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Morning Media Newsfeed 04.27.12

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Providence Said To Be Selling Hulu Stake At $2 Billion Value (Bloomberg)
Hulu.com owners Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp. and News Corp. are close to buying out Providence Equity Partners Inc.'s stake at a price valuing the company at about $2 billion, said two people with knowledge of the matter. NYT / Media Decoder Providence, a private equity firm, invested about $100 million in Hulu, an online video website, when it was formed five years ago. The firm joined the NBC owner NBCUniversal and Fox owner News Corporation in the joint venture, which has become a profitable business with tens of millions of users and two million paying subscribers. LA Times The move is expected to give at least two of Hulu's media company owners -- News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. -- a greater ownership stake in the rapidly growing online service. It also would make it easier for the partners to achieve a common strategy for the asset without having a restive investor in the mix. NY Post Investor Comcast is constrained in its ability to manage Hulu as a result of its agreement with the Federal Communications Commission to acquire NBCUniversal, and is not an active participant in the transaction. AllThingsD The real question to answer now is what this means for Jason Kilar and his management team. Kilar and his employees also have a chunk of equity in the company, but haven't been able to get their hands on it because there hasn't been a "liquidity event." So now that there has been one, will Kilar take his payout and leave?

At British Inquiry, Murdoch Apologizes Over Scandal (NYT)
After a day of testimony at a British judicial inquiry over his ties, friendships and disputes with British politicians, Rupert Murdoch returned to the witness stand on Thursday, saying he apologized for failing to take measures to avert the hacking scandal that has convulsed his media outpost. HuffPost The second day of Murdoch's testimony before the media ethics panel found the mogul facing far sharper questioning than he did on Wednesday. Murdoch did not back down from his insistence that he had known nothing about the extent of phone hacking at his newspapers. (Indeed, he said that he had essentially ignored the News of the World for more than 30 years.) Bloomberg Businessweek / AP The 81-year-old media magnate acknowledged that the scandal which erupted at the Sunday tabloid last July was a "serious blot" on his reputation, but claimed his company was drawing a line under the sordid episode. "I've spent hundreds of millions of dollars" cleaning up News Corp. subsidiary News International, Murdoch told the inquiry. "We are now a new company altogether." TheWrap.com Murdoch said he believed one or two News Corp. employees led a cover-up of the hacking, and that he failed to realize what was happening at the News of the World. "I also have to say that I failed," he said, falling silent for 20 seconds. LA Times / Company Town While acknowledging that as head of the company the buck stops with him, Murdoch also continued to deflect blame for the fiasco which sparked three separate criminal investigations, the firing of top executives and dozens of arrests. The Guardian Murdoch said the Huffington Post had "quite cleverly" developed from an online political pamphlet to be broader but is "mainly just stealing stories from existing newspapers." Politico / Dylan Byers On Media "I know that Rupert's having a hard time remembering everything these days -- as the Leveson Inquiry shows -- but we are busily and happily employing and deploying over 400 journalists, and we recently won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, so I'd like to invite him to drop by our newsroom sometime for a visit," Huffington Post executive editor Tim O'Brien wrote in an email to Politico. The Daily Beast Ah, what a performance. What a performance. If it had been at the West End, the actor would have received a standing ovation. Instead, the forum was the Royal Courts of Justice.

Today Retakes Ratings Crown From Good Morning America (THR / The Live Feed)
NBC's Today was back atop the morning show ratings for the week ending April 20, one week after seeing its 852-week winning streak ended by ABC's surging Good Morning America. HuffPost Today drew 5.253 million total viewers versus 5.01 million total viewers for GMA. Today also beat its rival in the key 25-54 demographic, drawing 2.319 million viewers over 1.94 million viewers for GMA. TVNewser Also some good news for CBS This Morning. The perennial third-place show is up in households, total viewers, and adults ages 25 to 54 compared to the same week last year, but still a distant third with 2.527 million viewers.

98.7 Kiss FM To Merge With Long-Time Rival WBLS In Move That Shakes Up NYC Radio Landscape (NY Daily News)
After 30 years as spirited and often ferocious rivals, WBLS (107.5 FM) and WRKS (98.7 FM, Kiss-FM) will become one. NYT / Media Decoder At midnight on Monday, the stations will merge on WBLS (107.5 FM), according to a joint announcement made Thursday. Shaila, KISS's midday personality, and its nighttime disk jockey, Lenny Green, will join WBLS. Other employees of KISS, which is owned by Emmis Communications, will receive what the company called generous severance packages.

