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Morning Media Newsfeed: AT&T Advances DirecTV Talks | AP Expands | BuzzFeed President Out

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AT&T Said to Be in Talks to Buy DirecTV for About $50 Billion (Bloomberg)
AT&T Inc. is in advanced talks to acquire DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV provider, for about $100 per share, according to people familiar with the matter. WSJ A takeover of DirecTV could put a value of nearly $50 billion on the satellite-television provider. The two sides are discussing a deal that would involve a mix of cash and AT&T stock, the people said. Dallas-based AT&T would likely pay a premium to DirecTV’s share price Monday, one of the people said. An agreement could be reached in two weeks if not sooner, according to the people. GigaOM AT&T’s plan is to turn the satellite company into an AT&T unit, and keep management on board to run that unit, with plans for DirecTV’s chief executive Mike White to retire in 2016. The acquisition report, which neither company is commenting on, comes after three months after Comcast announced that it was going to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal. Variety Analysts have speculated that AT&T could migrate its 5.7 million U-verse TV subscribers to DirecTV’s satellite-delivered service, freeing up bandwidth in its terrestrial data networks. With 26 million pay-TV subscribers, AT&T also would gain leverage in programming negotiations on part with a merged Comcast-TWC. Reuters DirecTV shares rose 6 percent to $92.50 in extended trading on Monday.

AP Announces Expansion of Investigative Reporting Efforts (The Associated Press)
The Associated Press is deepening its commitment to investigative journalism by expanding its Washington-based investigative team, enlarging another group focused on national stories and launching a unit of international reporters to pursue in-depth projects across borders. FishbowlDC The revamped mission will be “to develop investigations around breaking news events across the globe and produce exclusive reports that expose wrongdoing and illuminate social issues,” according to the announcement. The wire service also said that it plans to share some of the data from investigative reporting with member news organizations to help them produce their own local content. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Joining the AP’s Washington investigative team are Ronnie Greene of the Center for Public Integrity and Jeff Horwitz, recently a Knight-Bagehot fellow at Columbia University. The AP is also reorganizing its U.S. and international investigations team with current AP reporters. Poynter / MediaWire The U.S. investigations team is expanding to include reporters in New Orleans, San Francisco and Jackson, Miss. Additions to the international team include reporters in Peru, Shanghai and London.

BuzzFeed President to Step Down (Politico / Dylan Byers on Media)
BuzzFeed president and chief operating officer Jon Steinberg will step down and take on an advisory role with the company, according to an internal memo provided by a BuzzFeed spokesperson. Business Insider He will continue to serve as an advisor to BuzzFeed and Lerer Ventures. Additionally, BuzzFeed said Steinberg will move on to “new challenges in the Web and media space.” AdAge No successor has been named. Steinberg is a former Google executive, who joined BuzzFeed in 2010 after less than a year with Polaris Venture Partners. He helped build the site’s revenue strategy of helping to create and spread content for brands, such as sponsored lists and videos intended to be highly shareable. WSJ / CMO Today Under Steinberg and chief executive Jonah Peretti, BuzzFeed has made waves in the ad world through “native advertising,” whereby brands create content designed to look like regular posts. The company this year presented its video strategy to advertisers at the NewFronts, and while it is perhaps known more for cute animals and feel-good listicles, BuzzFeed has invested in hard news including foreign correspondents and Pulitzer winners.

Fox Pitches Its Youth Outreach (WSJ / CMO Today)
Fox told advertisers Monday it is still the best major network for reaching younger viewers and said there needs to be a “meaningful discussion” about switching to a currency that takes seven days of viewing into account. Speaking at its annual “upfront” presentation to Madison Avenue, Fox executives pointed to the ability of shows like freshman comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine and New Girl to attract young viewers. The median age of a Fox viewer is 47, the lowest of the major networks, they said. Deadline New York After another year of down ratings in primetime, entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly boasted that ”Fox reaches the hard to reach” — notably Millennials. He sketched a strategy that offers the “most youthful audience at scale” while Fox starts “redefining the network experience” as it begins “eventizing our entertainment slate.” Fox says that its animation studio has more than 100 animators working on digital shorts, a partnership to produce online videos with Andy Samberg’s comedy group The Lonely Island. LA Times / Show Tracker After a season in which it’s poised to finish No. 1 in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic for the first time since the end of Friends 10 years ago, NBC ran a triumphant victory lap at its upfront presentation. The network highlighted its 21 percent growth in overall viewers, a strong enough improvement to put it in second place behind most-watched CBS. In terms of viewers under 50, NBC is tops this season, up 18 percent versus last year.

Former CNN Reporter Amber Lyon Starts News Site Devoted to ‘Psychedelic Journalism’ (Riverfront Times / Daily RFT)
As a journalist for CNN, Amber Lyon reported on some heavy issues, including war, government oppression and sex trafficking. Being around that took its toll and she showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. But instead of taking prescription medication for relief, Lyon turned to natural psychedelics, and the experience led her to create Reset.me, a news website devoted to psychedelic journalism. Poynter / MediaWire According to Reset.me’s Tumblr, it’s “an independent journalism site covering psychedelics, natural medicines and alternative therapies.” Mediaite The idea behind the site is that it can serve as a resource for those interested in using drugs like psilocybin mushrooms to treat various ailments.

