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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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Ready For Media Merger Mania? An Analyst Examines Some Possibilities

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 3:40pm PDT

merger acquisition handshakeThis is the time of year when deal speculation usually percolates: Moguls always have mergers on their minds as they prepare to huddle in early July at Allen & Co’s Sun Valley gathering for the media elite. And content companies have to be thinking more seriously than usual about their options. Their bargaining power could soon diminish if Washington regulators allow Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable, AT&T buy DirecTV, and — perhaps — Sprint buy T-Mobile.

What deals make sense? Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible tiptoed out on a limb today by making a serious attempt to answer the question — with some potentially surprising conclusions. Here are the ones that seem to offer the greatest strategic and financial benefits:

CBS and Viacom: A re-combination of Sumner Redstone’s companies “increases CBS’ exposure to affiliate fees, allows it to leverage sports/retrans across networks, provides studio content, and greatly increases its European ad exposure,” Wible says. The companies also could look for ways to harmonize Showtime with Epix (which Viacom owns with Lionsgate and MGM). A possible problem? It would be “a massive deal for CBS” which has a lower market value than Viacom.

Discovery and Scripps Networks: It would “greatly increase [Discovery's] share around non-scripted programming” although Scripps’ home, food, and lifestyle fare “may not export into international markets as seamlessly, which has been an important part of [Discovery's] current growth strategy.”

Disney and Discovery: Disney would gain viewers in Europe, and would especially enjoy blending ESPN … Read More »

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WGA Urges FCC to Block Comcast- Time Warner Cable Merger

By | Sunday March 23, 2014 @ 6:54am PDT

WGABy David Robb, Special To Deadline

RELATED: WGA West & WGA East Slam Merger Of Comcast And Time Warner Cable

EXCLUSIVE: The Writers Guild of America has offered a chilling picture of the future of television to the Federal Communications Commission in a bid to block the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger.

In February, Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion in a deal that would combine the two largest cable companies in the United States. The deal must still be approved by the FCC.

“The FCC should deny the proposed merger,” the WGA said in a brief filed with the FCC on Friday, noting that the merged entity “would control almost 30%” of the cable and satellite TV market.

Such a merger, the guild argued, “would give too much power over broadcast and cable networks. Comcast’s ability to blackout one-third of television viewers would force networks to agree to terms and rates set by Comcast, harming investment in programming.”

COMCASTA merged Comcast-Time Warner would also control approximately 30% of the broadband Internet market, the guild said, “giving the company the means to limit competition from online video providers like Netflix and Amazon. Comcast has already demonstrated its inclination for anti-competitive behavior by exempting its own streaming service from data caps when watched on an Xbox, while applying data caps to competing services.”

In economic terms, the guild told … Read More »

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Cable Or Satellite Mergers Would Have Little Impact On Programming Prices: Analyst

Liberty Media’s John Malone and other execs are pounding the drums for cable and satellite companies to merge — in part to help hold down their rising programming costs. You’d expect outlays to fall as big companies apply the relatively low rates they pay across a larger collection of subscribers. But International Strategy & Investment Group analyst Vijay Jayant says today that the net shift in value to distributors from programmers would not be meaningful. AMC Networks, Viacom and Fox likely would see the greatest loss in their values while CBS, Discovery, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal would see the least. (He looks at outlays for basic channels; prices for premium services, regional sports networks, and VOD likely wouldn’t be affected by mergers.) If Charter joins Time Warner Cable, the blended company would save about $532M in 2014 as monthly programming outlays for their estimated 15.4M customers fall to $27.92 per subscriber from $30.80. By 2018 the savings would rise to $903M as the combo paid $38.08 instead of $43.21 for 14.7M customers. If DirecTV merged with Dish Network the satellite companies could save $525M next year, with costs dropping to $33.99 per sub from $35.28 for 34.1M customers. Read More »

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Dealmakers Will Target Entertainment Firms As Hunger For Content Grows: Forecast

By | Monday April 22, 2013 @ 9:01pm PDT

This will be a good year for content creators to put themselves on the block, researchers at PwC project today in a report about likely M&A activity in 2013. Corporate and private equity firms will be looking to bulk up on entertainment, driven in part by tech companies’ need for content that provides “a level of security on prospective cash flows,” the analysis says. Entertainment, media and communications companies “are ahead of the pack in pursuing deals, partnerships and joint ventures to address the accelerated pace of change in consumer behavior,” says PwC U.S. entertainment and media deals partner Bart Spiegel. “Media companies are investing in robust content-management systems and dynamic analytics to not only operate efficiently but also to take advantage of new opportunities.” Some buyers will want entertainment to serve growing overseas markets led by the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). PwC’s bullish forecast follows a robust year for dealmakers: There were 40 film/content transactions last year with a collective value of $9B — including Disney’s $4.1B acquisition of Lucasfilm — the report says. That’s up from 2011, when the industry had 39 deals valued at $1.1B. Forecasters also expect to see additional deals in cable (with buyers attracted to systems’ broadband services), broadcasting (another way to secure distribution) and publishing (Time Warner and Tribune are preparing to sell assets). 

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SAG Anti-Merger Rally Lacks Star Power

By | Thursday March 22, 2012 @ 3:36pm PDT

Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor
About 25 anti-merger SAG members marched in front of the guild’s offices on Wilshire this afternoon, just more than a week before the union votes March 30 on the SAG-AFTRA tie-up. Noticably absent were the likes of Martin Sheen, Ed Harris and other celebrities who have taken to the courts to stop the vote (a judge is expected to issue an order on an injunction at some point in time). Those who did show up chanted anti-merger slogans and pounded on small drums. ”We want to raise aweness of how this will adversely effect member’s pension plans and health plans,” organizer Scott Pierce told Deadline. Merger supporters were on hand as well. “I know some are opposed to the merger, like the people here today, who we’ve seen out before, but remember people like George Clooney and Tom Hanks are very much for it,” said Gabrielle Carteris, AFTRA’s LA president and national VP. “This is a democratic process. Members know it and the judge knows it.” The rally broke up around 3 PM.

SAG-AFTRA Merger: Pro And Con Videos
SAG-AFTRA Pro- and Anti-Merger Websites

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SAG-AFTRA Merger Ballots Mailed Out

By | Tuesday February 28, 2012 @ 2:29pm PST

SAG-AFTRA Pro- And Anti-Merger Websites

LOS ANGELES – The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild on Monday sent out ballots to approximately 131,000 members of both organizations.

The mailer included full details of the proposed SAG-AFTRA merger, including the Merger Agreement and Constitution, which were overwhelmingly approved by both unions’ national boards in January, as well as a Pension & Health/Health & Retirement Feasibility Report.

Members may also review the ballot package at, view a livestream informational meeting on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT, and attend upcoming local informational meetings to ask questions. Ballots must be received at the assigned post office box no later than 10 a.m. PDT, March 30.

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