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Christine Zosche

Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony to Release The Interview | Disney, DirecTV Strike Deal

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Sony Backtracks, Will Release The Interview After All (PRNewser)
We all got our wish: The Interview will be available in limited release on Christmas Day. NYT The development gave new life to a film that Sony had pulled from distribution last week, after hackers threatened violence against any theater that played it. Sony also left open the door to video-on-demand availability of the movie, either simultaneously with its debut in theaters, or nearly so. THR Theaters showing The Interview are expected to put added security measures in place. Sony, though, isn’t planning to assist the theaters with added security, leaving it up to theater owners to foot the bill, per normal practice, insiders say. Variety The White House has issued a strong statement of support for Sony Pictures’ decision to release the film on Christmas Day. GalleyCat The PEN American Center sent a letter addressed to the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Michael Lynton, to protest against Sony’s censorship of the film last week. The organization has posted the full piece on its website. FishbowlDC A petition titled ”We the undersigned support Sony” also emerged in which backers claimed to ”support theatrical engagements of The Interview should Sony, at its sole discretion, decide to release it to theaters.”

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Columbia to Review UVA Rape Story | TWC-Comcast Merger Halted

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Rolling Stone Asks Columbia to Investigate Botched UVA Rape Story (FishbowlNY)
Rolling Stone has asked Columbia University to figure out just how badly it botched its UVA rape story. Capital New York The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism will conduct an independent investigation into the reporting process of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s feature on sexual assault at the University of Virginia. HuffPost Rolling Stone apologized on Dec. 5 after several news organizations revealed problems in contributing editor Erdely’s article. However, the magazine has not fully retracted the story. Since the apology, Rolling Stone editors and Erdely have declined to comment on the article, citing an internal review process. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The Washington Post and other publications have been re-reporting the events described in the piece and have found several striking inconsistencies, including that several people quoted in the article were never actually contacted by the magazine and that the accused rapists were also never contacted. NYT Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone’s editor and publisher, said that the review would be led by Steve Coll, the journalism school’s dean, and Sheila Coronel, the dean of academic affairs, and that it would evaluate “the editorial process that led to the publication of the story.” The report will be published unedited and in its entirety on Rolling Stone’s website, and excerpts will appear in the magazine.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Hackers Applaud Sony | Fox News, FBN Pulled From Dish

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Hackers to Sony: We’ll Stand Down if You Never Release Movie (CNN)
The hackers behind a devastating cyberattack at Sony Pictures have sent a new message to executives at the company, crediting them for a “very wise” decision to cancel the Christmas day release of The Interview, a source close to the company said. TVNewser The emails, sent Thursday night, included the message “you’ve done the right thing.” The emails suggested information stolen during the hack could be released if Sony fails to ensure that the film is never seen. Re/code In an interview on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday, David Boies, the studio’s lawyer, said The Interview will be released. “Sony has been fighting to get this picture distributed. It will be distributed,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd, adding the studio is still trying to determine the best distribution outlet that would also ensure people’s safety. THR / AP North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack, warning of “serious” consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack. The proposal was seen by analysts as a typical ploy by the North to try to show that it is sincere, even though it knows the U.S. would never accept its offer for a joint investigation. U.S. officials blame North Korea for the hacking, citing the tools used in the Sony attack and previous hacks linked to the North, and have vowed to respond. TMZ According to sources connected with the studio, Judy Smith — the inspiration behind the Olivia Pope character on Scandal – has been quietly advising Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: White House Talks Sony Attack | Abrams to Leave Nightline

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White House Approaching Sony Hack as ‘National Security Issue’ (THR)
During a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the hacking of Sony’s internal computer system has become a “national security issue” involving federal law enforcement and diplomatic personnel. Earnest also confirmed revelations from the latest batch of internal Sony emails released by the hackers that two members of the administration had screened “a rough cut” of The Interview – the impending release of which may have prompted the attack — at Sony’s request, but Earnest said Thursday that they had made no recommendations about changes or how to proceed. Time Earnest said there have been a number of daily meetings at the White House about the hack, and that there are “a range of options that are under consideration right now” for a response. Earnest would not rule out a U.S. cyber counterattack on those behind the Sony hack, saying officials are mindful of the need for a “proportional response.” The Washington Post Public attribution of the attack could come as early as this week, one national security official said. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that the government of Kim Jong Un is behind the attack. North Korea has publicly denied involvement. The attack came in apparent retaliation for Sony’s planned Christmas Day release of The Interview, a comedy built around the assassination of the North Korean leader. PRNewser The group (or country) behind the massive Sony hack sent out a warning that there would be repercussions for any theater that shows The Interview on its screens. Right away, the largest theater companies, from AMC Entertainment to Regal Entertainment and beyond, said they wouldn’t show the film. So Sony killed the whole thing. The outrage from Hollywood has been fast and furious on Twitter, with many expressing anger and disappointment that there wouldn’t be a bigger stand for freedom of expression. Deadline Sony has no plans to release the film anywhere for the foreseeable future. The news comes despite the lack — at least in public — of the same kind of terrorist threat against Sony’s international operations as was made against the studio’s U.S. release. The Interview had been set to open across all major European territories in January and February. Those plans are now off.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony Pulls The Interview | 21st Century Fox Acquires TrueX

