estates and dozens of Emmy winners who likely are unaware they are owed residuals. A union spokesperson tells Deadline the union is working to locate those members, but it is difficult because people change agents and don’t notify the union, or they move and mailed checks are returned by the post office and never cashed.

Still, could it really be that hard to find some of these performers? Deadline found that if you threw a rock on the red carpet of any major industry event, chances are you’d hit somebody SAG owes money to.

Jodie Foster Warren BeattyLike: reigning Best Actress Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, and former Oscar host Steve Martin. Or Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, Sally Field, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, Channing Tatum, James Franco, Jim Carrey, Sharon Stone, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Melissa McCarthy, Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Zac Efron and Andrew Garfield.

The music side of the ledger of Who’s Owed reads like a wing … Read More »

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Why Did Netflix Shares Fall Today?

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 1:19pm PDT

Why Did Netflix Shares Fall Today?The stock price fell 4.6% to $431.09 even though the Q2 earnings reported last night were largely in line with analyst expectations, subscriptions were up impressively, and management forecasts were upbeat. What gives?

The simplest explanation is that Netflix always is susceptible to downturns because its shares are so expensive, reflecting investor optimism about its prospects. They trade for about 128 times the company’s earnings — a stark contrast to more stable media giants such as Fox, Comcast, Time Warner and CBS whose stock prices equal about 20 times earnings.

Related: Netflix Says It Sees Little Change If Fox Acquires Time Warner

And Netflix bears found some reasons to be skittish. The company will have to boost spending to secure the content it will need to serve new markets including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg — and that could put pressure on earnings “as soon as next year,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He’s concerned about the decline in DVD-by-mail rental subscribers; they account for “half of all operating profit for the company.” The analyst also says that Amazon’s recent streaming deal with HBO suggests that “a stand-alone subscription plan is coming” that would make the e-retailer a more potent video competitor.

Related: Wall Street Wonders: Will HBO’s Deal With Amazon Change The Online Video Game?

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NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With Competition

NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With CompetitionNBC and cable networks led by USA “were trading at a 20% discount to our competition” in the cost-per-viewer of ad sales before the recent upfront market, NBCU chief Steve Burke told analysts this morning. “We’re now at about a 10% discount.” Comcast‘s entertainment arm says it bucked a trend in the upfront — seen as generally down 5% vs last year — as it benefits from the growing popularity of its shows, and a decision to sell broadcast and cable ad inventory together. “If the industry was down 5% and we were up 10%, that’s a 15% difference vs what we would have done” if NBCU had sold broadcast and cable separately. “It’s a swing of $750M” that will go “a long way toward closing monetization gap.”
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Comcast Reports Mixed Q2 Financials As NBCU Films Slip, Offsetting TV Strength

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 4:13am PDT

Comcast Reports Mixed Q2 Financials As NBCU Films Slip, Offsetting TV StrengthComcast has become so big and complex that its earnings are almost always mixed — and Q2 was no exception, although the combination of soft revenue growth with strong profits sent shares up 2.1% in pre-market trading. The cable giant reported net income of $2.03B, +16.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $16.84B, +3.5%. Analysts expected the top line to come in a little higher, at $16.95B. But earnings at 76 cents a share handily beat the consensus forecast of 72 cents.

NBCUniversal also seemed to have a split personality with operating cash flow +20.4% to $1.43B while revenues were +0.3% to $6.02B. The main Cable Networks operation saw sales grow 2.6% to $2.48B with affiliate fees +4.2% while ad sales fell 2.2%. Still, by controlling costs, the unit’s operating cash flow rose 6.3% to $914M. The Broadcast Television unit told a similar story: With rising retransmission consent fees, its revenues increased 4.9% to $1.8B. Image (4) the-voice-judges__140601175730-275x183.jpg for post 738728But ad sales fell 1.7%, which the network partly attributes to having fewer hours of The Voice than it had last year. Still, broadcast operating cash flow increased 16.2% to $240M reflecting, the company says, “a slight increase in operating costs and expenses.” Theme Parks proved to be NBCU’s most consistent performer despite the increased costs for Orlando’s The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley attraction which opened this month. Attendance and spending were both up, resulting in a 12.8% increase in revenues to $615M with … Read More »

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Netflix Touts ‘Orange Is The New Black’ As Q2 Earnings Meet Expectations; Streaming Service Tops 50M Subs

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 1:13pm PDT

Netflix Touts ‘Orange Is The New Black’ As Q2 Earnings Meet Expectations; Streaming Service Tops 50M SubsShares are up about 2% in early post-market trading, though probably mostly due to subscriber gains — topping 50M streaming customers worldwide for the first time — rather than the financial results for Q2. Netflix generated $71M in net income, up from $29.5M in the period last year, on revenues of $1.34B, +25.4%. While the growth is impressive, it was also expected: Revenues came in just a little ahead of the $1.33B that analysts anticipated. Earnings at $1.15 a share were a penny shy of the consensus forecast.

