4TH UPDATE: Issuing a statement to South African newspaper The Star and ABC News, SA-born PR pro Justine Sacco apologized for the offensive AIDS Tweet that led to her firing from IAC over the weekend: “Words cannot express how sorry I am, and how necessary it is for me to apologize to the people of South Africa, who I have offended due to a needless and careless tweet. There is an AIDS crisis taking place in this country, that we read about in America, but do not live with or face on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, it is terribly easy to be cavalier about an epidemic that one has never witnessed firsthand.
“For being insensitive to this crisis – which does not discriminate by race, gender or sexual orientation, but which terrifies us all uniformly – and to the millions of people living with the virus, I am ashamed.
“This is my father’s country, and I was born here. I cherish my ties to South Africa and my frequent visits, but I am in anguish knowing that my remarks have caused pain to so many people here; my family, friends and fellow South Africans. I am very sorry for the pain I caused.”
3RD UPDATE, SATURDAY PM: Justine Sacco has been swiftly sacked by Barry Diller‘s IAC a day after posting her controversial AIDS Tweet. “The … Read More »
With fifteen months to go on Ben Silverman‘s current deal with Barry Diller’s IAC, the Electus founder and chairman is deep in negotiations with IAC about an extension. The talks are drawing a lot of attention and speculation that his relationship with IAC could be transformed into a pod deal. I hear the talks are far more complicated and include Electus taking on more digital business and branching into new areas, including management. While Silverman’s previous company, Reveille, made its name early on in scripted with The Office and Ugly Betty, Electus has largely been building an unscripted and digital portfolio. The company has a new drama series, Killer Women, on ABC this fall. I hear under the current setup, Silverman has no producing participation in Electus’ series, something that is subject of the ongoing extension negotiations, especially on the scripted side. According to IAC, Electus has doubled its revenue in the past year.
Barry Diller‘s IAC/Interactivecorp has offered the New York Times Co more than $300 million for the information site portal About.com, Reuters reports. That’s higher than the $270 million offer the NYT has preliminarily accepted from Answers.com, whose President Peter Horan previously served as head of About.com. The fortunes of About.com, which makes its money by selling ads against its content, have soured against competition from Google, so NYT Co wrote down the value of About by $195 million. NYT paid $410 million for About in 2005. The NYT has not solicited bids but IAC, Demand Media and others had approached the publisher, Reuters says, and interested buyers feel the price is low and can easily be matched. Despite IAC’s higher offer, the NYT has not responded. IAC wants to combine About.com with Ask.com which has evolved to a question-and-answer style service that could leverage About.com content.
The news comes from IAC/InterActiveCorp chief Barry Diller in a conference call with analysts to discuss his company’s earnings. Newsweek/Daily Beast is “squarely on our heads,” he said following the recent decision by the family of Sidney Harman to pull back its funding for the joint venture. Diller says that IAC also won’t “contribute to the losses of the business as they’ve been this year…Our investment next year will be considerably less.” Does that mean Diller will scrap the print publication, and just offer news and commentary online? Not clear. “The transition will happen,” Diller says although he adds “I’m not saying it will happen totally.” But either late this year or early next “it’ll be different. I can’t tell you in what ways.” The problem is that advertising in newsweeklies is “entirely elective.” Yet he praised editor Tina Brown’s efforts. “The brand is stronger than when we acquired it,” he says. “There’s been true improvement in the book. Tina Brown and her staff have done a superb job.” Although IAC doesn’t breakout financials for Newsweek/Daily Beast, it said this morning that the inclusion of the property in the Q2 results contributed to higher losses for the Media group. IAC took an $18.6M pre-tax non-cash charge to recognize the declining value of its investment in the property.
Related: Barry Diller And Scott Rudin In Talks To Launch E-Book Business