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TV Business

TVNewsers, It’s Now Safe to Talk On Air About Tim Cook’s Sexuality

cook30f-2-webIn his Bloomberg Businessweek column today, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that yes, he is gay. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” he writes. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

When something is not quite a secret, but also never confirmed as fact, it can present pitfalls to people who talk about CEOs on television, like Simon Hobbs, the CNBC anchor who accidentally outed Cook on air in June. Hobbs was part of a panel discussion with New York Times columnist Jim Stewart, who’d just written a story about the small number of openly gay CEOs–and how those believed to be gay declined to talk about it for his story:

“I got an extremely cool reception,” he recalled, adding that “not one would allow to be named at all.”

“I think Tim Cook is open about the fact he’s gay at the head of Apple,” Hobbs said. “Isn’t he?”

An awkward silence followed as Hobbs quickly realized his snafu.

“Hmm, no,” Stewart said shaking his head.

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Jeff Jarvis Asks Reuters CEO Andrew Rashbass: ‘Does TV News Have to Suck?’

Reuters CEO Andrew Rashbass was at The Paley Center for Media yesterday, and he took on a blunt but entertaining question posed by moderator Jeff Jarvis: “does TV news have to suck?”

Rashbass conceded the news business faces a myriad of challenges, but rooting out the less newsy bits amid the serious reporting isn’t necessarily a good idea:

I think there are lots of ways people find out what’s going on in the world and I think that if we, on the supplier end, get too earnest about the “eating your vegetables” side of news, then I don’t think we are actually fulfilling, actually, our societal purpose and…if that’s what you mean by TV news sucking, then as I say…I think the issue for TV news is a slightly different one which has resulted in some of the characteristics you’re leading to there. And it’s because a lot of the role, TV news has traditionally done, is now being done in other ways. And therefore, I think it’s more a question of relevance rather than anything else. So, as I say, the sort of fun side of TV news or the entertainment side of TV news, I actually rather like.

Dan Rather on The Secret Service, Mark Cuban and Not Having ‘to Kiss Up to Anybody’

Photo - Dan Rather Presents A Crisis Inside The Secret Service on AXS TV (1)

Exclusive: Dan Rather, as the oft-told story goes, went from being an unknown CBS runner to a rising star at the network with his dogged reporting in Dallas on the day President John F. Kennedy was killed.

Years later, in 1981, Rather was just settling into his role as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” when it very nearly happened again. “The Kennedy assassination, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, those were watershed moments for the Secret Service,” Rather told TVNewser in a telephone interview from his home in Austin. “Afterward, major adjustments were made.”

For the last month, Rather has been reflecting on those two defining days, and reporting on the current state of the Secret Service. The agency has been rocked by reports of serious security lapses, both at the White House and in the field as agents traveled with the president. The reporting–led by The Washington Post‘s Carol Leonnig–forced the director of the Secret Service to step down on October 1. “Hats off to The Washington Post, which has done, in my humble opinion, Pulitzer-level reporting on this story,” Rather told us.

Rather’s at work on his next AXS-TV special, “Dan Rather Presents: A Crisis Inside The Secret Service,” which debuts November 18th. Is the agency doing its job to protect the president? “I think the public should be concerned,” Rather said. “The facts speak pretty loudly here.” Rather’s reporting includes talking to contacts inside the agency, and an interview with Ralph Basham (pictured, above, with Rather outside the White House), a former director of the Secret Service.
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Cable One Drops CNN, Other Turner Networks In Carriage Dispute

Cable-One-InternetCNN, HLN, Cartoon Network and other Turner Broadcasting channels have been dropped from Cable One, the country’s 10th-largest cable provider, as part of a carriage dispute. TNT and TBS are also being dropped, right as the MLB Playoffs start.

As a result of the dispute, over 500,000 cable subscribers will be unable to get the channels, mostly in the South and the Midwest, where Cable One has most of its customers.

The timing couldn’t be worse for CNN, which is covering the effects of the government shutdown. Subscribers will also be unable to watch the MLB wildcard and division series games, which start this week on TBS. When CBS was dropped by Time Warner Cable this Summer, it was off the air for a few weeks. It isn’t clear how close Turner and Cable One were in their negotiating process, but the fact that the channels were dropped is not a good sign.

“Turner has a long history and well-earned reputation as a fair and reasonable partner to our distributors and we have worked diligently with Cable One to come to a resolution, even offering an extension that expired at noon today,” a Turner Broadcasting statement said. “We are simply asking that Cable One pay the established and accepted rates already in the marketplace for our portfolio and remain willing to discuss a new agreement that recognizes the strength and value of our networks and the popular programming they offer.”

“Cable One has been in negotiations to renew our contract with Turner Network for the past several months and we have made every effort to reach a fair deal,” Cable One CEO Tom Might said in a statement. “However, Turner has demanded an increase of nearly 50% for channels with steadily declining ratings. Since we were unable to reach a fair deal with Turner, we’ve been forced to drop these channels from our channel line-up.”

WATCH: Three Tips on How to Use Social Media and Keep Your Job


No doubt you’ve heard the cautionary tale of the anchor or reporter who overshared on social media and found themselves quickly underemployed? So how do you juggle your social media life with your professional life?

Stephanie Tsoflias, Mediabistro instructor and working TV reporter, shares her top three tips for keeping your job while using social media.

If you like what you hear, click on this link to sign up for Tsoflias’ “TV News reporting” class or go to mediabistro.com to search for something else you may want to learn.

