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UPDATE: Yahoo Shares Slip As Investors Focus On Weak Q2 Ad Sales

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 1:16pm PDT

UPDATE: Yahoo Shares Slip As Investors Focus On Weak Q2 Ad SalesUPDATE: The relief over the Alibaba news didn’t last long. Yahoo shares are now down 2.4% following management’s call with analysts who mostly focused on the company’s lousy Q2 results — and execs ratcheted back their Q3 guidance. CEO Marissa Mayer said it will take “multiple years” to turn things around, although she called the Q2 numbers a “short term set back.” CFO Ken Goldman says that “clear we need to operate with a greater sense of urgency” as he projected that Q3 numbers will look a lot like Q2′s.

PREVIOUS, 1:16 PM: Yahoo only has to sell 140M of its Alibaba shares after the Chinese e-retailer goes public, down from their previous agreement that required Yahoo to unload 208M shares. That led to a 2.5% jump in Yahoo’s stock price in early post market trading — not bad considering what looks at first glance to be tepid financial results in Q2. Yahoo generated $272.6M in net income, -18.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $1.04B (not including traffic acquisition costs), -2.9%. The top line is a hair lower than analysts expected. Net earnings at 37 cents a share were a penny light of the consensus forecast.

The Q2 results will do little to assuage investors who are wondering when CEO Marissa Mayer — who’s been at the company for two years — will show solid improvements at Yahoo’s core ad-supported businesses. The stock is down nearly 12% so far in 2014 as people lose patience, and fear what will happen now that it has to reduce its 24% stake in Alibaba, which is seen as a success.
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FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period After “Overwhelming Surge” Of Responses Crash Its Site

By | Tuesday July 15, 2014 @ 11:03am PDT

FCC Extends Net Neutrality Comment Period After “Overwhelming Surge” Of Responses Crash Its SiteToday was supposed to be the deadline for people to respond to the FCC’s proposed open Internet rules — the ones that HBO’s John Oliver famously lambasted last month. But the agency extended the comment period to midnight on Friday after “an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website” made it “difficult for many people to file comments” on the FCC’s electronic filing system, it says today. “Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record,” the agency says, adding that people also can contribute to the public record by emailing their views to openinternet@fcc.gov.

The public response could be unusually important to the proceedings because the commission itself is so divided on a key question: Should it reclassify the Internet as a kind of telecom service, which the FCC can clearly regulate, or keep it defined as an information service, which requires the agency to take a lighter touch? In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC remanded the net neutrality rules the FCC adopted in 2010 saying that they overreached the agency’s authority over an information service. Two of the Democratic commissioners are open to reclassifying the Internet. But the two GOP members strongly oppose that. Chairman Tom Wheeler steered a middle course. He proposed extensive changes without reclassifying the Web — but said that he considers it an option.

Open Internet advocates say that … 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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Hearst Launches Subscription VOD Streaming Service: CosmoBody

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 4:13pm PDT

Hearst Launches Subscription VOD Streaming Service: CosmoBodyThe $9.95 a month service (with a 10-day free trial), kicks off tomorrow — and may be most noteworthy as the first of several planned specialty video offerings from Hearst Digital Studios. “The CosmoBody channel is part of a larger umbrella strategy around the Cosmo brand, and an excellent template for how Hearst Magazines and the Studios will work together going forward,” says Hearst Magazines President David Carey. Other SVOD ventures will come from within Hearst, and with outside partners, and are designed to be available to subscribers “on any platform or device, at any time, anywhere in the world,” says Hearst Digital’s Neeraj Khemlani, who’s also co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.

The former Yahoo News exec describes CosmoBody as a “Netflix for fitness and lifestyle content.” It will feature workout videos, dating advice, and food and fashion information. Programming will come from Mark Burnett’s VIMBY studios (a partnership with Hearst), and will be updated daily. CosmoBody will feature eight trainers ( Jennifer Johnson, Astrid Swan McGuire, Adam Rosante, Ary Nunez, Don Saladino, Tara Stiles, Katia Pryce,  and Rique Uresti), and food blogger Camille Becerra. Programming titles include Wowza Wedding Body, Sexier by Saturday, and Revenge Body.

Hearst hopes to make CosmoBody available to TV streaming devices such as Roku and Apple TV by mid-September.

Hearst has a lot riding on the initiative. The premium SVOD strategy sets the publisher apart from others that have tried to adapt to digital media by selling ads for text or a combination of text and video, or put their packages behind pay walls. … Read More »

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Court OKs TV Streaming From Dish Network’s Hopper DVR

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 3:01pm PDT

Court OKs TV Streaming From Dish Network’s Hopper DVRFox once again failed to persuade a court to stop the No. 2 satellite company from helping its subscribers stream TV shows from their home DVRs.  The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2013 District Court decision that rejected Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction while it debates whether it’s legal for Dish customers to use their Hopper DVRs to transfer shows to different rooms, or stream them to smartphones, tablets and other digital devices. The broadcaster said it would lose advertising and negotiating clout if the service continued while the trial proceeds. The District Court said Fox had failed to prove its point. Appeals court Judge Dolly Gee says today that the lower court ”committed no legal error and made no clearly erroneous factual findings in so ruling.”

