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David Andrews Joins ABC’s ‘The Whispers’, Meaghan Rath In ‘Secrets & Lies’

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 10:57am PDT

David Andrews Joins ABC’s  ‘The Whispers’, Meaghan Rath In ‘Secrets & Lies’David Andrews (Fight Club, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines) has been booked as recurring on ABC thriller The Whispers, from ABC Studios and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV. It focuses on an an unseen force that is manipulating society’s most innocent – our children – to act in favor of its cause. As the kids unwittingly help this unknown enemy, the clock counts down in a suspenseful race to save humanity. Andrews, repped by Mavrick Artists and Untitled, will play U.S. Secretary of Defense Frommer in a minimum 6-episode arc. Frommer is always in control, calmly authoritative, steely and uncompromising. He meets with Wes regarding Captain Bennigan’s possible survival after the plane crash, surprising Wes by letting him know that Bennigan was working secret ops. He is, however, very concerned about how much Bennigan’s wife may know.
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TLC Unveils New Brand Campaign And Tagline

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 3:50pm PDT

TLC Unveils New Brand Campaign And TaglineTLC is rolling out a new multimillion-dollar brand campaign and tagline, “Everyone needs a little TLC”, via print spreads and on-air spots across key media outlets nationwide, the network said today. They include People magazine, US Weekly, USA Network, E!, A&E, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Dish and DirecTV as well as Discovery Communications’ portfolio of networks.
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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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Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC Apologizes For ‘Doctor Who’ Leaks; eOne Buys Paperny; More

Global Showbiz Briefs: BBC Apologizes For ‘Doctor Who’ Leaks; eOne Buys Paperny; MoreBBC Worldwide has apologized for recent leaks of scripts and footage from the new series of Doctor Who. The commercial arm of the broadcaster said a damaging “mistake” resulted in the exposure of five scripts and the first six unfinished episodes from Series 8 on a publicly accessible FTP site. It thanked fans for their efforts at helping to contain the leaks and said it has put in place a plan using new technology and internal manpower to limit any illegal activity. “BBC Worldwide has taken this issue extremely seriously and disciplinary action has been implemented as a result of the incident,” it added, and offered “sincere apologies” to showrunner Steven Moffat, the cast and the production team. Doctor Who returns on August 23 with Peter Capaldi as the latest incarnation of the Time Lord.

EOne logoEntertainment One has acquired Canadian factual programming producer Paperny Entertainment from partners David Paperny, Cal Shumiatcher and Audrey Mehler. With the acquisition, Canadian giant eOne says it intends to ramp up its activity in unscripted television production across North America. Vancouver-based Paperny also has operations in Toronto and New York. It has produced over 500 hours of programming since its inception in 1994. The company is expected to deliver a further 80 hours of original programming this year. Its recent and returning shows include Timber Kings (HGTV), Cold Water Cowboys (Discovery Channel Canada), Yukon Read More »

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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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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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One More World Cup Record: Final Seen Live By 40,000 In-Flight Passengers

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 4:37am PDT

One More World Cup Record: Final Seen Live By 40,000 In-Flight PassengersAll throughout the past month, we’ve covered the World Cup ratings bonanza for broadcasters from ABC, ESPN and Univision in the U.S., to BBC One, ARD, ZDF, and TF1 in Europe, among others. While we know a lot of those numbers don’t take into account folks watching in bars, cafés and town squares, what about fans who were in the air? The sky as a content destination is a fast-growing business with companies like Global Eagle, Gogo and Panasonic Avionics connecting entertainment and airline passengers in new ways. In a historic first, and courtesy of Panasonic’s in-flight Sport 24 channel, Sunday’s World Cup final was shown live by nine international carriers. According to the company, Germany’s defeat of Argentina was seen by 40,000 people, 35,000 feet above Earth. Bloomberg reports the figure is a record for a live in-flight TV broadcast. Throughout the World Cup and across such carriers as Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Emirates, Panasonic estimated that 1.5M passengers will have seen the tournament live on its systems. The matches were delivered over satellite WiFi and shown free of charge — in all classes. Carriers in the U.S. also allowed travelers to watch many of the matches via traditional satellite TV services from DirecTV and Dish Network, Forbes reported. ESPN is beamed directly to seat back televisions in many aircraft, but not ABC which showed many weekend games and the final.