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9/11 Threats From Sony Hackers Cause Company to Drop The Interview (FishbowlNY)
In light of the recent threats of violence from those responsible for the ongoing cyber attacks against Sony Pictures (aka the “Guardians of Peace”), the company has decided to pull the plug on Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s latest movie, The Interview. The film was scheduled to premiere nationwide on Christmas day. PRNewser Tuesday, the hackers’ threats turned to violence, invoking 9/11 and implying that someone would attack theaters screening The Interview. The movie’s planned New York premiere was subsequently cancelled. Rogen and Franco also cancelled all further press dates. Time American officials have determined the government of North Korea is connected to the hack, a U.S. official confirmed Wednesday. Much remains unclear about the nature of North Korea’s involvement. The country, while lauding the hack against Sony, has denied being behind it. There were conflicting reports Wednesday evening, and officials are expected to unveil their findings Thursday. THR Sony decided to pull The Interview from all theaters Wednesday in response to the decision by the country’s major chains not to show the film. The country’s top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — chose to pull The Interview from their theaters Wednesday. Variety Sony is weighing releasing the film on premium video-on-demand, according to an insider. That would allow the studio to recoup some of the film’s $42 million budget and tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures. It would also enable the studio to experiment with the potential of VOD, something it has been hesitant to do at the risk of angering major exhibitors. TheWrap Wednesday, New Regency pulled the plug on its Steve Carell movie Pyongyang, which Gore Verbinski had been prepping for a March start date. Based on the graphic novel by Guy Delisle, Pyongyang is a paranoid thriller about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea for a year.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Hackers Threaten Violence Over Interview | NYT Layoffs Begin

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Sony Hackers Threaten Violence Over The Interview (Re/code)
A new message from the hackers who have infiltrated Sony Pictures Entertainment appeared to threaten violence at or near movie theaters where the studio plans to show The Interview. The group mentioned the film for the first time by name and threatened to take unspecified actions against its premiere, set for Dec. 25, writing, “The world will be full of fear” and “Remember the 11th of September.” WSJ A Department of Homeland Security official said Tuesday afternoon the agency was aware of the threat but added: “at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.” Variety “We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.) Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment,” the message reads. There have been suspicions that the attack may have been launched by North Korea in retaliation for the Interview’s depiction of an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un. The country has denied involvement but praised the attacks. THR The Sony hackers also made good on their promise to release a so-called Christmas gift by posting an eighth batch of documents to the Internet on Tuesday. The documents appear to be the entire email account of Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton. Lynton’s email account contains 12,466 messages, which presumably contains deleted messages, dating from Nov. 12, 2008 to Nov. 21, 2014, three days before the hack was first noticed by the studio. A special screening of the film took place in Los Angeles last week without incident. Deadline Landmark Theatres said Tuesday night that the New York premiere of the film has been canceled. The event was set for Thursday night at the Sunshine Cinema on the Lower East Side. BuzzFeed The film’s stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco, have withdrawn from all media appearances in the lead-up to the release of the film.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: NBC News Reups Williams | Jana Winter Joins The Intercept

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Brian Williams Signs New Deal With NBC (TVNewser)
NBC’s Brian Williams, who just celebrated 10 years as anchor of NBC Nightly News, has signed a new long-term deal with the network. THR Saying that he has “renewed his commitment” to the network’s news division, NBC News president Deborah Turness said in a staff memo that he will continue to serve as anchor and managing editor of the nightly broadcast “for years to come.” LA Times Though Williams will acknowledge only that it’s a long-term deal, insiders at the network say it will keep him at the helm of NBC Nightly News for at least five more years. He didn’t disclose his financial compensation, but it’s said to be more than $10 million a year. CNNMoney He is presently the longest-serving nightly news anchor, competing every weeknight against David Muir, who just took over ABC’s World News three months ago, and Scott Pelley, who became the anchor of the CBS Evening News three years ago. NYT The news ratings have been more competitive over the last year. This past summer, ABC’s newscast edged ahead of NBC for a number of weeks among the viewers most sought by news advertisers, those from the ages of 25 to 54. Williams continues to win virtually every week among total viewers, averaging more than 9 million a night, the program’s best total in almost a decade. In recent weeks he has also moved ahead again among the 25-54 group.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony Demands News Orgs. Delete Data | Denby to Step Down