Fox says that while it’s “disappointed” in the ruling “it is not unexpected, as the bar for a preliminary injunction is extremely high.” The company adds that it “had nothing to do with the merits of our claim and does not address the fact that ‘Dish Anywhere’ is both illegal and in violation of our existing distribution agreement. We will now move forward and fully expect to prevail at trial.”

But Dish General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge trumpeted “the fifth in a string of victories for consumers” in challenges to its Hopper DVR. “We will continue to vigorously defend consumers’ right to choice and control over their viewing experience.” Sling introduced its streaming technology to the consumer market in 2005.

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Apple Could Sell More Than 40M iWatches At $300 Apiece: Analyst

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 1:10pm PDT

Apple Could Sell More Than 40M iWatches At $300 Apiece: AnalystI know, Apple hasn’t even confirmed that it will introduce an iWatch. Yet Wall Street is all about expectations, and Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty is so confident that the iWatch will be a hit that she raised her target stock price for the company today — helping it to touch a 52-week high of $96.89 before closing at $96.33, +1.2%. “We view the Apple ‘halo effect’ rather than the current watch market as the more accurate predictor of iWatch sales,” she says. In her first forecast for the product, she figures Apple could sell as many as 60M iWatches in its first 12 months in the market at an average of $300 apiece — as much as half the price going straight to Apple’s bottom line. Consumers would wear a watch “with more sensors, and better form factor and aesthetics than competing devices in the market priced at $100-$250,” she says.
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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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Fox Sells Bona Film Group Stake As Distributor Consolidates Ownership In China

Fox Sells Bona Film Group Stake As Distributor Consolidates Ownership In ChinaU.S. shares of China’s Bona Film Group are up 7.7% this morning after the distributor announced two deals that help to consolidate ownership: Its founder and CEO, Yu Dong, agreed to pay $71.4M for the 19.3% stake owned by 21st Century Fox. Separately, Bona plans to sell a 13.3% interest to a Chinese investment group, Fosun Group, which already owns 7.5% of Bona. When the dust settles, the Bona chief will own about 32.3% and Fosun will have 20.8%. Fosun’s deal follows its agreement last month to invest in Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. 

Fox (in its earlier incarnation as News Corp) bought its stake in Bona in May 2012 and later that year announced a multi-picture agreement to co-produce Chinese language films. The companies say today that Fox’s sale of its Bona stake “has no effect on the five film co-productions … or on the robust pipeline.” One of their co-productions, Bride Wars, began principal photography last month. It’s “the first of our five co-production projects with 21st Century Fox, and we are confident it will be a tremendous success, as it will appeal to the fast growing younger Chinese audience, one of the most important audience groups that we want to capture in today’s market,” Bona’s Yu says. 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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FCC Creates Timetable For Closed Captioning In TV Clips That Run Online

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 1:40pm PDT

FCC Creates Timetable For Closed Captioning In TV Clips That Run OnlineWeb videos taken from shows that aired on TV with closed captioning also will have to offer the text option online, the FCC ruled today. “Americans living with intellectual and physical disabilities stand to benefit the most from broadband-enabled technologies but are among the least connected segments of our society,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says.

Congress authorized the rule making in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which is designed to promote equal access to all forms of programming. In 2012 the FCC required closed captioning in full-length TV shows offered online but not in clips. Read More »

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Relativity Prepares To Sell ArtistDirect

Relativity Prepares To Sell ArtistDirectRyan Kavanaugh‘s company is in late-stage discussions to sell the music information and download service to an undisclosed buyer for about $1M, I’m told. Relativity Digital is preparing to unload a collection of sites in the deal including artistdirect.com, musicandirect.net, ubl.com, ultimatemusic.com, and playlisted.com. The tiny price suggests how hard it’s been to stand out in a music market dominated by services including Apple’s iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. Relativity bought ArtistDirect for well under $1M in January 2010, months after the music service delisted its stock. In its last annual report, ArtistDirect said it generated $12.1M in revenues in 2008 — but with nearly $48M in losses.

The sale comes amid other changes at Relativity Digital. On June 13, Randall Cox quietly left as president of the operation. He hasn’t been directly replaced; the unit is being overseen by the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer Angela Courtin. Relativity still intends to expand its presence in digital, a source at the company says. Earlier this year it offered about $1B in its privately held stock for online video power Maker Studios, which accepted a lower cash bid from Disney. It also made a run at multinetwork web video company Fullscreen.

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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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FTC Sues Amazon To Refund Kids’ Unauthorized App Purchases

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 10:38am PDT

FTC Sues Amazon To Refund Kids’ Unauthorized App PurchasesAmazon should refund millions of dollars to parents charged for unauthorized purchases by their kids, the Federal Trade Commission says in a complaint it filed today at a U.S. District Court in Washington state. The agency is concerned about in-app orders in games, where it says Amazon keeps 30% of the charges. Kids often didn’t know that real money was involved when they played games for “virtual items within the apps such as ‘coins,’ ‘stars,’ and ‘acorns’ without parental involvement,” the FTC says. The problem goes back to November 2011 when Amazon introduced in-app charges to its Appstore, without password requirements. “Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created,” says FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “We are seeking refunds for affected parents and a court order to ensure that Amazon gets parents’ consent for in-app purchases.”

