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Let’s Make a Deal…

Report: Sale of SF Weekly to Be Announced Today

Just before Christmas, we told you about the imminent expected announcement by Canadian-born media mogul Todd Vogt of another Bay Area acquisition. But the trail went cold into the holidays, perhaps because CPAs and due-diligence folks have a right to a Christmas break just as much as the next person.

Following a weekend item in the San Francisco Appeal about the opinions of Phil Bronstein and Clint Reilly regarding another possible Vogt transaction, Appeal publisher-editor Eve Batey this morning has the scoop:

A source close to the deal tells The Appeal that the sale of Voice Media Group’s Weekly to the San Francisco Newspaper Company, a consortium including “co-owner, president & publisher, The San Francisco Examiner & Bay Guardian” Vogt and the CEO of Canadian newspaper company Black Press, will be announced this morning…

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AP’s Invision Photography Unit Pacts with The Hollywood Reporter

Last May, AP launched Invision, a collective of celebrity-focused photographers based in New York, London and, mostly, Los Angeles. Manning the red carpet and party trenches here are Chris Pizzello, Casey Rodgers, Matt Sayles, John Shearer and Jordan Strauss.

This morning, Invision has announced that it will be the exclusive, credentialed photographer for The Hollywood Reporter. It’s a huge step forward in the entertainment space for AP, cemented by that fact that the agreement also allows the unit to license THR photos thereafter through AP Images:

“Invision’s world-class photographers, combined with AP’s long history of journalistic excellence, will make a perfect partner for The Hollywood Reporter as we continue to build upon our unprecedented access to entertainment industry events and provide a showcase for photography on many platforms,” said THR editorial director Janice Min.

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Report: Al Jazeera Finalizing Deal to Acquire Current TV

A few months ago, Michael Wolff wondered in the pages of USA TODAY - “Who Will Buy Al Gore’s Current TV?” He concluded that an Internet behemoth like The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed or even College Humor might make sense.

But according to a report this afternoon by New York Times media columnist Brian Stelter, the most interested party has turned out to be from far beyond our country’s borders, Web or otherwise:

Rather than simply use Current to distribute its English-language channel, called Al Jazeera English and based in Doha, Qatar, Al Jazeera will create a new channel based in New York, according to people with knowledge of the deal negotiations. The channel may be called Al Jazeera America. Roughly 60 percent of the programming will be produced in the United States, while the remaining 40 percent will come from Al Jazeera English.

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It’s Official: Tribune Company Emerges from Bankruptcy

Reuters reporters Ronald Grover and Liana B. Baker had the scoop last Friday about New Year’s Eve being the day LA Times parent company Tribune Co. would finally, officially emerge from a four-year bankruptcy. This morning at 4:42 a.m. PT, LAT reporters Walter Hamilton and Joe Flint added circumspect confirmation in the paper’s own pages:

The company sought Bankruptcy Court protection in December 2008 after an $8.2 billion leveraged buyout by real estate magnate Sam Zell saddled the company with $12.9 billion in total debt just as advertising revenue was collapsing…

Despite the financial travails of the newspaper industry, Tribune remained profitable throughout the bankruptcy. It built cash reserves of more than $2.5 billion as of November 18, according to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing this month.

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SF Newspaper Company Set to Announce Next Bay Area Acquisition

Max Cherney, a contributor to online newspaper The San Francisco Appeal, had an interesting email exchange this week with Todd Vogt (pictured). The owner of the Bay Area’s Examiner and Bay Guardian newspapers confirmed he’s about to announce local acquisition number three.

Vogt indicated the news was to be shared by the end of today. The reporter was unable however to get any on-the-record comment from reps for the East Bay Express and Village Voice Media’s SF Weekly, two most likely targets of The SF Newspaper Company exec. From Cherney’s December 20 item:

“The new property will be highly complimentary to The Examiner and the Guardian,” Vogt wrote. “It will give us, by far, the greatest readership, reach and audience in the Bay Area, effectively covering every demographic in every corner of The City.”

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Freedom Communications Adds OC Magazine Publisher Churm Media

Another interesting development from the Orange County Register-Aaron Kushner end. On Tuesday, parent company Freedom Communications closed a deal to acquire Newport Beach-based Churm Media, publishers of free monthly magazine OC Metro and other similar print publications.

From this morning’s report by Ann Marie Milbourn:

“Steve Churm and the entire Churm Media team have done a fabulous job over multiple decades building a wealth of relationships and a portfolio of publications, websites, events and services that are robust, engaging and invaluable for Orange County,” said Kushner…

Added Churm: “This acquisition will significantly enhance the foundation we’ve built with readers and advertisers and help us reach our full growth potential. It’s a tremendous opportunity and we can’t wait to get started.”

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Nikki Finke Says Fox Sports Set to Play Some Very Expensive Dodgers Ball

In between serving up the details on a very good Thanksgiving weekend at the box office for the Hollywood studios, Nikki Finke has cranked out a major sports beat scoop.

According to her Saturday post, a record deal is about to be consummated for the renewal of Dodgers TV broadcast rights, which are currently set to expire at the end of 2013:

Insiders tell me that Fox Sports is close to clinching the exclusive TV rights for the Los Angeles Dodgers by paying between $6 billion and $7 billion over 25 years to put the team on its regional sports network in Southern California and of course its national Fox Broadcasting Company. Fox already shows the games on its Prime Ticket local cable channel but also has Fox Sports West here…

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Cox Communications, TW SportsNet Agree to Deal

You can cross Cox Communications off the list as the cable provider have agreed to terms with Time Warner Cable to carry SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.

“Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes and Cox Communications have agreed to terms,” the networked announced in a statement on Sunday night. “Launch details will be announced shortly.”

That leaves just DirecTV and Dish as the two lone holdouts. Considering DirecTV still hasn’t signed up for Pac-12 Networks, it makes you wonder how long this standoff will last.

Based on the 1-3 Los Angeles Lakers record, fans aren’t missing anything as of yet.

 

Santa Rosa Press Democrat Gets New Ownership

Florida-based Halifax Media Group has flipped the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and two smaller publications (the weekly Petaluma Argus-Courier and North Bay Business Journal) to an intriguing six-man investor group. Per today’s announcement, the new owners – Sonoma Media Investments LLC – include:

Darius Anderson, a Sonoma-based developer and top Sacramento lobbyist and Doug Bosco, a former North Coast congressman, Santa Rosa attorney and Democratic party power broker…

Other key players in the purchase group include Steven Falk, former president and publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle and chief executive of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and Bill Hooper, president of Anderson’s development firm, Kenwood Investments, and a former executive with Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard advertising company.

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Disney-Lucasfilm Deal Enlarges Vivid’s X-Rated Parody Plans

A year after the original trilogy of Star Wars films was in the books, a different kind of film endeavor was launched in the San Fernando Valley in 1984. Since that time, Vivid Entertainment and the porn industry have both come a long way. Today, in the face of the Internet threat, Vivid and other SFVx purveyors have resorted among other things to big-budget, X-rated movie parodies.


Earlier this year, Vivid released Star Wars XXX: A Porn Parody, its biggest budgeted flick yet. The company already has two sequels planned and now, feeding off this week’s Disney-Lucasfilm deal, say they are planning a fourth Lucas homme-age. A quadrilogy?

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