Related: CBS Drama ‘The Zoo’ To Be Available On Netflix In 2015

Jodie Foster earns first Emmy directing nomination with Orange Is The New BlackBut the company says it had 36.24M domestic streaming customers at the end of the quarter, up 570,000 from March, which it attributes to “our ever-improving content offering, including Orange Is The New Black Season 2.” Netflix expects an additional 1.33M in Q3. On the international side, streaming customers increased by 1.12M over the three-month period to 13.8M. But the company lost 342,000 DVD-by-mail customers, ending the quarter with 6.17M.

Related: Oscar-Nominated Film Now Aiming To WIN An Emmy For Netflix – How Is It Eligible For Both?

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MSNBC Flatlines On Big Big News Day While Fox News Dominates & CNN Ratings Surge

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 12:58pm PDT

MSNBC Flatlines On Big Big News Day While Fox News Dominates & CNN Ratings SurgeThe rule of thumb is that when news is breaking and a crisis is unfolding, cable news networks see a big jump in viewership. Turns out that’s not the case if you are MSNBC. On the first full day of coverage of the Malaysia Airlines disaster and Israeli troop movement into Gaza the day before, the Comcast-owned news channel actually was down double digits among adults 25-54 both in total day and in primetime on July 18. While rivals CNN and Fox News Channel were up 16% and 13% in total day over the comparable day last year, when the news was much quieter to say the least, MSNBC fell 38% to a mere 87,000.

Image (2) foxnewschannel__121107055533__130821210939__130827191454__140401180009-150x149.jpg for post 715548Take a look at primetime, the numbers get even harsher for MSNBC with a 46% fall in the demo to 118,000 from July 19, 2013 compared to a rise of 16% and 30% for FNC and CNN. Winning in all categories on Friday and benefiting from the breaking news, FNC had 268,000 among 25-54s for total day and 323,000 during primetime. Seeing an uptick as it commonly does during breaking news, the often ratings struggling Time Warner-owned network got 208,000 in the demo total day and 263,000 in Image (1) cnnlogo__140117174347-275x131__140122180929__140425214942__140602211242.jpg for post 739150primetime.

Related: FNC Wins 50th Straight Ratings Quarter

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Deadline Q&A: Can Matt Strauss’ Hollywood Deals Help Comcast Defend Cable?

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 11:34am PDT

Deadline Q&A: Can Matt Strauss’ Hollywood Deals Help Comcast Defend Cable?Matthew Strauss isn’t a household name in Hollywood yet. But he should be, and possibly will be soon. As Comcast Cable’s GM of Video Services, Strauss oversees the cable colossus’ Xfinity cloud-based X1 platform, video on demand, TV Everywhere, and — starting last year — sales of digitally downloadable movies and TV shows (known as Electronic Sell Through). In other words, he leads the cable industry’s counter-offensive as digital services led by Netflix and ad-zapping DVRs make inroads with pay TV consumers.

Studios and networks are taking notice, and striking deals with Strauss that push the boundaries of technology, and traditional business practices. For example, Comcast and FX have just begun to let VOD customers watch episodes of The Bridge a week before they appear on the channel itself. Deadline caught up with Strauss to find out the latest about that experiment and others that could reshape the medium. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.

DEADLINE: VOD has been one of Comcast’s top initiatives. Where do things stand?
STRAUSS: I have a long history with VOD. I’ve been working on this for almost 13 years now. About 70% of our digital subscribers use on demand every single month, and by the end of this year we’ll have 200,000 hours of on-demand content available. We surpassed our 30 billionth program viewed on demand last year. So this is something that has gone from almost an infancy, novelty kind of product and now is deeply entrenched. For the first time we now have the top 100 rated Nielsen shows … Read More »

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Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not Quality

By and | Sunday July 20, 2014 @ 9:25am PDT

Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not QualityFlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

Bart: Like  7th grade boys staring in the mirror, corporate CEOs these days keep asking themselves, “Am I big enough?” What scares them is the prospect of becoming a takeover target, and there’s been a rush of takeover talk lately —Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner being the most dramatic. Size means safety in the corporate universe and Time Warner became vulnerable by ridding itself of Time Inc., AOL and Time Warner Cable — the latter becoming a target for Comcast. With giants like Google, Apple and Amazon looming, CEOs are scared they can’t measure up, but the folks who should really be frightened are the creatives and their audiences. Bigness means giant fees for bankers and profits for shareholders, but the impact of the monoliths is easy to read — a universe of corporate plodding, tentpoles and sequels.

