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As Time Warner Ends Vice Talks, A&E Plans $250M Stake in Media Company

viceThe New York TimesJonathan Mahler scoops that Time Warner has ended negotiations with Vice Media. The talks, which have been going on for months, included a plan to spin off Time Warner’s HLN network, and refashion it into a Vice channel. The Brooklyn-based media company includes a magazine, book publishing, a massive online presence, and gritty, global documentaries which are carried on Time Warner’s HBO.

The conversations collapsed after the two companies were unable to agree on a valuation of Vice. Last year, 21st Century Fox paid $70 million for a 5 percent stake in the company, valuing the company at more than $1 billion.

In June, Vice co-founder and CEO Shane Smith told the New York Times having a TV network was “the next step in our evolution. Our mobile and online stuff is going to grow exponentially, but we want a three-legged stool, and the third leg is TV.”

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported Time Warner had also been in talks with Glenn Beck‘s company about re-branding HLN into TheBlaze TV. But those talks also came to nothing. Earlier this year, under the new leadership of Albie Hecht, HLN intended to become “the home for the social media generation.” Primetime programs include those hosted by Nancy GraceJane Velez-Mitchell, and Dr. Drew Pinsky. Late nights and weekends are made up of true crime stories.

> More: The Financial Times reports Vice is finalizing a deal to sell a 10% stake to A&E Networks for $250 million. A&E is jointly owned by Walt Disney and Hearst. The sale could be announced as early as next week, FT reports.

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Turner Offers Buyouts to Hundreds of Employees; Will Also Seek ‘Additional Reductions in Staffing’

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Breaking: CNN and HLN are beginning a process of offering buyouts to hundreds of employees today. The Turner networks are among those feeling the effects of plan laid out by Turner CEO John Martin in a memo to all employees last week. More specifics came from CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker who told told employees last Tuesday they would hear from their managers about cutbacks. This morning, a note from Turner’s Chief Human Resources Officer arrived. The note, obtained by TVNewser explains that even after buyouts “Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.”

To support the company’s stated focus on programming, monetization and innovation, we are identifying cost savings and shifting capital allocations to high-growth areas where investment will drive growth and profitability. As part of these efforts, we are offering a Voluntary Separation Program to regular status Turner Broadcasting employees on Turner’s U.S. payroll working in the U.S. and who are at least age 55 and have 10 or more years of service as of December 31, 2014, excluding on-air talent and employees covered by a written employment agreement.

Today, employees meeting these eligibility requirements will receive a confidential, personalized email detailing the program, its benefits and deadlines for acceptance, which is strictly voluntary. This enhanced benefit offering is just one vehicle the company is implementing as part of a comprehensive plan. Given the current focus on reducing costs and prioritizing investments to maximize company performance, Turner will also undertake additional reductions in staffing.

We are grateful to the tenured employees whose service and dedication to Turner Broadcasting have made an indelible mark on our business success.

This is all part of Martin’s goal to create a more “streamlined, nimble and efficient company” as part of his “Turner 2020″ plan.

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Time Warner Talked with Glenn Beck About Replacing HLN with The Blaze

BeckGlennHe once hosted a show on the network, but a new report claims there were talks of turning HLN into Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze.

Even as Time Warner continues discussions with Vice media, the Wall Street Journal‘s Keach Hagey reports CNN executives recently met with team Beck as it plans an overhaul of HLN:

Among the possible deals considered was an arrangement similar to the one being discussed with Vice Media, according to a person familiar with the deal: forming a new venture between CNN-parent Time Warner and The Blaze that would replace HLN’s current programming with Blaze programming.

Hagey reports the two sides couldn’t come to terms on a deal. Beck got his start on national TV on Headline News in 2006. He moved to Fox News in 2009, all while continuing his radio show and building his media empire. After leaving Fox News, he launched GBTV, which became The Blaze. Just this week, The Blaze updated its appeal to achieve greater distribution. The digital network is on about 60 small cable systems as well as DISH network, but not on the big 6 carriers which cover 75% of U.S. households.

This all puts the spotlight back on Vice Media. From Hagey: Read more

Dr. Drew on Media Coverage of Depression: ‘Stop Thinking About It As a Sensitive Topic’

Dr-Drew-Pinsky_t580Celebrity deaths — especially the sudden kind — often produce wall-to-wall coverage on TV news, but the root causes behind these tragedies don’t always get the coverage many think is needed.

As Robin Williamssuicide has taken over TV news this week, the not often talked about issue of depression has been thrust to the forefront on many networks. And one cable news host with expertise on the subject has a message for TV news talent and journalists.

“Stop thinking about it as a sensitive topic,” Dr. Drew Pinsky told TVNewser in an interview this afternoon. “Think of it like a topic like any other medical condition, like a cardiac problem, or a lung problem; it just happens to affect the brain.”

“It’s disturbing to me we talk about things like inner demons, which, for God’s sake, is sort of a language that comes out of the Middle Ages. They’re not inner demons; it’s a brain state precipitated by complicated interactions with the environment and it’s a biology that has a medical treatment.”

The coverage has surprised Dr. Drew in another way. “Michael Jackson [death] for some reason didn’t create an ongoing conversation about addiction and pharmaceutical drugs and drug abuse. Somehow, the joy Robin Williams brought us, and the love that everyone feels for him, and the body shot we’ve all taken hearing about his demise, has really given people permission to talk about depression.”

