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Let’s Make a Deal…

Blip Partners with My Damn Channel

When we recently spoke with blip.tv CEO Kelly Day, she talked about the competitive landscape. Just a few weeks later, at the turn of her one-year anniversary with the company, she has cleverly tilted that landscape by partnering with My Damn Channel.

The two leading Web series broadcasters are joining forces for new seasons of the My Damn Channel hits Wainy Days and Daddy Knows Best as well as a pair of new original series currently under development. The latter tandem will be shown exclusively for 30 days on the two company websites. And that’s not all. From today’s announcement:

For the first time, select series from the My Damn Channel library (going back to 2007) will be available on Blip, including premium programming never before been seen by the Blip audience… “We want people who love comedy to discover great new shows and share them with their friends, and this partnership helps us do that,” said Day.

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SpinMedia Scoops Up VIBE

And then there were 46. That’s the total number of editorial properties under the SpinMedia umbrella now that the company has acquired VIBE magazine.

It’s not entirely clear, just like when the company bought SPIN magazine, whether the print version will survive long-term. The deal encompasses the magazine as well as vibe.com and vibevixen.com. From this morning’s announcement:

“We’re on a mission to transform the native digital media model in our category and VIBE is an exciting addition to our family of owned and operated brands,” said Stephen Hansen, SpinMedia CEO. “Similar to SPIN, Vibe is a transformative force in the music landscape elevating and spotlighting urban culture.”

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Jeff Bercovici Tries to Answer Billion-Dollar LAT Question

In the wake of this weekend’s highly shared New York Times piece about the Koch brothers’ interest in Tribune Co. newspapers, Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici handicaps the overall billionaire odds. Because the Kochs have an alleged interest in the entire Tribune Co. print slate, he places them at the top of the list as an even-money bet.

Less convincing is Bercovici’s stubborn inclusion of David Geffen at 20:1. It seems pretty clear that the one-time suitor has lost all interest in the LA Times, but let the record show that if Geffen does indeed reveal he was putting forth a poker face, Bercovici wasn’t fooled.

At the bottom of Bercovici’s list is Warren Buffett:

Odds he’ll get it: 50:1. The Times just doesn’t fit the profile at all of the type of newspaper Buffett’s been buying. He’s looking to roll up papers in small, semi-isolated cities and towns that have a quasi-monopoly on local news. It would be shocking if he didn’t sit this one out.

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CJR Searches for Koch Brothers-LAT Clues

Sasha Chavkin’s piece for the Columbia Journalism Review is a really good example of how to go a little further with a developing media story. Rather than pile on with some sort of vague doomsday Koch brothers op ed, the correspondent for CJR’s United States Project took a look at the duo’s closest current equivalent of Tribune Co./LA Times ownership.

It’s called the Franklin Center for Public and Government Integrity. It was founded in 2009. And, from a prospective LAT standpoint, the key is the organization’s offshoot watchdog.org:

The Franklin Center, in turn, created a website of state-based reporting, called watchdog.org – fed by “a network of journalists reporting on state and local governments.” The watchdog.org site serves as a hub for stories from Watchdog outlets in 23 states…

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Eli Broad Confirms His Interest in LA Times

Austin Beutner was front and center in LA Weekly‘s recent look at potential LA Times bidders. Tonight, he is connected once again to billionaire Eli Broad and the non-profit vision previously outlined by Hillel Aron.

The big difference is that Broad is now making it official. From The Hollywood Reporter item by west coast business editor Paul Bond:

“Mr. Broad has always believed in local ownership of the Times and would be interested in joining with others to buy the paper,” Broad spokeswoman Karen Denne tells THR.

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San Diego Columnist Chuckles at Koch-Manchester-Tribune Rumors

We’ve moved from a dollop of salt to a giant pepper grinder. At least that’s the view of Doug Porter, who offers a hilarious quick-take reaction in the San Diego Free Press to the wave of coverage sparked by Hillel Aron’s barn-busting LA Weekly item:

The rumor mills continue unabated, like a distracted waiter with an oversized pepper grinder ruining a Caesar salad at a faux fine dining restaurant. My favorite take of the day on the latest LA Times speculation was in Forbes:

LA Weekly pegs the price of the Tribune newspaper group at about $600 million. By my calculations, that’s a little more than Charles and David pull in dividends from Koch Industries each year — after reinvesting 90% of the profits back in the business. So no question they can swing it. But after a career of successfully investing in businesses that make money, I am not sure Charles Koch wants into this one.”

