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Wednesday, Feb 27

Morning Media Newsfeed: 02.27.13

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Cablevision Sues Viacom in Battle Over Bundling of Channels (NYT/Media Decoder)
To all the cable customers who have ever wondered, "Why am I paying so much money for channels I never watch?" Cablevision has an answer: it's Viacom's fault. The cable distributor on Tuesday sued Viacom, the owner of MTV and Nickelodeon, saying that the company violated antitrust law by bundling those big channels with barely known ones like Tr3s and Palladia, in that way forcing cable companies and their customers to pay for channels that few people watch. Bloomberg Cablevision is trying to use antitrust law to force the unbundling of networks, a step advocated by consumer and trade groups to slow the steady hikes in cable bills. Pay-TV companies are finding it increasingly difficult to pass along higher programming costs in the $170 billion industry, as viewers have more video options on the Web, said Paul Sweeney, an analyst at Bloomberg Industries. Wired If Cablevision's lawsuit succeeds, it may be the end of unwatched channels filling your subscription lineup and could potentially lower your pay-TV bill. The Atlantic Wire Given the problems Cablevision and the rest of TV providers are facing -- programming costs rising faster than they can increase subscriber fees -- it's difficult to imagine how the savings created by this would trickle down lower cable bills. The sort of debundling sought for in this suit would be a "tectonic shift" for the cable business. But watching your favorite TV will not get any less expensive.

Variety Will Kill Its Daily Print Edition and Online Paywall, Keep Weekly Magazine (The Verge)
The iconic entertainment publication Variety will discontinue its daily printed edition on March 18th. The move is part of a broad reorganization to make its news coverage and distribution more friendly to the new world of digital media. Variety will also drop its online paywall on March 1st, and has named three new editors-in-chief, managing television, digital content, and film, respectively. A redesigned weekly print magazine will debut on March 26th. TheWrap Eliminating the print daily combined with the website paywall ending means taking an immediate financial hit -- and a big one. A significant portion of Variety's revenue comes from advertising in the daily. Deadline Hollywood Needless to say, editorial morale at the entertainment trade is at its lowest ebb and anxiety is running sky high. As a source told me earlier, "There is complete editorial disorganization from the top down."

Tribune Co. Listening to Offers for Newspapers (Chicago Tribune)
Tribune Co. has hired two investment banks to manage offers to buy its newspapers, executives confirmed Tuesday afternoon, saying no decisions have been made about whether to sell any properties. JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners will oversee a process to consider offers for Tribune Co.'s publishing assets, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and six other daily newspapers. NYTimes/Dealbook Tribune's move came as little surprise. Speculation had been swirling around the media industry for some time that a number of potential suitors had emerged for the company's holdings. That group may include News Corporation, which is in the process of spinning off its newspaper holdings from its far bigger Fox Entertainment operations. Reuters Aaron Kushner, the owner of the Orange County Register near Los Angeles, said he was "prepared to take a serious look" at Tribune's newspapers in December.

CBS to Win First February Sweeps Since 1998 (Ad Week)
Thanks in large part to its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII and the 2013 Grammy Awards, CBS has dominated sweeps, more than doubling the deliveries of its nearest competitor. Whereas CBS is averaging 15.5 million prime time viewers, ABC is drawing 7.32 million. The last time CBS won a February sweeps, its top-rated shows included Touched By an Angel, 60 Minutes, Chicago Hope and Walker, Texas Ranger.

Glenn Greenwald Rails Against BuzzFeed: 'Reckless and Irresponsible,' 'Government-Subservient Stenography' (HuffPo)
Guardian columnist and blogger Glenn Greenwald joined HuffPost Live Tuesday and railed against what he called "reckless and irresponsible" journalism by BuzzFeed reporter Tessa Stuart. Stuart wrote a story Monday claiming that Michael Moore had overhyped the recent detention of Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat at LAX as an attempt to seek publicity for Burnat's Oscar-nominated documentary, 5 Broken Cameras. Her story was based on a single government source, and she was forced to issue a correction after initially presenting it as based on multiple sources. The Atlantic Wire "BuzzFeed is trying to spin their way out of this," Moore said in an interview on Tuesday evening, "and they're just running the talking points from the customs officials there at LAX."

