Media News

Thursday, May 31

The Morning Newsfeed: 05.31.07

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fred_thompson_053107.jpgLaw & Order's Thompson Leaves Show, Inches Closer to Prez Bid (Daily News)
Law & Order star Fred Thompson will take a big step next week toward running for President. The former Tennessee senator is expected to set up an exploratory committee within days to test the presidential waters, and he could jump into the crowded GOP race as soon as July 4. Law & Order creator Dick Wolf said last night that Thompson had asked to leave the show, another sign the actor is seriously considering a White House bid.

CBS Buys Last.FM For $280M (NYT)
CBS has acquired Last.FM, an online radio and social-networking site, for $280 million to expand its digital offerings. CBS, one of the nation's biggest radio broadcasters, said the founders of the five-year-old service would continue to operate it as an independent unit. But the purchase is also regarded as a way for CBS to grab an audience online at a time when many traditional radio stations fear losing listeners to iPods, Internet radio and other competing media. NYP: CEO Les Moonves is moving much faster into digital media than his Viacom counterpart Philipe Dauman.

Yahoo Technology Chief to Leave in Wake of Company Revamping (NYT)
Farzad Nazem, Yahoo's chief technology officer and one of its longest-serving executives, said he would leave on June 8 after 11 years at the company. Yahoo said its co-founder, Jerry Yang, would assume Nazem's responsibilities while it searches for a replacement. The departure of Nazem, 45, who is known as Zod, will follow a turbulent year at Yahoo that included a companywide revamping. ValleyWag: Yahoo's management vacuum.

Dow Jones Investor Urges Bancrofts To Sell (FT)
The largest outside shareholder in Dow Jones has called on the Bancroft family to sell its controlling stake to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., saying the family had no plan in place to lift the company's share price to the level offered by News Corp. Brian Rogers, the chairman and chief investment officer of T. Rowe Price, told the Financial Times: "There might be other buyers more palatable to them. But who's to say Rupert Murdoch is all that bad?" WaPo: WSJ a gem worth saving. VIDEO: "Generally atrocious" management team at Dow Jones.

Who Will Take Rosie's Place On The View (AP)
Now that Rosie O'Donnell has exited stage left, The View must find someone to fill her seat and somehow match her watercooler appeal. That won't be easy, but there's a lineup of famous ladies who could make worthy successors, like Roseanne Barr, Whoopi Goldberg and Bette Midler. Other names that have come up are former talk show host Ricki Lake, comedians Kathy Griffin and Wanda Sykes, Oprah Winfrey's best friend Gayle King and genial actress Sherri Shepherd.

Three Journalists Receive Bullet Threats In Pakistan (NYT)
Unaddressed envelopes, each containing a bullet, were left on or in the cars of three Pakistani journalists in Karachi working for Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press. Journalists groups reacted quickly, describing the act as an attempt to intimidate the press and linking it to a shady group with ties to the Muttahida Quami Movement, the party that controls Karachi and is allied with the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Comedy Business Turns to the Web (NYT)
The Internet is already filled with cheap laughs — YouTube alone offers a lifetime's supply of home videos (some funny, most not). But now many experienced comedians, talent agents and financiers are seeing the Web as a way to showcase talent while trying to turn a profit. In January, Turner Broadcasting began, which features videos created by comedy pros and amateurs. And last year, IAC/InterActiveCorp, controlled by Barry Diller, bought a 51 percent stake in the parent company of for an estimated $20 million. The seven-week-old, which highlights short videos by veteran comics like Will Ferrell, is in discussions with potential advertisers.

Prosecutors Rest Case in Conrad Black Trial (AP)
Prosecutors rested their racketeering and fraud case against the media mogul Conrad M. Black on Wednesday, minutes after announcing they were dropping one money-laundering count against him. Prosecutors did not say why they dropped the count, a decision that came with no fanfare while jurors were out of the courtroom and issues were being discussed by the judge and lawyers.

SF Chronicle Managing Editor Resigns (AP)
San Francisco Chronicle managing editor Robert Rosenthal is stepping down as the Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper braces for a round of deep editorial job cuts. Rosenthal, who joined the Chronicle five years ago, said in a note to staff Tuesday that he is leaving the paper "without rancor or acrimony." He does not have another job lined up, but wants to "help another organization grow and another group of talented people find success." Rosenthal said that his departure was not prompted by any personal conflicts, but rather was intended to give editor Phil Bronstein a freer hand in making the painful restructuring changes to the newsroom.

HBO Close to Naming New CEO (Variety)
HBO is closing in on naming a replacement for Chris Albrecht — or will it be replacements? It still could be weeks before Time Warner officially announces the pay cabler's new corporate hierarchy. But with the shakeup at NBC finally settling down, attention is again turning to who will run HBO. In one scenario, the net could cleave the position in two, with one exec taking charge of the business operations as CEO and the other overseeing the pay web's four programming divisions.

Microsoft's Gates, Apple's Jobs Share Stage (San Jose Mercury News)
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs shared a stage last night in Carlsbad, California, for the first time in more than 20 years to talk about technology's present and future, but it's their intertwined and competitive past that made the historic event so dramatic. Longtime rivals, the two have had distinctively different approaches to technology since the birth of the personal-computer industry. Gates has long sought dominance over the desktop with products that strive for ubiquity, not uniqueness. Jobs revels in his company's penchant for path-breaking design, even as its market share lagged far behind his bigger rival. GigaOM: A kinder, gentler Steve Jobs. WSJ: Video.

Martha Settles ImClone Case With Investors For $30M (Reuters)
A federal judge approved a class-action settlement that requires Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and its founder to pay shareholders $30 million in compensation for losses suffered during the ImClone scandal, lawyers said on Wednesday. The pact requires Stewart to pay $5 million of the total settlement, according to law firm Milberg Weiss & Bershad LLP, which represented the investors.

Fox Interactive Agrees to Buy Photobucket and Flektor (AP)
Fox Interactive Media, a unit of News Corp., has agreed to acquire the photo-storage site Photobucket, just weeks after a public spat in which the popular networking site MySpace partly blocked content from Photobucket. MySpace, which is also owned by News Corp., lifted the block after about two weeks, but both sides have been silent on the details of their peacemaking.

Viacom to Sell Music Publishing Unit to Sony For $370M (NYT)
Viacom has agreed to sell its Famous Music unit, a publishing catalog with rights to roughly 125,000 songs, to Sony/ATV Music Publishing for about $370 million. The deal, which was announced yesterday, includes a wide range of songs, among them classics like "That's Amore" and "Moon River" and newer hits by songwriters including Linda Perry and Akon.

Weather Media Heats Up (B&C)
Interest in the weather is, as meteorologists might say, at a record high. Forecasts can be retrieved from almost anywhere — local TV and radio, 24-hour cable networks such as The Weather Channel, digital channels such as NBC's Weather Plus, weather Web sites, and updates on mobile devices. As a result, competitive pressure to attract viewers has never been greater. To set themselves apart, many weather outlets are increasingly offering longer-range forecasts and touting cases of extreme weather at or near the top of the newscast. But a growing chorus in the meteorological community warns that stations are risking their credibility.

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