Amazon told the FTC in a letter last week that it would defend itself against the charges, which it called “deeply disappointing.” Its policies were “responsible, customer-focused and lawful” and included “prominent notice of in-app purchasing, effective parental controls, real-time notice of every in-app purchase, and world-class customer service,” it says.

But the FTC complaint paints a different picture with the app for “Ice Age Village” which enables players to make virtual purchases for items in the game without charge using “coins” and “acorns.” The problem is that it also allows users to buy these coins and acorns “using real money on a screen that is visually similar to the one that has no real-money … Read More »

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Aereo Says Court Decision Entitles It To License Network Programming

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

Aereo Says Court Decision Entitles It To License Network ProgrammingUPDATE: Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia has sent a message to “users and supporters” with a link to today’s letter to the court that outlines the company’s new position. “From the beginning, it has been our mission to build a lawful technology that would provide consumers with more choice and alternatives in how they watch television,” he says. The Supreme Court decision against Aereo resulted in “a challenging journey for our team, but your support has continued to lift and propel us forward. We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for consumers.”

PREVIOUS, 4:14 PM: The Supreme Court‘s recent ruling against Aereo may have left an opening for it to stay in business — but now as a kind of cable service – its lawyers said today in a joint letter with broadcasters outlining their views to the U.S. District Court in New York. (Find it here.) The high court concluded that the streaming service was so similar to cable companies, which are required to negotiate a deal if they want to carry broadcasters’ programming, that it could not simply pluck signals from the airwaves without paying. That’s significant, Aereo says, because the classification also means that it’s “now entitled” to work out a deal — which broadcasters, in turn, must negotiate in good faith. Indeed, Aereo says, its eligibility for what’s known as a compulsory license “must be decided on an immediate basis or [its] survival as a company will be in jeopardy.” It suspended service shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

Broadcasters say that Aereo, having lost once, is now raising “a brand-new defense” that it “never before pled (much less litigated).” Read More »

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Global Eagle Entertainment Taps Dave Davis To Be CEO

global eagleTo refresh everyone’s memory: Global Eagle is the airline entertainment and Internet company founded by former CBS and Sony exec Jeff Sagansky and former MGM chief Harry Sloan. They, along with others on the board, just gave the company’s pilot wings to Dave Davis, who was CFO and COO after serving for years as CFO of Northwest Airlines. He spent most of his career in finance, and helped Northwest navigate its merger with Delta. Davis replaces John LaValle, who will continue to serve the company as a consultant.

“I initially invested in Global Eagle because I saw so much potential for delivering content thru digital delivery to airline passengers getting connected ” Sloan says. “Since then, Global Eagle has become the dominant player in delivering movies, TV series and games to the commercial airline industry. As airline connectivity becomes more ubiquitous around the world, the demand for content will be even greater, and Dave’s excellent relationships with the airlines will serve Global Eagle well, as he leads our expansion.”

Davis may have to steer  Global Eagle through some choppy air. The company’s stock price is -23% so far in 2014 as it competes with rivals including Gogo and Panasonic to connect and serve planes in flight. But Global Eagle — which reaches planes via satellite transmissions, not terrestrial ones – hopes to gain altitude from a deal to serve Southwest Airlines, and other overseas airlines. The company reported a loss of $26.3M on revenues of nearly $86M … 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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Business Briefs: Lenny Daniels To Run Turner Sports; Tribune Expands TV Data Services Overseas

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 11:03am PDT

Lenny Daniels To Run Turner Sports

Turner Sports logoThis is a promotion for Lenny Daniels, who was EVP and COO of Turner Broadcasting System’s sports operation. He’ll handle day-to-day management and continue to work with TBS President David Levy on strategic issues including acquisitions, programming and expanding sports media rights. Daniels helped negotiate TBS’ 2012 deal with Major League Baseball, the 2010 agreement with the NCAA to offer Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and the 2012 acquisition Bleacher Report, a sports Web site.

Tribune Digital Ventures Acquires What’s-ON

Image (2) Tribune-Digital__140403154655-275x114.jpg for post 709077The $27M deal is the Chicago-based media company’s latest effort to establish itself as a power in TV metadata, including information for onscreen program guides.  What’s-ON provides that data for cable and TV services in 16 countries including India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. The transaction means “we will have a new presence in markets with significant opportunity,” CEO Peter Liguori says. What’s-ON’s management will stay with the operation which will continue to operate from Mumbai.

Ross Levinsohn Joins DramaFever Board

Ross LevinsohnThis is an interesting choice for the media exec who recently left as chief of Guggenheim Digital Media, and previously served as Yahoo’s interim CEO, and president of Fox Interactive Media. DramaFever is an online video service (with subscription and ad-supported free options) that syndicates programming from around the world, … 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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