Morning Media Newsfeed 01.04.13
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Gore Went to Bat for Al Jazeera, and Himself (NYT / Media Decoder)
Al Gore's Current TV was never popular with viewers, but it was a hit where it counted: with cable and satellite providers. When he co-founded the channel in 2005, Gore managed to get the channel piped into tens of millions of households -- a huge number for an untested network -- through a combination of personal lobbying and arm-twisting of industry giants. He called on those skills again after deciding in December to sell Current TV to Al Jazeera for $500 million. HuffPost / The Backstory Time Warner Cable left the door open Thursday to the possibility of carrying Al Jazeera's new U.S.-based network, which is set to replace Current TV following Wednesday's acquisition. "We are keeping an open mind and as the service develops, we will evaluate whether it makes sense, for our customers, to launch the network," Time Warner Cable said in a statement first reported by The New York Times. Reuters Cable industry sources interpreted that statement to mean that Time Warner Cable would be open to distributing Al Jazeera America, just not at the same 12 cents per subscriber per month that Current TV was receiving, media consultancy firm SNL Kagan said. By comparison, SNL Kagan said Fox News averages 89 cents per subscriber per month, while CNN gets 57 cents and MSNBC collects 18 cents. Sources said that Dish Network Corp, DirecTV and Comcast Corp are locked into programming deals to carry Current TV for the next few years. Deadline New York The change of ownership was a bridge too far for TWC: It was already considering dropping Current due to its low ratings. ABC News / AP Still, some big questions remain for Al Jazeera, which is owned by the government of Qatar: How will it stand out in a crowded field of cable TV news channels? And how can it overcome an image that was cemented for many Americans when it gave voice to Osama bin Laden in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks? TVNewser The new channel will not be Al Jazeera English, the company's English-language news outlet, but rather a new, U.S.-based network. The channel is tentatively being called Al Jazeera America, but a source close to the company says that it isn't wedded to the name, and may try to create a new brand. One of the options being considered, according to our source, is calling the channel "beIN," or "beIN News," to make it mesh with Al Jazeera's beIN Sport network, which already has some U.S. distribution. New York Daily News There's really only one relevant question about the owners of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera network spending a half-billion dollars to buy Current TV: Do they really think Americans will watch? Really? Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm plans to leave Current TV following the network's sale to Al Jazeera. Granholm has been host of Current's The War Room for nearly a year, a relationship that was expected to expire after the 2012 election.
Nat Geo Channel Adapting Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy for TV (TVNewser)
National Geographic Channel, which will air a TV movie based on Bill O'Reilly's book Killing Lincoln next month, has picked up the rights to O'Reilly's latest book, Killing Kennedy. As with Killing Lincoln, Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions will produce the two-hour film, which begins production in the spring. NYT / Media Decoder News Corporation, which owns O'Reilly's home base, Fox News Channel, also owns a controlling share of the National Geographic channel. UPI "The common parallels between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy are astonishing, with both assassinations profoundly changing the nation during crucial moments in its history. It made perfect sense that my follow-up to Lincoln would naturally lead to Kennedy," O'Reilly said in a statement. THR / The Live Feed Both Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln follow the November debut of SEAL Team Six, Nat Geo's first feature film. The Weinstein Co.'s retelling of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound pulled in 2.7 million viewers.
NPR Announces New Roles for Hosts (FishbowlDC)
NPR announced new appointments for three of its news magazine hosts: Michele Norris returns from a leave of absence to take on an expanded new role as a host and special correspondent; she returns to the air full-time in February. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Norris left NPR in October 2011 after her husband Broderick Johnson accepted a senior adviser position with the Obama campaign. With the campaign over, Norris will return to NPR in February in an expanded role as both host and special correspondent. She will also create feature programs tailored to The Race Card Project, her initiative to foster a wider conversation about race in America. NYT / Media Decoder But hosting All Things Considered is "all-encompassing," Norris said, and she wouldn't have had enough time to devote to follow-up interviews with the respondents and features about race. So she and Margaret Low Smith, NPR's senior vice president of news, conceived a new role for her that will include Web and radio segments related to The Race Card Project; profiles and in-depth segments about politics, the kind she has produced for years; and guest-hosting opportunities. HuffPost / AP NPR says Audie Cornish will remain as co-host of All Things Considered, replacing Norris. Rachel Martin will be the permanent host of Weekend Edition Sunday, replacing Cornish.
Barnes & Noble Retail Revenues Down 10.9 Percent for Holiday Period (GalleyCat)
Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com businesses reported revenues of $1.2 billion for the nine-week holiday period, a 10.9 percent decrease compared to the same period last year for the retail side of the business. NYT / Media Decoder More worrisome for the long-term future of the company, sales for the company's Nook unit -- which includes e-readers, tablets, digital content and accessories -- decreased 12.6 percent over the same period. "They are not selling the devices, they are not selling books and traffic is down," said Michael Shatzkin, the founder and chief executive of Idea Logical Company, a consultant to publishers. "I'm looking for an optimistic sign and not seeing one. It is concerning." CNNMoney The poor showing comes as a big blow to Barnes & Noble, which was banking on the new Nook HD product line the company revealed in September. The tablets feature big improvements over the previous generation: much crisper screen resolution, a video streaming service and a new nine-inch tablet size. The entry-level Nook HD starts at $199, the same price at which the previous Nook line debuted.