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Sony Pictures Demands News Agencies Delete ‘Stolen’ Data (NYT)
Sony Pictures Entertainment warned media outlets on Sunday against using the mountains of corporate data revealed by hackers who raided the studio’s computer systems in an attack that became public last month. THR Sony Pictures Entertainment lawyer David Boies sent a letter to news organizations Sunday, referring to leaked Sony documents as “stolen information” and demanded that the files be ignored, or destroyed if they had already been downloaded. “We are writing to ensure that you are aware that SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use of the stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the stolen information,” the letter reads. Variety The security breach and subsequent data dump has made public such internal financial documents as film budgets, earnings statements and emails from top Sony executives. It’s also resulted in a series of embarrassing revelations such as an email exchange between Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin in which the two made a series of racially charged jokes about President Barack Obama’s favorite movies. Both Rudin and Pascal have since apologized. Deadline The Sony information continues to be released in batches from unknown sources, including one Sunday in an email to news organizations that included a link to more information cached in online sites and promised an unspecified “Christmas gift” to come. Re/code A group claiming responsibility for the devastating hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment on Sunday offered to selectively hold back on releasing email correspondence of its employees, provided that they write in and ask. The offer, apparently from the Guardians of Peace, a group that says it has carried out the attacks, marks a new twist in its ongoing campaign of embarrassing leaks of data stolen from the studio’s computers, now entering its third week.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Google News Axed in Spain | Sony Execs Apologize for Emails

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Google News to Shut Down in Spain Over ‘Google Tax’ (Mashable)
Google said Thursday it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers’ content from appearing on it — ahead of a new law requiring the Internet search company to pay Spanish news organizations for linked content or snippets of news. NYT / Bits The website, which compiles headlines and summaries of news articles from various sources, will go dark in Spain on Dec. 16. Google plans to shut the site there in protest of the new law. The rules, which come into force in January, do not specify how much Google and others like Yahoo! News would have to pay per article. But they carry a potential one-time $750,000 fine if companies do not comply with the law. WSJ / Digits Google also is removing Spanish publishers from Google News world-wide. Those publications will still show up in general Google searches, but that’s less significant than it appears. That’s because the news “cluster” that appears with many general search results is fed by Google News. So if Spanish publishers are excluded from Google News, they won’t appear in the news cluster of ordinary search results — meaning much less traffic from Google. GigaOM Spain is not the first European country to pass a so-called ancillary copyright law — Germany did so in March 2013 — but Spain’s version is much more heavy-handed. Variety In Germany, the ancillary copyright law, introduced in July after lobbying by VG Media and backed by Axel Springer, obliged Google to pay publishers for news snippet texts on its search engine. After Google News removed the snippets from its search engine, traffic to publishers’ websites fell by 40 percent over two weeks. VG Media was forced to authorize the snippets. Demonstrating Google’s massive market power, Axel Springer CEO Mathias Dopfer dubbed its move to charge for snippets “the most successful failure in our history.”

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Gawker Shakes Up Leadership | Guardian EIC to Step Down

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Gawker Makes Leadership Changes (FishbowlNY)
Nick Denton has announced some major changes to the leadership structure at Gawker Media. Instead of Denton having all the oversight, a collective of seven managing partners (including Denton) “will consult on major matters such as tech investments and the reassignment of department heads,” according to a memo. NYT The move was in part because of the company’s editorial failures in the last year. Denton said he would stay on as chief executive and remain involved in the company’s future, but that recent failures in management had shown he needed more support. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The move, Denton said, was part of an effort to scale back his day-to-day managerial roles and return to blogging, which he called “the only truly new media in the age of the Web” and “the essential act of journalism in an interactive and conversational age.” The move also suggests that Gawker Media may be gearing up for an acquisition or merger of some sort. Denton said that no such activity was afoot. GigaOM The new management structure will make it easier to respond to the increasing competitive threat from sites like BuzzFeed and Vox, Denton said, since decisions will be made by the committee as a whole rather than everyone having to try and get the founder’s attention at the same time. The new group includes former Deadspin editor Tommy Craggs as head of editorial operations, effectively replacing editor-in-chief Joel Johnson, who announced recently that he had been fired. Capital New York The rest of the managing board includes president Heather Dietrick, chief strategy officer Erin Pettigrew, advertising head Andrew Gorenstein, chief operating officer Scott Kidder and chief technology officer Tom Plunkett, who will continue to work on the product side but shed the title of CTO. The memo also mentions that Gawker’s revenues are up 30 percent year-over-year and the company has hired Paul Sundue to head Studio@Gawker, the company’s in-house native advertising agency.

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