The Newsonomics Of 99-Cent Media (Nieman Journalism Lab)
Honk if you still love newsprint enough to pay $700 or more a year for a seven-day print subscription to The New York Times. Of course, you have many other choices.

Opening The Broadcasters' Books (NYT / The Opinion Pages)
Television stations have been making a lot more money from campaign ads since the Supreme Court helped lift the limits on contributions to political groups. The public, though, has been kept in the dark about how much these groups and the so-called super PACs are spending, and where they are spending it, because the stations don't want to make it easy to find out how much they are being paid for those ads. On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission will have an opportunity to make this murky process far more transparent. LA Times / Company Town The issue is not putting what a candidate spent on commercials online. But broadcasters are concerned about listing what specific commercials on specific shows cost. Even though by law candidates get the lowest rate available for commercials in the weeks leading up to an election, broadcasters worry that other advertisers could use that information to leverage their own negotiations.

NBC Olympics Slates Anchors, Correspondents For 2012 Games (TVNewser)
NBC Olympics has announced its anchors and correspondents for the upcoming 2012 games in London. Multichannel News Bob Costas will serve as the primetime host, his ninth straight Olympics in that capacity and his 10th with the Games overall. He has been the primetime host for all of NBC's Olympics since 1992. Washington Post / The TV Column NBC Sports on Thursday officially announced the role Ryan Seacrest will play in the network's coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Ariel Kaminer Will Return To Metro, Making Way For A New Times Magazine 'Ethicist' (Capital New York)
Ariel Kaminer is leaving her post as the New York Times Magazine's "Ethicist" columnist to return to a job writing features for the Times' metro desk. Kaminer had shifted over to the magazine in early 2011, not long after Hugo Lindgren was named editor in chief. FishbowlNY Per a memo from Lindgren, there will be a few guest Ethicists before a replacement is announced.

How Tech's Giants Want To Re-Invent Journalism (paidContent)
Some of Silicon Valley's biggest technology companies reject suggestions they are now news organizations. But they nevertheless think they have the prescription for what news media must do next.

Redbox Revenue Grows 39 Percent, Operating Income More Than Triples (LA Times / Company Town)
Apparently nobody told Redbox's customers that the DVD is dead. First-quarter revenue for the movie-rental company surged 39 percent to $502.9 million, and its operating income increased 222 percent to $76.4 million, Redbox's parent company Coinstar Inc. said in financial results released Thursday.

Meet Liz McDougall, The Unlikely-Seeming Lawyer Defending Village Voice Media In Backpage Controversy (Capital New York)
Somehow, Liz McDougall doesn't seem the type who defends big corporations from attacks by law enforcement agencies, clergy groups, and celebrity do-gooders who say they want to end the trafficking of minors and immigrants for sex.

New York Times R&D Group Launches First Commercial Product (And It's For Brands) (AdAge / MediaWorks)
The New York Times R&D Lab has spent the last six and a half years building what its chief calls the equivalent of "concept cars" for the media world. One of its creations was the News.me social news-reading app, which was conceived and prototyped inside the lab before being spun out to the incubator Betaworks for commercialization.

Belo Announces Slight Increase In Revenue (TVSpy)
Belo Thursday reported a 3 percent increase in total revenue for the first quarter of 2012, compared to the same period last year. The Dallas-based company, which owns 20 stations across the country, generated $156 million during the first three months of this year. B&C Total spot revenue, excluding political, was up 1 percent, with a 4 percent increase in local spot and a 5 percent decrease in national. Spot growth came from strength in the automotive and retail categories. Belo's political revenue in the first quarter totaled $1.6 million, or $1.2 million more than the first quarter of 2011. Total spot revenue, including political, was up 2 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

Be Very Afraid: The Cable-ization Of Online Life Is Upon Us (Wired / Epicenter)
Earlier this month, I had an evening meeting in D.C. followed by a class to teach in Boston the following day. I had just one choice for a flight: the US Airways 9 p.m. shuttle. Attempting to board right after the first-class passengers, I was blocked by the gate agent, who pointed to the viola on my back: "You'll have to gate check that. That's a musical instrument, and we don't allow those on board."

PBS NewsHour Names Tom Kennedy Managing Editor Of Digital News (TVNewser)
Tom Kennedy has been tapped to lead online news operations for PBS NewsHour as managing editor of digital news. B&C Kennedy, who currently teaches photo editing, including multimedia editing, and visual journalism at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, will begin work at NewsHour in June.

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