July 2014 Ratings: HLN Down Double Digits

hln logo_304x200A year after the George Zimmerman trial propelled HLN to double- and triple-digit audience growth, the channel is down across the board year-over-year. For the month of July, HLN was fourth in total viewers and third in the demo for total day and fourth in both ratings measurements in primetime.

The ratings for July 2014:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 376,000 total viewers / 128,000 A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 268,000 total viewers / 108,000 A25-54

Compared to July 2013, HLN is down -30% in total viewers and -32% in A25-54 viewers in total day. In primetime, the network is down down -23% in total viewers and -35% in the demo.

Nancy Grace” was the top-rated show on HLN for the month, averaging 371,000 total viewers and 129,000 A25-54 viewers.

Q2 Ratings: HLN Ties for #2 in Total Day Demo

hln logo_304x200For Q2 2014, HLN tied for second in the total day A25-54 demo, however a year after the Jodi Arias trial gave the net a ratings boost, it saw double-digit losses across the board.

The ratings for Q2, 2014:

  • Primetime (Mon-Sun): 340K Total Viewers / 124K A25-54
  • Total Day (Mon-Sun): 247K Total Viewers / 105K A25-54

Compared to Q2 2013, when the network was in wall-to-wall Jodi Arias trial coverage, HLN is down -37% in total viewers and -26% in A25-54 demo viewers for total day. In primetime, they are down -34% in total viewers and -30% in the demo.

Nancy Grace led the way for the HLN in total viewers, drawing 316,000 total viewers. “Forensic Files” was highest-rated in the demo for the network with 136,000 viewers.

HLN Taking Over CNN’s Atlanta Studio

Jeff Zucker Named New Chief Executive At CNNAs Carol Costello and Brooke Baldwin move from Atlanta to New York in August, CNN Atlanta’s Studio 7 will turn over to HLN.

CNN and HLN confirm the switch to TVNewser, which was first reported by FTLive, adding it hasn’t yet been decided which HLN shows will air in that studio. Costello and Baldwin’s production staffs will remain in their Atlanta workspace. Nancy Grace, “HLN Now,” and Morning and Weekend Express currently originate from Atlanta.

Studio 7 served as the location for much of CNN’s 2012 election coverage, including primary nights. The studio utilized a slew of technologies, including John King‘s beloved “Magic Wall.”

How long HLN live programs will remain in studio 7 is up in the air. Earlier this month, reports surfaced that Time Warner was in talks to acquire almost half of Vice Media, and transform HLN into Vice.

Nancy Grace to Father of Missing Child: ‘Your Son Has Been Found in Your Basement’

GraceA rare breaking news situation last night when Nancy Grace informed a Detroit father his missing son had been found during their live interview.

“Charlie, we are getting reports that your son has been found…in your basement,” Grace told Charlie Bothuell, whose son had been missing for 11 days.

10 seconds later, a stunned father answered: “What? What? I checked my basement, the FBI checked my basement, the Detroit Police checked my basement, my wife checked my basement, I’ve been down there several times.” “How can your son be alive in your basement?” Grace responded.

Grace pressed him on why he reported his son missing, and whether he’s checked his cell phone. “My cell phone’s dead…I left it in the car charging,” he responded.

As Grace’s show confirmed reports, they gave Charlie a phone to call home. This morning, Grace phoned in to “Morning Express.” “That does not look like a guilty man to me.”

WATCH:

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These Companies See the Virtues of Vice

vice21st Century Fox already owns a piece of Vice, last week news trickled out that Time Warner was interested in a deal that could see Vice replace HLN, and now there’s word Disney is interested in the news and entertainment juggernaut.

The NYTimes talks with Vice CEO Shane Smith about his desire to take the brand, which consists of dozens of hours of programming for YouTube channels, several websites, and a weekly half-hour HBO show, to TV.

“It’s the next step in our evolution,” Smith says. “Our mobile and online stuff is going to grow exponentially, but we want a three-legged stool, and the third leg is TV.”

Vice has the strongest relationship with Fox, which last year bought a 5 percent stake in the company for $70 million. James Murdoch is on Vice’s board. But a Fox deal faces hurdles, too. The company does not have a logical single channel to give Vice, which is what Mr. Smith most wants. “You can’t be MTV without a TV network,” he said.

An agreement might instead call for Vice to program blocks of time on a few Fox networks. And, of course, Fox’s defining news brand, Fox News, is not popular among Vice’s core audience.

Vinnie Politan Leaving HLN

politan.vinnieVinnie Politan is leaving HLN to join the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, TVNewser has confirmed. News of Politan’s departure was first reported by Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“Vinnie has been a tremendous asset to HLN over the years.  We thank him and wish him only the best,” an HLN spokesperson told TVNewser.

Politan currently hosts “HLN Now: On the Case” weekdays from 2pm-5pmET. Before that, he was the anchor of several former HLN shows, including  “Prime News,” “After Dark” and “Making it in America.” Politan had also worked at HLN sister network truTV as the host of the “In Session” trial coverage, which ended last year. He joined Court TV (later rebranded as truTV) in 2001 and left in 2008, only to rejoin the network in 2009.

Politan’s last day at HLN will be July 3. TVSpy has more on his hire at WXIA.

Politan’s departure is the latest shakeup to HLN, which has seen lots of change over the past several months. Under Albie Hecht’s leadership, the network has rebranded itself as the television home for the social media generation, shuffling programming in primetime and daytime. Last week, it was reported that Time Warner is considering merging HLN with Vice.

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