WaPo to Debut Online Politics Channel (FishbowlDC)
Come the summer of 2013, The Washington Post will have an online video channel devoted to politics. Will it crash your computer or smartphone? Who knows, but we'll be there to test it out. HuffPost / The Backstory Marty Baron, who took over this week as the paper's executive editor, told staff in a memo that the channel's "programming will be produced in collaboration with the politics reporting team and will include hundreds of easily watchable clips organized into shows totaling over 30 hours per month." To highlight the new expanded content, Baron told staff the "the Post will introduce a more immersive, interactive video experience."
The Atlantic Will Experiment with Online Pay Models In 2013 (Forbes / Mixed Media)
The Atlantic is two things every legacy publishing company would like to be: profitable and more reliant on digital advertising revenues than on print. But while that may have been good enough in 2012, for 2013 the magazine has a new goal: to get more readers paying, in some form, for digital-only access to its journalism. FishbowlNY One payment method allegedly being discussed is the trusted metered wall, like The New York Times and Andrew Sullivan are using. If The Atlantic does launch a pay model it will be a bit of a throwback to the old days. It was only in 2008 that its site became completely free.
The First Stirrings of Rupert Murdoch's New Company, Nickname: 'PubCo' (Capital New York)
The leadership of the "new" News Corp., which is being referred to internally as "PubCo," continues to fall into place. Heading up communications for the stand-alone publishing company now led by longtime News Corp. lieutenant Robert Thomson is Ashley Huston, who was previously the communications chief for The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Last month, the "old" News Corp. announced the details of its corporate crack-up, in which its entertainment assets will fall under the umbrella of a new entity called the Fox Group.
N.Y. Officials, Newspaper Duel Over Gun Data (USA Today)
A suburban New York newspaper and local county officials dug in Thursday in a battle over public access to the names and addresses of pistol permit holders. Putnam County officials, who initially agreed to provide the information to the Westchester-based Journal News, said in a press conference Thursday they would defy New York State's open records law and refuse to provide the controversial information.
Big Ratings Gap Among Big Four at Midseason (Variety)
There's a discernible dividing line this season between TV's haves and have-nots. As the major nets prepare to spin their stories at the winter Television Critics Assn. tour in Pasadena during the next two weeks, an ascending NBC is the 2012-13 campaign's biggest story, riding top shows Sunday Night Football and The Voice to a surprising worst-to-first transformation among adults 18-49. CBS, while down from last year, is easily the most balanced net and the strongest overall going forward.
David Letterman Admits to Oprah Winfrey That Sex Scandal 'Hurt a Lot of People' (THR / The Live Feed)
David Letterman granted a rare interview to Oprah Winfrey, and you can bet the two talk show titans -- who have managed to put their bad blood behind them -- tackled the topic of the Late Show host's embarrassing sex scandal. And "sex scandal" is exactly the term Letterman, 65, uses to describe a string of affairs he'd had with several Late Show interns -- both before and after marrying Regina Lasko, his longtime girlfriend and mother to his son, Harry.
Liberty Media Gets Go-Ahead on Sirius (WSJ)
Liberty Media Corp. said the Federal Communications Commission has given it the go-ahead to take control of Sirius XM Radio Inc., which it expects to accomplish within 60 days. The long-awaited decision caps a nine-month campaign by Liberty to gain control of Sirius, an effort long opposed by former Sirius chief Mel Karmazin.
Digital Cracks 50 Percent of Ad Revenue at Wired Magazine (Ad Age / Media News)
Digital contributed half of all ad revenue at Wired magazine in the final three months of 2012, a first for the title and an encouraging sign for an industry where most big brands still rely overwhelmingly on the difficult business of print. Across the year as a whole, digital ads comprised 45 percent of total ad sales at Wired.
Chuck Close Goes Digital with Catalogue Raisonné from Artifex Press (UnBeige)
Artist Chuck Close has described his work as "monumental in scale and brutal in detail." The phrase is just as apt when referring to the painstaking process of cataloguing his oeuvre, according to Carina Evangelista, the editor of the Chuck Close Catalogue Raisonné.
BuzzFeed Raises $19.3 Million in Funding (FishbowlNY)
BuzzFeed just keeps getting bigger. In the past year, there have been multiple big-name hirings, verticals launched and partnerships formed. Now, thanks to a $19.3 million Series D funding round, BuzzFeed has room to grow even more. The funding was led by New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm.
Stern For King! (NY Post)
So, CNN wants to hire Ann Curry to take Anderson Cooper's spot. I have a better idea: How about Howard Stern instead?