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Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 3:49pm PDT

Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.

But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.

What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:

Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »

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WGA Makes Last FCC Pitch On Latest Net Neutrality Rules

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 7:13pm PDT

WGA Makes Last FCC Pitch On Latest Net Neutrality RulesWarning that Internet video distribution could, like cable television, become “dominated by a few vertically-integrated conglomerates,” the WGA West made its last pitch to the FCC today for proposals to protect Internet neutrality. The FCC is expected to hand down its new policy on the issue within a few weeks, following the close today of a public-comment period on the latest proposal to regulate Internet transmission of video and other data.
In January, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. struck down parts of the FCC’s 2010 rules, leading to a new round of guidelines, including a controversial provision that would say Internet Service Providers “may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet.”
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Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT

Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite“We’re in an arms race,” Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman told the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing to explore the prospects for broadband video. It’s “no surprise, content companies bulk up” as Fox wants to do with its $80B bid for Time Warner, which was rejected by the company but disclosed today. Following Comcast’s deal to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s with DirecTV, “consumers are between a rock and a hard place….They started the ball rolling and as we’ve seen from today’s stories, we don’t know where it’s going to end.”

Representatives from Comcast and AT&T indirectly debated with execs from Dish Network, the WGA, and Kimmelman over whether online video providers have to fear mergers or need strong net neutrality rules. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va) ended the proceedings by arguing for municipal broadband to provide a low-cost option for poor residents. He also said that he invited Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declined to show. “I can’t figure [it] out because I’m trying to help them, I think. But he didn’t want to be here.”

Dish says that later this year it plans to introduce a low-priced online video service that will include live streams of ESPN, and could be threatened by the union of the two largest cable companies. “Comcast doesn’t necessarily want us to succeed because we’re competitors,” says the satellite company’s Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Blum. “We are very concerned that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have an incentive and ability to stifle our service.” Read More »

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Comcast And The Customer Rep From Hell

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 10:18am PDT

Comcast And The Customer Rep From HellComcast execs had better take the recording below seriously, because in the last few hours it has become an Internet phenomenon — an example of almost everything that many consumers hate about the cable-broadband giant and its bureaucracy. It was made last week by tech journalist Ryan Block after his wife called Comcast to cancel their broadband service (they wanted to switch providers) and were transferred to a customer retention rep who refused to comply and hectored them with patronizing talking points. The recording starts about 10 minutes into the conversation, Block writes, after the Comcast rep “continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone.”

Comcast says it’s “embarrassed by the way our employee spoke with Mr. Block and [is] contacting him to personally apologize.” But the company adds that the rep was an outlier: His hectoring questions and refusal to simply cancel the service were “not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives. We are investigating this situation and will take quick action. While the overwhelming majority of our employees work very hard to do the right thing every day, we are using this very unfortunate experience to reinforce how important it is to always treat our customers with the utmost respect.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – Recap

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – RecapUPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Jeffrey_Katzenberg_118299588Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).

On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the H2013-07-11t154703z_2111664344_gm1e97b1tzw01_rtrmadp_3_sunvalley-conference_Fotorerb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.

The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.

So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.

Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That Read More »

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Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky Forecast

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 10:18am PDT

Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky ForecastDreamWorks Animation Shares Touch 52-Week Low

The stock is down about 1% in early afternoon trading after taking a hit early this morning following B. Riley’s Eric Wold’s decision to abandon his “buy” recommendation. It touched $21.90, a 12-month low, after the analyst dropped his price target nearly 22% to $25. Wold acknowledged that his upgrade in March, when the stock value was 23% higher, “proved to be ill-timed and premature.” He calls the box office for How To Train Your Dragon 2 “disappointing” which “may turn DWA into a ‘show me’ stock and keep a ceiling on valuations until more consistent box office results develop.” The good news? Wold still likes DWA’s plans to diversify and expand its TV production. He also says that Dragon shouldn’t require a write-down.