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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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TCA: ‘Kingdom’, A Show That Doesn’t Have To Fit A Certain Demo For DirecTV’s Audience Network

By | Saturday July 12, 2014 @ 11:15am PDT

TCA: ‘Kingdom’, A Show That Doesn’t Have To Fit A Certain Demo For DirecTV’s Audience NetworkDirecTV kicked off TCA‘s Saturday sessions with a look at its upcoming mixed martial arts drama Kingdom, which is premiering on October 8 at 9 PM ET/PT.  Most of TCA’s sked today is devoted to the programming from non-traditional networks, i.e. DirecTV’s Audience Network, Amazon, Reelz and Hulu. While most of the Kingdom panel’s chatter with creator Byron Balasco and castmembers Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Nick Jonas, Jonathan Tucker and Joanna Going was confined to the show’s staging of its fisticuff scenes, DirecTV SVP of Entertainment Chris Long expounded on how this edgy niche drama fits in Audience Network‘s wheelhouse.

“While our demo is adults 35-54 who are highly educated and from high income households, our programming slate doesn’t have to fit a certain demo.  We’re looking for TV shows that get out of the clutter. We chose Kingdom not so much based on the fact that it was a sport drama, but because we loved the script,” explained Long about the network’s road-not-taken m.o, particularly in the wake of acquiring Friday Night Lights. Read More »

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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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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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Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: Analyst

Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: AnalystThis won’t go over well with the media moguls hobnobbing at the Allen & Co retreat in Sun Valley. But it’s the thesis behind the “neutral” rating that Barclays Capital’s Kannan Venkateshwar assigns to Big Media in his smart new 100-plus-page inaugural report on the industry. The major players – CBS, Discovery, Time Warner, Fox, Viacom, and Disney — make most of their profits from television. And although revenues in the field have grown over the last five years, “the source of this growth in most cases (with a few notable exceptions) has been through price inflation and an increase in the advertising inventory rather than a more sustainable growth in ratings,” he says. That spells trouble as Netflix, Amazon and others also produce content for the Web, and pay TV distributors including Comcast and DirecTV strike merger deals that make them stronger. They focus on shows and search engines — not networks and schedules. And as they forge stronger ties with subscribers, “traditional media companies get pushed further back into the value chain, further away from a direct relationship with the consumer.”
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DeadlineNow: FCC Signals Hard Look At Proposed Mega-Mergers (Video)

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 12:58pm PDT
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FCC Taps Economist Who Opposed Comcast's Acquisition Of NBCUniversal To Oversee Proposed Mega-Mergers

Deadline's David Lieberman looks at the FCC's choice to oversee the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV mergers.

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FCC Picks Critic Of Comcast’s NBCU Acquisition To Review Its Time Warner Cable Deal

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FCC Picks Critic Of Comcast’s NBCU Acquisition To Review Its Time Warner Cable Deal

By | Monday July 7, 2014 @ 12:21pm PDT

FCC Picks Critic Of Comcast’s NBCU Acquisition To Review Its Time Warner Cable DealComcast needs no introduction to the economist who the FCC tapped today to help regulators sort through the cable giant’s plan to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s for DirecTV: Former FCC Chief Economist William Rogerson, now a professor at Northwestern University, was an important opponent of Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal. He wrote at least three reports in 2010 that challenged Comcast’s economic analysis and concluded that the deal would hurt consumers. One, which he wrote on behalf of the American Cable Association, estimated that the reduction in competition from a combined Comcast-NBCU likely would lead pay TV customers to pay an additional $316.8M a year. That meant “the harm of this transaction is more than ten times as large as the benefit,” he said at the time.
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‘Community’ Revived To Air On Yahoo In Fall With 13 Episodes

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 2:47pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

‘Community’ Revived To Air On Yahoo In Fall With 13 EpisodesCommunity has done it, beating the odds and overcoming a cancellation to score a sixth-season order. After a couple of weeks of negotiations, series producer Sony Pictures TV has closed a deal with Yahoo for 13 new episodes to air this fall on Yahoo Screen. Talks went down to the wire as the options on the cast were set to expire today. Ever since NBC canceled Community last month, there had been interest from multiple outlets in continuing the cult comedy. I hear the list of possible suitors also included rebranded cable network Esquire; streaming service Hulu, which already has off-network rights to the series; and the Sony-owned Crackle.

