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Morning Media Newsfeed: 550 Buyouts, Layoffs at Turner | Amazon Acquires Twitch

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550 Buyouts, Layoffs Imminent at Turner; HLN, CNN Among Cuts (The Wrap)
Some 550 buyouts are to be offered at Time Warner’s Turner network this week, including a large number of those at CNN and HLN, which will lead to layoffs if they are not taken voluntarily, according to an individual with knowledge of the network’s plans. TVNewser CNN chief Jeff Zucker will certainly want to protect CNN’s investment in original series and documentaries; the type of programming he’s gone all in on since taking the reins last year. Which departments and programming are affected by cuts remains to be seen. Variety Word of the staff cuts comes at a time when key Turner nets are at a crossroads. Turner’s entertainment networks are poised for a management overhaul following the departure in April of Steve Koonin as entertainment group chief. Meanwhile, CNN sibling HLN has been rumored to be in for a major makeover, possibly in a partnership deal between Time Warner and Vice Media. B&C The buyouts are part of the Time Warner unit’s efforts to cut costs as part of new CEO John Martin’s Turner 2020 plan aimed at cutting costs and aligning spending with company priorities. Turner officials had no comment, but sources said that the voluntary layoffs will be offered throughout Turner, including its news networks CNN and HLN, as well as its entertainment networks, including TNT and TBS. The company is not aiming at a specific headcount but rather is seeking to hit an expense number that includes personnel and other costs. THR The plan at Turner, which employs about 14,000 people worldwide, involves a formula that will allow workers at least age 55 and with a certain number of years seniority to take a buyout somewhat more generous than the usual two weeks of pay for every one year of service, according to a person familiar with the situation.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Gore Sues Al Jazeera | MTP Pays Tribute to Gregory

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Al Gore Sues Al Jazeera Over $500 Million Current TV Deal (Bloomberg)
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has sued Al Jazeera, claiming the satellite news provider owned by the Qatari royal family owes him and a partner $65 million from a deal to buy his network, Current TV. TVNewser “Our outside counsel is reviewing the complaint,” an Al Jazeera spokesperson said. “We think it relates to a commercial dispute between former shareholders of Current Media and Al Jazeera America. We may have further comment once they’ve fully reviewed everything.” Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt, the co-founders of Current Media, say that Al Jazeera has unlawfully refused to turn over tens of millions of dollars currently located in an escrow account. That money is owed to Current Media shareholders per the terms of the $500-million merger agreement made in January 2013, the plaintiffs say. New York Post Gore, 66, was set to personally pocket an estimated $100 million on the sale of his 20 percent stake in the network, which he helped found in 2004. Mediaite In a statement, Gore’s lawyer said, “Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago. We are asking the court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current’s former shareholders.” It should be noted that last year, Gore himself was sued for the sale of Current TV.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: AP Journalist Killed in Gaza | Williams 20/20 Special Draws 7.2 Million

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AP Video Journalist, Freelance Translator Killed in Gaza (FishbowlNY)
Simone Camilli and Ali Shehda Abu Afash — an Associated Press video journalist and a freelance translator, respectively — were killed in Gaza Wednesday while covering the conflict there. TVNewser Camilli, an Italian national, and Abu Afash, his Palestinian translator, were killed after ordnance left over from fighting in Gaza exploded. Following the news, AP president Gary Pruitt sent a note to the AP’s global staff about the dangers of their work. Associated Press / The Big Story Police said three police engineers also were killed. Four people, including AP photographer Hatem Moussa, were badly injured. Moussa told a colleague that they were filming the scene when an initial explosion went off. He said he was hit by shrapnel and began to run when there was a second blast, which knocked him out. He woke up in a hospital and later underwent surgery. NYT Camilli, 35, a video journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon, who started as an intern at The AP in 2005, was the first international journalist killed in the latest Gaza conflict. Abu Afash, 36, helped train local journalists through the Doha Center for Media Freedom and worked regularly with visiting foreign correspondents. BBC News The incident happened in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the north of the Gaza Strip. It came hours before a three-day ceasefire agreed between Israel and the Palestinians was due to expire. Some 2,000 people have died since the fighting in Gaza began on July 8. Those killed include more than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the UN.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Major Changes Hit Condé Nast | MTP May Oust Gregory