Aereo’s Effort To Define Itself As A Cable Company Could Backfire At FCC: Analyst

Aereo may have bought some time with its attempt to redefine itself as a cable company, but it likely won’t succeed, Guggenheim Securities’ Paul Gallant says this morning. He figures that U.S. District Court Judge Amy Nathan — who’s overseeing broadcasters’ plea for an injunction to shutter the streaming service — will want to hear additional arguments after the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Aereo could not take over-the-air signals without payment. Justices likened it to a cable company: Copyright law gives operators the right to a compulsory license, which enables them to carry broadcast signals if they pay a relatively low fee set by the Copyright Office. But if the FCC also deems Aereo to be a … Read More »

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AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIX

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 7:19am PDT

AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIXAnother step forward for EPIX in its campaign to persuade pay TV distributors to add its suite of premium channels to their line-ups. Per usual, this morning’s release doesn’t disclose the deal terms for AT&T‘s agreement to offer its 5.7M TV customers EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and EPIX Drive-In. The package will cost $8 a month following a free preview over the July 25 weekend. EPIX — which is owned by Viacom, Lionsgate, and MGM — trumpets its large library of movies. It says that its subs on AT&T will be able to stream more than 3,000 titles via EPIX.com, its EPIX App, EPIX VOD and live feeds of the channel on Uverse.com and the U-verse apps. AT&T “holds innovation and the consumer experience in the highest regard and we are very pleased to embark on this new relationship,” EPIX CEO Mark Greenberg says.

EPIX, introduced in 2009, has been making steady progress in winning over pay TV companies who initially stiff armed the service. Time Warner Cable picked it up in March, and Bright House agreed to do so in June. It still isn’t carried by Comcast and DirecTV, the biggest cable and satellite companies. But today’s deal with AT&T could change that: The telco plans to buy DirecTV.

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DirecTV Hits Al Jazeera America With Lawsuit But Won’t (Heavily Redacted) Say Why

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 7:19pm PDT

DirecTV Hits Al Jazeera America With Lawsuit But Won’t (Heavily Redacted) Say WhyI can tell you that DirecTV today filed a breach of contract complaint against Al Jazeera America. I can tell you that the civil case complaint demands a 10-day jury trial and seeks more than $25,000 but also is looking for declaratory relief. Finally, I can tell you that the 17-page filing by the satellite service provider has something to do with the Affiliation Agreement that DirecTV entered into with AJAM predecessor Current TV back on July 13, 2005, just over two weeks before the channel co-owned by Al Gore debuted. Beyond that, and who the plaintiffs’ lawyers are, virtually everything else in the complaint (read it here) is redacted. DirecTV reps had no comment when I contacted them about the blacked-out filing. Al Jazeera America weren’t saying much either. “We have not reviewed the complaint and therefore have no comment,” an AJAM spokesperson told me today. A non-redacted version also has been filed in LA Superior but is under seal, I’ve learned.
directv lawsuit copy Could this complaint be something similar to when Time Warner Cable dropped Al Jazeera America from its service minutes al jazeera america logoafter the Qatar-owned news channel bought Current TV for $500 million back in January 2013. Saying it didn’t consent to the sale, TWC jettisoned AJAM. The new station launched on August 20 that year, and a few months later the two sides … Read More »

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FCC Starts Clock On Comcast’s Deals With Time Warner Cable And Charter

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 12:50pm PDT

FCC Starts Clock On Comcast’s Deals With Time Warner Cable And CharterAnd they’re off…The FCC officially started its informal 180-day clock to review Comcast‘s planned $42B acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and its side deals to transfer systems to Charter Communications and a new spinoff entity temporarily (I hope) called Spinco. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and his four fellow commissioners set an August 25 deadline for comments and petitions to deny the applications. Parties must respond by September 23, and replies to those comments are due October 8. Although the FCC wants to reach a decision within 180 days, regulators often stop the clock if they need additional time to sort through issues on major deals. Read More »

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Charlie Ergen Urges FCC To Stop Comcast From Buying Time Warner Cable

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 12:48pm PDT

Charlie Ergen Urges FCC To Stop Comcast From Buying Time Warner CableThe Dish Network chairman made his plea on Monday in meetings with all five FCC commissioners and several staffers, according to a Dish filing today. Comcast’s $45B deal for Time Warner Cable “presents serious competitive concerns for the broadband and video marketplaces and therefore should be denied,” Dish told regulators, according to its account of the talks. “There do not appear to be any conditions that would remedy the harms that would result from the merger.” Charlie Ergen said that Comcast could hobble Internet video services at three choke points: The cable company would control last-mile connection to the home and the point where content providers access Comcast’s network. In addition, it could squeeze potential rivals by devoting lots of its web capacity to special high-speed lanes for favored services. “Each choke point provides the ability for the combined company to foreclose the online video offerings of its competitors,” the filing says. Read More »

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