Yahoo logoDan Harmon created Community and is returning as executive producer with Russ Krasnoff, Gary Foster and Chris McKenna. “I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo,” Harmon said in the announcement of the deal.  “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!”

With its devoted following by a core group of passionate fans, Community is the type of show digital platforms crave. Complicating the series’ options was the fact that it has a digital syndication deal in place with Hulu, in addition to a cable off-network pact with Comedy Central. Read More »

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AT&T-DirecTV Chiefs Dispute Charges That Merger Will Raise Prices And Limit Choices

By | Tuesday June 24, 2014 @ 1:47pm PDT

AT&T-DirecTV Chiefs Dispute Charges That Merger Will Raise Prices And Limit ChoicesAT&T’s Randall Stephenson and DirecTV’s Michael White faced some of the toughest questions they’ve encountered yet about their companies’ planned $49B merger in two congressional hearings today. They repeated their view that the deal would lower costs. But Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) pressed them to add whether consumers would see a direct benefit in lowered rates. “Dollar for dollar? No, I can not commit to that,” White said. Stephenson also declined to be specific. “One would have to believe in the market and market pressures,” he said adding that “prices are changing constantly.” The senator was unimpressed. “I have this sense that we are watching a re-run here….A lot of consumers would find that unsatisfying.”

att logoSen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) had more luck pinning the AT&T CEO down to promote, as well as offer, a competitive stand-alone broadband service. In a 2006 deal to buy Bell South “you hid the [promised] plan deep in the terms and conditions in your web page…it sounds like a broken promise,” Franken said. Would AT&T promise this time to make the service clear and visible to consumers? “Yes, I will,” Stephenson said. “I will make you without equivocation that commitment.” The exec was less certain when asked whether AT&T had paid lobbyists to support state laws that bar local governments from creating their own broadband services, an option that Franken believes communities should be free to make. Stephenson says he doesn’t know whether AT&T lobbied against municipal broadband. He added, though, … Read More »

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Bart & Fleming: Why Nikki Finke Won’t Be Coming Back

By and | Sunday June 22, 2014 @ 11:10am PDT

Bart & Fleming: Why Nikki Finke Won’t Be Coming BackPeter 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: You and I have lived through a few journalistic zigs and zags in our years at Variety, and we were always candid with each other in analyzing risks and rewards. Variety was started by the Silverman family but the dynasty ran out of sizzle and sold control. Deadline was started by Nikki Finke but she never managed to create a dynasty before running out of sizzle. So the question is this: Where do you take Deadline from here?

FlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Fleming: I think we built something exceptional with her. That said, a few people have asked me, ‘Why, when it looked like she might come back, did she start a site that is crapping all over you?’ I might as well begin there. The testiness that existed since her acrimonious exit aside, I got it in my head that enough time had passed and I wanted her back. I leaned on Jay Penske to end arbitration proceedings to make it happen, and he did just that. Here was my thinking. I like her. Even though we never met in person during our time together at Deadline, we had a lot of fun. When she and Jay hired me from Variety, they changed my life. My only goal was to get three kids through college without having to sell my house, and that effort is looking good. Since taking over, I have been able to extend a hand to several people I grew up with at Variety, and they’ve been great hires. I wanted to do the same with Nikki. My feeling was, when you reach the top after an unprecedented climb up a mountain like she did with Deadline, what’s wrong with staying to enjoy the view? I also thought a measured dose of her fire would complement the mix Nellie Andreeva and I have now.

Bart: Seems understandable. So why are you now known on her site as Mike Pflegming? Read More »

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