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Major Executive Changes at Condé Nast (FishbowlNY)
Big changes have just hit Condé Nast. Editorial director Tom Wallace and COO and CFO John Bellando are both leaving the company, while David Geithner — a former veteran of Time Inc. — is joining as CFO. Capital New York Wallace, who had previously served as editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveler, had been editorial director since 2005, helping to craft a consistent brand across the company’s many glossies and its many special editions. WWD / Memo Pad Several other major management changes were revealed, including the expansion of responsibilities of Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., president of Condé Nast. According to a memo, Sauerberg “will assume a leading role in all revenue generation activities, including taking direct responsibility for the Condé Nast Media Group, as well as brand revenue growth.” This will expand his areas of responsibility beyond the management of digital, technology, consumer marketing, business development, corporate administration and Condé Nast Entertainment. THR Bellando joined the company’s executive ranks in 1999. Geithner had spent more than two decades at Time Inc. prior to the appointment at Condé Nast. Most recently, Geithner served as the EVP and president of Time Inc.’s Entertainment Group, and exited the company earlier this year as part of the reorganization prior to the spinoff of the publisher from Time Warner. Time Inc. chairman and CEO Joe Ripp announced Geithner’s departure in a memo on Feb. 4, singling out his contributions to People, Entertainment Weekly and InStyle. WSJ The changes come as Condé Nast, a unit of Advance Publications Inc., is pushing to capture more digital related advertising dollars. Earlier this month, Condé Nast launched a new online video hub called The Scene, intended to serve as a home for all its video channels, including original programming such as The Single Life and Strictly Ballet.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Time Warner Plays Defense | Netflix Hits 50 Million Subscribers

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Time Warner Cancels Shareholders’ Ability to Call Special Board Meeting, Guards Against Fox Acquisition (NYT / DealBook)
Time Warner is playing defense. On Monday, the company amended its corporate bylaws and removed a provision that allowed shareholders to call a special board meeting. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Time Warner said the change was effective immediately. Variety The media company’s board approved a measure to temporarily prevent a fraction of shareholders, some 15 percent, from forcing a vote on 21st Century Fox’s $85 per-share offer, according to public filings. The so-called special meeting provision may be re-instated at the company’s 2015 shareholders meeting. Deadline Hollywood The fear was that Rupert Murdoch — or anyone — could have tried to stampede short-term investors into accepting a deal even if the board concluded that it would not serve their long-term interests. Time Warner shares were down 1.6 percent in post-market trading following disclosure of the change. THR Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has bid about $80 billion to acquire Time Warner, but Time Warner’s board and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes have rejected the proposal. Some analysts predict that 21st Century Fox will eventually offer $100 a share for Time Warner. The conglomerate’s stock has climbed 23 percent in the past week on such speculation, and Monday it closed at $87.36. TVNewser People familiar with the original $80 billion proposal that was rejected said if 21st Century Fox took over Time Warner, it would sell CNN to prevent antitrust issues stemming from Fox News and CNN’s direct competitor relationship.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Microsoft to Cut 18,000 Jobs | Aereo Faces Setback

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Microsoft to Lay Off 18,000 Workers, Largest Cuts in History (SocialTimes)
Over the next year, Microsoft is eliminating 18,000 jobs, or as much as 14 percent of its workforce. CEO Satya Nadella wrote a public email to company employees on Thursday saying “every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently.” He said that he would give more details on Tuesday, when Microsoft reports its fiscal 2014 results. Deadline Hollywood The layoffs will hit hardest at the Nokia Devices and Services phone handset business, acquired in April. “We are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months,” Nadella said in the email Thursday. Microsoft expects the restructuring to result in as much as $1.6 billion in pre-tax charges over the next four quarters. That will include as much as $800 million for severance and related benefit costs, and up to $800 million in asset-related charges. Variety Microsoft is also getting out of developing original series for its Xbox gaming platform and will close Xbox Entertainment Studios in the coming months. Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced Xbox Entertainment Studios will shutter and that some projects in development and production, including a live-action Halo series, will still be produced. New York Post / Reuters The studio, set up in 2012 under then-CEO Steve Ballmer, said in April it had committed to several projects including Humans, a drama co-produced with U.K. broadcaster Channel 4, and Halo. NYT While Microsoft still makes profits that executives at other companies would be ecstatic to have, it has been beaten on the biggest new trends in tech, including mobile, Internet search and cloud computing. As a result, it is regularly left out of conversations about companies defining the next generation of technology, outflanked and overshadowed by companies like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Vargas Detained, Released | Abramson Books Two Interviews