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Report: Koch Brothers Circling Tribune Co. Assets

Ha ha. Hillel Aron, ably working the LA Times transition-phase beat for LA Weekly, warns that today’s reported rumblings should probably be taken not so much with a grain of salt but rather a dollop of it. Nonetheless, with Tribune Co. reps having recently hinted they would prefer to find a single buyer for the company’s entire daisy chain of newspaper assets, this makes a lot of on-newsprint sense:

Multiple sources tell LA Weekly that Charles and David Koch — the infamous right-wing billionaire brothers — are considering an offer on either the Tribune Co. newspaper group, which includes the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun or the entire Tribune Co., which includes more than 20 stations like WGN and KTLA Channel 5.

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Five Takeaways from LA Weekly’s Fabulous LA Times Feature

Timing is everything. Just a few days before this week’s LA Weekly article “Who Will Buy the LA Times?” by Hillel Aron, CNBC broke the news that JPMorgan and Evercore will be handling the sale of the paper and other Tribune Co. assets.

That context gives the piece some extra urgency, and from this excellent bit of work by Aron, we were most struck by the following:

Richest Man in LA vs. Richest Man in the World: Aron references Patrick Soon-Shiong (pictured) in connection with former mayoral candidate Austin Beutner’s effort to put together a stealth group of combined LAT buyers. Surprisingly (at least to us), nowhere in the article does Carlos Slim come up, the man responsible for the relaunch of Larry King and much more. Aron confirms to FishbowlLA that it was not a case of being edited out; “no one ever mentioned Slim,” the writer says.

Two Shades of WSJ: The article characterizes Rupert Murdoch as the man who could potentially outbid everyone, with media expert Ken Doctor telling Aron the Wall Street Journal owner remains the odds-on favorite to acquire the newspaper. Doctor also thinks the two publications’ editorial and ad operations could be streamlined in a number of intriguing ways.

Which is perhaps ironic, because Aron also reminds that Times publisher and Tribune Co. CEO Eddie Hartenstein took a lot of flack internally for his decision to allow the Journal to print at the LAT, bumping the paper’s daily schedule down and “ruining its time-zone advantage over east coast papers.”

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Tribune Co.’s New CEO Chats with KTLA

Tonight on KTLA, both the intro and content of one particular report hit closer to home than usual. As anchor Micah Ohlman put it, “Cher Calvin is here now with the face of Tribune’s future…”

It’s a good-looking, 52-year-old face, framed by prominent black eyebrows. When Calvin asked newly appointed Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori, formerly with FOX Broadcasting, Discovery Communications and OWN, “What changes can loyal KTLA viewers expect?”, he answered the best possible programming and some real risk-taking. Shortly thereafter, Calvin intoned: “So stay tuned as KTLA, Tribune and you continue making media history!”

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Wacky Tabloid Weekly World News Turns to LA Paywall Firm

Remember the Weekly World News, that black-and-white broadsheet next to the supermarket checkout that you used to scan regularly before Perez Hilton, TMZ and Radar Online?

Though it was interrupted by a more recent ownership change, it never fully went away. WWN migrated to the Web only in 2009 and has since slowly doubled its monthly way to a current Top 1,000 Quantcast ranking. However, as we all well know by now, Web traffic does not translate into similar-size bank deposits, so the publication has turned to MediaPass, an LA company specializing in paywall solutions, to help monetize the clicks. From tomorrow’s official announcement:

“We are excited to have a brand like the Weekly World News choose MediaPass to distribute their content in a way that will help them instantly generate revenue, but is also fair to their readers and makes sense within the current paradigm of online publishing and sharing,” said MediaPass CEO Matthew Mitchell. “As a digital-only publication now employing our paywall, there’s no reason they can’t generate the kind of revenue they did at the peak of their print existence…”

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