O'Reilly, Hannity See Huge Drop-Off In February Demo Numbers (HuffPo)
Shep Smith, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity all saw huge drops in the demo from the same point in 2012. Hannity fell a staggering 35 percent from 2012, and O'Reilly fell 26 percent. It was the two mens' worst performance in the demo since 2006 and 2008, respectively. True, 2012 was an election year -- but even though MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and Chris Matthews also saw their ratings decrease, their ratings fell by much smaller percentages. TVNewser Fox News remains the top cable news network, beating MSNBC and CNN combined in both Total Day and primetime for the month of February. Despite being up for the month, Fox News -- like the other cable news networks -- was down year-over-year.

One Month Into Zucker's Reign, CNN Sees Ratings Dip (Deadline Hollywood)
Looks like wall-to-wall crippled cruise ship coverage wasn't enough to get CNN off rough ratings seas. One full month since Jeff Zucker officially took over the cable news network, CNN saw a 5 percent dip in total day viewers and a 1 percent slip in primetime viewership in February as compared to January. TVNewser The good news for CNN is that a number of programs managed to grow their ratings dramatically, despite the (relatively) slow news month. 7PM's Erin Burnett Outfront was up 15 percent in total viewers and 11 percent in the demo compared to last year, while 8PM's AC360 was up 42 percent and 27 percent in those categories, respectively.

NBC Says George Zimmerman Doesn't Deserve a Payout (Orlando Sentinel)
Attorneys for NBC Universal Media LLC have filed a response to the defamation suit filed by murder defendant George Zimmerman, saying the murder suspect deserves no payout from it. "While there is no legitimate basis for Zimmerman's claims against these defendants, who fairly and accurately reported about a news event that has captivated the nation, now is simply not the time to litigate them," wrote Gregg D. Thomas, a Tampa attorney who specializes in media issues and was hired by NBC.

Barbara Walters Returning to The View Monday (TVNewser)
ABC's Barbara Walters will return to The View on Monday, March 4. Walters called into the daytime program Tuesday to deliver the news herself. "Like it or not, I'm coming back on the show again starting next Monday," Walters said. "No more chicken pox, no more falling down, no more nothing. I'll be back, and I so look forward to seeing all of you."

North Carolina Editor Who Made Controversial Gun Information Request Resigns (
Robert Horne, the Cherokee Scout editor who made a request for gun-permit information that was later withdrawn, has resigned. He tells Romenesko readers that he wasn't pressured by his publisher to quit, but stepped down "so the Cherokee Scout can move forward."

Amazon to Change Free eBook Policy for Associates (GalleyCat)
Next month, Amazon will change its policy for associates who help readers find free Kindle eBooks online, making certain sites ineligible for advertising fees. The company predicted that the new policy will only affect .1 percent of its associates and will not count for advertising fees accrued before March 1, 2013.

BuzzMedia Laying Off 50 Employees Ahead of Rebranding (Pando Daily)
BuzzMedia, a digital publisher behind more than 40 online millenial-focused brands, is in the process of laying off 50 employees, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell PandoDaily. The move, which comes just two months after the company promoted then President Stephen Hansen to the role of CEO in December, is said to be part of a rebranding and company streamlining effort.

TiVo Revenue Rises 33 Percent (THR)
TiVo reported revenue of $88.9 million, up from $66.5 million. The company's per-share loss was 13 cents, while analysts expected a loss of 16 cents. At the end of the quarter, TiVo had 3.15 million subscribers, up from 2.28 million at the end of the same quarter a year ago.

AFP Compromised by Syrian Government Sympathizers in Latest Twitter Hack (The Verge)
It's been an exceptionally bad month for Twitter in terms of security -- a few weeks ago, high-profile brands like Burger King and Jeep were the victim of embarrassing hacks, and now news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) has had the Twitter account of its famed photo department hacked.

Under Pressure from Angry Photog, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith Changes Twitter Avatar (FishbowlDC)
BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith is a thief, a "jerk" and a "shill for right-wing smear merchants." That's according to the photographer whose picture Smith has used as his Twitter avatar for more than a year.

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