Broadcasters Sue FCC Amid New Scrutiny of Shared Services Deals (Adweek)
Net neutrality isn’t the only problem Tom Wheeler has: The Federal Communications Commission chairman also faces a new lawsuit from broadcasters. Variety The National Assn. of Broadcasters (NAB) on Monday asked a federal appellate court to set aside a public notice that the FCC issued in March that set guidelines on how the agency would view stations sharing resources and jointly selling advertising time. But the NAB said that the FCC’s notice was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” arguing that it was a “categorical presumption” against such pacts. It argues that the guidelines were issued without giving stations the opportunity to comment on them, and that it left some broadcast station transactions in limbo because they relied on the possibility of sharing resources. The Hill Critics of the resource-sharing arrangements say the deals allowed broadcasters to skirt ownership rules, but broadcasters defend the arrangements, saying they enabled them to work more efficiently and criticizing the agency’s change in policy.

China’s Alibaba Launches Film Company (Variety)
Alibaba, the Chinese home shopping giant that last week unveiled part of its plans for a massive IPO in New York, has set up a film company. According to a regulatory filing, it registered Alibaba Films Group as a Hong Kong-based company in April before changing the name of the offshoot to Alibaba Pictures Group. THR The world’s biggest e-commerce firm’s IPO could be the biggest in history, and the company will trade either on the New York Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ under a symbol to be determined later. The company has been on a $6.2 billion buying spree in the media sector of late.

Washington Post Has Hired 50 Staffers in 2014 Amid Bezos-Funded Expansion (HuffPost)
The Washington Post reached a milestone Monday that would’ve seemed unthinkable amid the succession of newsroom buyouts in recent years: 50 new hires in 2014. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media The hires, spurred by Jeff Bezos’ financial backing, have come drip by drip: an addition to the online politics team one week, an addition to Wonkblog the next. In a telling indication of the Post‘s restored appeal, fashion writer Robin Givhan returned to the paper last month after decamping in 2010. Taken together, the additions have been a boon to newsroom morale. The Post was also buoyed by two Pulitzer victories this year, for Barton Gellman’s NSA coverage and Eli Saslow’s explanatory reporting.

Associated Press Polices Story Length (The Washington Post / Erik Wemple)
Citing a “sea of bloated mid-level copy,” Associated Press managing editor for U.S. news Brian Carovillano last week instructed fellow editors at the wire service to limit most “daily, bylined digest stories” to a length of between 300 and 500 words. Top stories from each state, Carovillano directed, should hit the 500-to-700-word range, and the “top global stories” may exceed 700 words but must still be “tightly written and edited.” HuffPost The news wire service said that readers “do not have the attention span for most long stories” and that too much valuable time is being wasted on cutting down such stories. Carovillano noted that the AP’s readers and members have spoken and are “near-unanimous” in their desire for shorter content.

Boehner’s Press Secretary Leaves (FishbowlDC)
Speaker of the House John Boehner’s press secretary Brendan Buck announced that Monday was his last day with the speaker. He will become VP of communications for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a trade association representing the American insurance industry.

Done Deal: Disney Finishes $500 Million Maker Studios Acquisition (Re/code)
Disney has closed its previously announced deal to buy Maker Studios, the company said. Disney paid $500 million for the YouTube network, and may end up spending up to $450 million more, depending on the company’s performance. Last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger described Maker as “first and foremost… a successful distribution platform.”

Vice News Correspondent Simon Ostrovsky Returns to Ukraine (HuffPost)
Vice News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky has returned to Ukraine, less than three weeks after being released by pro-Russia militants in the eastern city of Slovyansk. Ostrovsky quickly gained a following in early March for his unique and absorbing dispatches from the Russian invasion of Crimea. He was captured at a checkpoint on April 21 and, after being beaten and interrogated, was released three days later. On April 28, Ostrovsky said on Today that he planned to return to Ukraine.

NBC Sets Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special (Deadline Hollywood)
NBC’s Saturday Night Live is turning 40 next year, and NBC will mark the anniversary with a special to air Feb. 15, during the February sweep. As should be expected, besides highlights from the four decades of SNL, the special will feature a slew of alumni stopping by.

Weekend Changes at Fox News, Gregg Jarrett Taking Time Off for ‘Personal Reasons’ (TVNewser)
Fox News is making some changes to weekend programming, just as one of its longtime weekend anchors is taking time off. Fox News says Gregg Jarrett “requested time off for personal reasons and Fox obliged.” Other programming changes include Harris Faulkner signing off the Saturday edition of Fox Report, while continuing to host Sunday’s show at 7 p.m. ET. Faulkner will move to a six-day workweek, serving as a co-host on the new show Outnumbered Monday-Friday at 12 p.m. ET.

Former Roll Call Writer Meredith Shiner to Yahoo! News (FishbowlDC)
In March we wrote about the departure of Meredith Shiner from Roll Call, who in a note announcing the news to sources advised that her RC email should no longer be considered private. Via Twitter we learned that as of Monday, she’s relocated to Yahoo! News.

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