Les Moonves: ‘It’s good to be back’ on Time Warner Cable

A month ago, when CBS stations first went dark for Time Warner Cable customers, CBS CEO Les Moonves told the LA Times that they were “at war” with the cable company.

As the blackout persisted, the rhetoric only heated up. Now that a deal is done (just in time for the US Open finals and the start of the NFL season), Moonves is striking a more friendly tone toward the company he was at war with, while still acknowledging the rough month.

“This has been a difficult time for our viewers and for CBS. I am glad it’s behind us,” Moonves wrote to staff. “After a terrific summer of programming, we now all look forward to the new television season. It’s good to be back.”

The good news for CBS is that ratings were not significantly affected, though most shows were down slightly. The bad news for consumers is that feuds like these will likely only increase over the next few years, as content companies seek higher carriage fees from cable companies, which in turn are trying to keep prices low so consumers don’t bail on them.

Moonves’ letter to CBS staff, below.
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Les Moonves: ‘Never in my most pessimistic moments’ Could I Have Predicted TWC Stall

This morning the CBS Corporation announced a deal with Verizon Fios to extend their retransmission consent agreement, and to add CBS Sports Network to a lower tier. Following the announcement, CBS CEO Les Moonves sent a note to staff applauding the deal, and sharing some new thoughts on the Time Warner Cable situation.

That memo, which was obtained by TVNewser, shows frustration on the part of Moonves with TWC, and also sheds some light on what may be a sticking point between the two companies.

I cannot describe to you the frustration I feel at the way these negotiations have gone. Never in my most pessimistic moments did I ever think that they would have lasted this long and have been so difficult. In many aspects of the deal, Time Warner Cable is demanding different terms than any other company in the business. I am frankly mystified by what appears to be a lack of urgency to resolve this matter for their customers.

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Al Jazeera America Sues AT&T Over Dropped Carriage

Al Jazeera America has filed suit against AT&T, alleging that the company breached its contract by dropping AJAM the day it launched. AT&T’s Uverse TV product dropped Current TV just a few hours before it switched to AJAM, citing a “contract dispute.”

“Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations,” reads a statement from AJAM. “Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing.

“Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans,” the channel added.

Time Warner Cable dropped Current after Al Jazeera acquired the channel, but it is accepted that TWC had a clause in its contract permitting it to do so if ownership changed. It is not believed that AJAM’s other carriers had similar clauses, making AT&T’s last minute drop all the more puzzling. Typically a carrier would be compelled to carry the channel through the end of the agreement, unless there was a specific “out” clause.

Alison Stewart’s Path from Anchor to Author: ‘It’s a Little Bit Art, a Little Bit Archeology’

When it comes to career paths, Alison Stewart prefers jungle gyms to ladders.

“Instead of ‘climbing the ladder’ and going straight up through the ranks, you zig zag your way up, like on a jungle gym” says Stewart, referencing Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller, ‘Lean In.’ “I could never explain it before. I just kept getting good offers at places, so I took them.”

After zig zagging from MTV to CBS to ABC to MSNBC to PBS, Stewart’s latest incarnation is as author. ‘First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School,’ her inaugural book, was released earlier this month. Both her parents graduated from the Washington, D.C. school.

Stewart began working on ‘Dunbar’ in 2006, while at MSNBC. Five years later, she left her job as cohost of PBS’s ‘Need to Know’ to focus fulltime on the book, and to care for her ailing parents. They later died.

“I always wanted to write a book,” says Stewart, 47, a Brown alum. “I had been offered a ‘Hey, I was at MTV, then at the networks, what did I see?’ deal, and maybe I’ll write that book someday, but I wanted to dig into something that would have some kind of lasting value beyond being entertaining.”

Stewart found herself in a race against time, since many of the early Dunbar grads were in their 80s and 90s. She recorded their memories of the legendary school, which in its prime produced the first black member of a presidential Cabinet, the first black general of the U.S. Army and the first black federal judge.

“I loved talking to people, going into their homes, spending hours with them,” says Stewart, who often traveled by bus from New York and crashed on friends’ couches to minimize expenses. “The research was my favorite part. You discover things. It’s a little bit art, a little bit archeology.”

The writing process, however, was an altogether different experience. “It was a lot lonelier than I expected,” says Stewart, who is married to Bill Wolff, VP of MSNBC primetime and executive producer of “The Rachel Maddow Show.” They have a five-year-old son, Isaac.

“I had to go from being part of a TV show I really liked, to having very little human contact. I hung out with my kid a lot. I took guitar classes. I had to be a lot more proactive about being with other moms — I was ‘class mom’ for two years in preschool.”

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CBS Blacks Out Online Video For TWC Customers, As Competitors Note The Battle

The CBS/Time Warner Cable dispute has entered day three, and there does not appear to be an end in sight for the blackout that has resulted in CBS Stations being pulled for subscribers to the cable company. The latest updates:

CBS has blocked Time Warner Cable broadband customers from watching full episodes of shows on CBS.com, an effort to limit the places customers can watch CBS shows and put pressure on TWC. CBSNews.com video does not appear to be affected yet.

Meanwhile, TWC has replaced CBS’ plum channel two slot with the Starz Kids & Family channel, on what it is calling a temporary basis. TWC previously threatened CBS by saying the channel two slot is not guaranteed to be theirs when they return.

NBC’s “Today” even covered the dispute at 7:30 this morning (watch below), as did “Good Morning America” (watch here). “CBS This Morning” did not cover the dispute, although TWC customers wouldn’t have been able to see it on CBS anyway.

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