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Morning Media Newsfeed: Blockbuster Stores Done | Vargas Goes to Rehab | Star-Telegram Layoffs

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Blockbuster, Outdone by Netflix, Will Shut Its Stores And DVD Mail Service (NYT)
Blockbuster, which had more than 9,000 retail stores across America just nine years ago, is closing the few hundred video-rental stores that it still has, the company’s owner, Dish Network, said on Wednesday in a bittersweet but long-expected announcement. Dish, which acquired Blockbuster through a bankruptcy auction in 2011, after the retailer had already been crushed by digital video distributors like Netflix, said it still saw value in the brand name and would use it in limited ways. But it will close all Blockbuster locations — it says there are about 300 left — and the distribution centers that support its DVD-by-mail service, which is also being dismantled. Ad Age / Media News “This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said in the statement. “We continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.” LA Times / Company Town Founded in 1985, at its peak Blockbuster had close to 10,000 stores. It put smaller retailers out of business and gobbled up bigger competitors. In 1994, Viacom acquired Blockbuster and later spun it off in 2004.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas in Rehab for Alcohol Abuse (TVNewser)
Elizabeth Vargas, 20/20 co-anchor, is in a treatment facility for alcohol abuse, the NY Daily News reports. “Like so many people, I am dealing with addiction,” Vargas says in a statement. “I realized I was becoming increasingly dependent on alcohol, and feel fortunate to have recognized it for the problem it was becoming. I am in treatment and am so thankful for the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues at ABC News.” New York Daily News / Confidential When the senior staff at the Disney-owned network had begun whispering about her whereabouts, they were officially told that she was on “medical leave,” but many suspected she had been getting help for an alcohol problem and would be returning soon.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Cuts 275 Jobs, Outsources Printing to Morning News (Dallas Business Journal)
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram will cut about 275 jobs as it outsources its printing and packaging to the Dallas Morning News’ printing plant in Plano, the Dallas Morning News reported. The arrangement will start in the first quarter of 2014. The Star-Telegram, owned by The McClatchy Company, based in Sacramento, will cut 75 full-time and 200 part-time jobs and the employees are eligible for severance pay and benefits. DallasNews.com “This makes all the sense in the world,” said Jim Moroney, publisher and chief executive of the News and chairman, president and CEO of its parent company, A.H. Belo Corporation. In market after market across the country where there is geographic proximity, Moroney said, newspapers have been consolidating their printing operations to save money.

Time Inc. Spin-Off Gets Delayed to Next Year (TheWrap)
Time Warner is delaying its planned spin-off of Time Inc., the company told investors Wednesday. The publishing unit, which has been a drag on the media conglomerate’s profits, was originally supposed to be spun off into a separate company in 2013. That date was later amended to be in the first quarter of 2014. Now, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said the company is on track to complete the spin-off by the second fiscal quarter of next year.

The Cost of Winning: Tim Armstrong, Patch And The Struggle to Save AOL (Business Insider)
On an overcast Friday afternoon last August, a hundred or so employees of AOL’s local news subsidiary, Patch, crammed into a cafeteria at the company’s headquarters in Manhattan. Another several hundred connected to the room via conference call. They were waiting to hear CEO Tim Armstrong deliver bad news.

CBS Meets Q3 Expectations After Time Warner Cable Fight (TheWrap)
CBS Corp. emerged from its third-quarter fight with Time Warner Cable matching Wall Street’s earnings expectations. CBS CEO Les Moonves told investors in a conference call that the success reflected the network’s emphasis on content.

Bob Lewis Takes PR Job (Poynter / MediaWire)
Former Associated Press reporter Bob Lewis will start a new job in media relations with the law firm McGuireWoods on Nov. 11. The AP fired Lewis in October after he wrote a story that said then-Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe lied to federal investigators. AP quickly retracted the story, and fired two other staffers as well.

The NYT Paywall Plugs The Hole (CJR / The Audit)
Felix Salmon asked what my graph of New York Times digital revenue would look like including print ads. Now here’s the chart Felix requested. Let me note that the non-2013 numbers in this post are based on my calculations — not official NYT numbers. I backed into them via other numbers disclosed in NYT securities filings. Unsurprisingly, print ads are still the behemoth, comprising 63 percent of that pile of revenue. But note that digital subscriptions have more than offset the 23 percent decline in print advertising since 2009.

Pinterest Hires San Francisco Chronicle President Joanne Bradford to Lead Advertiser And Media Partnerships (AllThingsD)
If Pinterest’s recent advertising test with “promoted pins” wasn’t a clear enough sign that it’s ready to generate some revenue, its latest hire surely is. Sources have told AllThingsD that the social scrapbooking startup has hired digital-media veteran and current San Francisco Chronicle president Joanne Bradford as head of partnerships.

Jeff Bewkes: HBO’s Streaming Deal With Comcast Won’t Promote Cord Cutting (Deadline New York)
Time Warner startled a lot of people recently when it allowed the No. 1 cable operator to include HBO Go in a new $40 a month broadband service. Wouldn’t some consumers cancel their pay TV service if they found that they can watch the channel’s shows without a subscription to basic cable? But CEO Jeff Bewkes says he isn’t worried.

Nexstar to Acquire Seven Grant Stations for $87.5 Million (Broadcasting & Cable)
Nexstar Broadcasting Group has agreed to acquire seven TV stations from Grant Company for $87.5 million. Simultaneous with that agreement, Nexstar entered into an agreement with closely aligned Mission Broadcasting for Mission to purchase one of the stations from Nexstar, with Nexstar providing services for a fee.


Dishing With A Downton Abbey Star
(FishbowlNY / Lunch)
There are Michael’s lunches and then there are Michael’s lunches. Over the course of all the years I’ve been chronicling the scene on Wednesdays at 55th and Fifth for this column, I’ve had plenty of occasion to dine and dish with the famous and infamous, strivers and stars and more than my fair share of pop cultural icons. When I think about what I love most about this gig, I have to paraphrase Forrest Gump: Each Wednesday at Michael’s is like a box of (very expensive) chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get. This time, I got the chance to spend a delightful few hours with Lesley Nicol, who plays Mrs. Patmore, the blustery and big-hearted cook on Downton Abbey, my absolute favorite television show.

Michael Bloomberg’s Post-Mayoral Day-Job Will Be at Bloomberg View (Capital New York)
Michael Bloomberg is getting back into the media business. The outgoing three-term mayor of New York is planning to return to his namesake Bloomberg L.P. in a role that will see him primarily involved in its online opinion offering, Bloomberg View, Capital has learned.

Newsday‘s Lane Filler And The Times‘ Ross Clark Win Reason Foundation’s Bastiat Prize (Reason / Hit & Run)
Newsday’s Lane Filler and Ross Clark of The Times and The Spectator are the co-winners of Reason Foundation’s 2013 Bastiat Prize, which honors the writing that best demonstrates the importance of individual liberty and free markets with originality, wit and eloquence. “Lane Filler and Ross Clark, each in their own way, channel the spirit of Bastiat to communicate the importance of freedom to the pursuit of happiness,” said Julian Morris, vice president of Reason Foundation and founder of the Bastiat Prize.

Ronan Farrow on Questions About His Paternity: ‘Don’t You Feel Like A Quality Journalist?’ (THR)
In his first interview since his MSNBC show was announced, the 25-year-old government insider and author tells THR about his plans to “shake things up” at the progressive network, his “Hammer pants” phase and his family’s celebrity: “Being under the microscope means I was never given any slack.”

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