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Jose Antonio Vargas Released From Federal Custody in Texas (TVNewser)
Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was the focus of the recent CNN documentary Documented, was released from the custody of U.S. Border Patrol agents Tuesday evening. FishbowlDC Vargas was detained in McAllen, Texas Tuesday, days after speculating that he may be stuck in the border town. On Friday, Vargas wrote an essay for Politico, where he described his visit to a children’s shelter for Central American refugees. FishbowlNY Vargas was leaving the town to go to a screening of his film in Los Angeles when he was arrested. He was brought to a border patrol station for questioning. Supporters and members of the media gathered across the street, and were warned that if they approached the station any closer, they would also be arrested. HuffPost Vargas flew to the border last week to interview and film undocumented immigrants who have fled their home countries in Central America due to escalating violence. A TSA agent at the McAllen-Miller Airport initially cleared Vargas’ Philippines-issued passport when he attempted to board a flight Tuesday morning. He was placed into custody soon after, however, when he couldn’t produce a U.S. visa at the request of a border patrol agent. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Vargas, who won a Pulitzer as part of a Washington Post team in 2008, has become an outspoken advocate for undocumented immigrants after “coming out” as undocumented in a New York Times story in 2011.

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Kara Swisher’s Stated Goal: One ‘Really Good’ Scoop Per Week

About a third of the way through Benjamin Wallace’s crackling New York magazine profile of 51-year-old tech journalist extraordinaire Kara Swisher, there are two reminders of how effectively she blankets her beat.

KaraSwisherNYMagheadline

Exhibit Re/a:

Swisher has heard of current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer holding a meeting in which she graphed the impact on Yahoo’s stock price of various Swisher posts.

Exhibit Re/b:

“It is a constant joke in Silicon Valley when people write memos for them to say, ‘I hope Kara never sees this,’” says Facebook’s [Sheryl] Sandberg.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: O’Donnell’s Return Official | Emmy Noms Favor CNN, Social TV

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rosie o'donnell the view

Rosie O’Donnell Officially Returning to The View (TVNewser)
Rosie O’Donnell is returning to The View as a co-host in the fall, ABC confirmed via Twitter Thursday. Variety O’Donnell will join moderator Whoopi Goldberg. ABC execs are in the midst of a extensive search for new producers to take the reins of The View as the show prepares to replace panelists Sherri Shepherd and Jenny McCarthy, who recently exited the daytime program. THR / The Live Feed O’Donnell, who was a panelist on The View for the 2007-2008 season, left after just one year. O’Donnell had a notably stormy tenure on the show, often fighting with conservative panelist Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who suggested on Fox News on Wednesday that O’Donnell had been plotting her return to the show for “a very, very long time.” HuffPost TMZ reported Tuesday that the former co-host would be returning, claiming that O’Donnell had been in “active talks” with the show. This will be ABC’s first move to put back the pieces after the major overhaul that left Whoopi Goldberg as the show’s only remaining co-host. In June, Shepherd and McCarthy announced that they would be leaving, and ABC implied in a statement that their departures were not voluntary. Barbara Walters, the show’s creator, retired in May and Joy Behar and Hasselbeck both exited the show in 2013. NYT O’Donnell’s name immediately arose as most likely to be the first-named replacement. Her outspoken and often politically oriented commentary helped spark a surge in the show’s ratings. A committed liberal with strong views on numerous topics, she also got into some widely publicized feuds, with Donald Trump and others.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Aereo Plans Survival | Dish Makes Anti-Merger Case to FCC

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Aereo Signals Path to Survival if Classified as Cable System (WSJ)
Aereo Inc., the online video company that was widely expected to go out of business after losing a high-stakes Supreme Court case in June, signaled Wednesday that it sees a path to survival if it is classified in legal terms as a cable system. Mashable Aereo lost its case before the U.S. Supreme Court because a majority of the justices said its resemblance to a cable company meant it had violated copyright laws. Re/code The video streaming company told a U.S. district court in New York Wednesday it now thinks it’s entitled to be licensed as a cable system because of the Supreme Court’s decision. That would allow the company to stay alive although it would have to pay licensing fees in addition to costs to restart its stalled business. Aereo allowed consumers to watch local TV channels over the Internet for a monthly fee of up to $12 until shutting down its service a few weeks ago after the Supreme Court sided with broadcasters. Capital New York The broadcasters responded with their own argument, calling Aereo’s decision “astonishing.” “Whatever Aereo may say about its rationale for raising it now, it is astonishing for Aereo to contend the Supreme Court’s decision automatically transformed Aereo into a ‘cable system’ under Section 111 given its prior statements to this Court and the Supreme Court,” lawyers for the broadcasters wrote. Deadline Hollywood At issue is whether the District Court will lift a stay that allowed Aereo to remain in business while the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Broadcasters want it lifted so they can collect damages from Aereo’s infringement of their copyrights — a two-year period during which they say they “suffered irreparable harm.” Aereo faces additional hurdles even if the District Court agrees with its view. The FCC also might have to agree to define Aereo as a cable operator for it to qualify for the compulsory license — and it would have to be granted by the U.S. Copyright Office.

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