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Gannett to Split Broadcasting and Newspaper Businesses

gannett logoIn the third such transaction in less than a week, Gannett is the latest company to announce it is splitting its publishing and broadcasting businesses into two separate companies. Speculation of the breakup has been brewing since earlier this year, when Bloomberg reported Gannett was one of the last media holdouts to shed its slower-growing publishing business.

Gannett’s Broadcasting and Digital company, which has yet to be named, will remain headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and will trade on the NYSE. Gracia Martore will continue as CEO.

Earlier this year, Gannett announced it was acquiring the 6-station London Broadcasting portfolio for $215 million. That came just months after it completed the acquisition of the 20-station Belo TV station group for $2.2 billion. Belo itself had split its TV and newspaper businesses in 2007.

“These acquisitions, combined with our successful initiatives over the past 2-1/2 years to strengthen our Publishing business, make this the right time for a separation into two market-leading companies,” Martore said. The deal is expected to be complete by mid-2015.  Read more

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GAO Says FCC Needs More Data Before Regulating Shared Service Agreements

FCC_304The U.S. Government Accountability Office published a report saying the FCC doesn’t have enough information to regulate shared service agreements.

In its report, the GAO wrote, “FCC does not collect data and has not completed a review on the prevalence of agreements, how they are used, or their effects on its policy goals and media ownership rules.”

The report said the agreements pit cable and satellite providers and consumer groups against station group owners, with cable and satellite providers saying the deals contribute to higher rates for consumers while consumer groups say shared services agreements dilute the quality of news in local markets.

The GAO said reports were mixed on the actual effects of the agreements “because the [retrans] negotiations are subject to nondisclosure agreements, and there is no data source identifying which stations participate in agreements.”

The report concludes by telling the FCC it “should determine whether it needs to collect additional data to understand the prevalence and context of broadcast agreements and whether broadcaster agreements affect its media policy goals of competition, localism, and diversity.”

Deadline Hollywood

Study: A Vanilla Year for Local TV Staffers

pew facts salariesThe Pew Research Center showed a study produced by the RTDNA and Hofstra University detailing “5 facts about the state of local TV newsrooms.”

Despite the combined $8 billion price tag of the nearly 300 stations that were bought and sold over 2013, the study showed news staff at local TV stations are being counted on to do more with less for small increases in low pay.

The study’s five main findings were:

1. Staffing levels have dropped in 2013 with larger stations getting hit the hardest.

2. While news anchor salaries dropped, meteorologist and sports anchor pay stayed the same. Reporters saw a small uptick in pay.

3. Ad revenue from newscasts accounted for 50 percent of a station’s overall revenue in 2013.

4. Slightly more newsroom budgets grew than shrank.

5. Both the number of stations airing newscasts and the number of stations not producing their own newscasts grew.

You can read the entire report by clicking here.

Will Robots Take Over Local TV?

robotWhile robots have already replaced studio camera operators at some local TV stations, it isn’t hard to imagine local stations adopting the latest technology, robotic journalists.

The AP is already using a program called Automated Insights to write business news faster than humans. USA Today reports the AP outputs out about 300 earnings stories per quarter. The new software is supposed to be able to pump out up to 4,400 stories in the same time frame.

The Huffington Post asks are human journalists screwed?

In June, Japan took the idea of robot journalism to the next level when it created the very first robot news anchor: an android that could arguably read news stories better than humans.

It’s not hard to imagine then that there would be some speculation and fear about robots coming into the newsroom practice and taking over the industry. Journalism has been named one of nine professions that humans will eventually lose to robots. The Examiner wrote that AP’s Automated Insights “will replace human journalists this month.” “Computers could soon replace Australian journalists,” the Australian also reported.

But maybe journalists shouldn’t be so afraid after all. Read more

Aereo’s Loss May Be Antenna Supplier’s Gain

aereo_304A Missouri based antenna supplier is looking to take advantage of Aereo’s recent misfortune.

Antennas Direct said it’s giving away 1000 free antennas to Aereo subscribers “as a solution to their signal loss.”

To receive a free antenna, customers must upload their last Aereo billing statement and pay $10 for shipping. They will receive the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2 Complete antenna (50+ mile range), 30 feet of coaxial cable and 20” J-Mount (MSRP $129.99).

“The Aereo Supreme Court case helps illustrate what we have said all along: local digital TV is free, offers more local channels and has a better picture quality than pay TV,” said Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct. “All that’s required is a simple, easy to connect antenna.”

The company said the offer is good through this Sunday July 6 or while supplies last.

[The Hill]

Do Viewers Watch What They Say They Watch?

tv_304The Atlantic reports that viewers who say they want hard news and in-depth reporting are really telling you they want Kim Kardashian and videos of a cat sitting in a green chair for two minutes.

The Atlantic looked at a 2014 Reuters Institue study asking thousands of people across several different countries what news was most important to them. The US respondents said they most wanted national, local, economic and political news. But when Buzzfeed released a review of traffic on its partners sites including The New York Times, The Atlantic and their own site, what they saw was a very different story.

According to that review, the only news events that made the list of the 20 most viral stories across the sites were the Miss America Pageant, an announcement by Netflix and the Video Music Awards. The rest of the list was dominated by stories like “8 Foods We Eat In The US That Are Banned in Other Countries” and “30 Signs You’re Almost 30.”

Ask audiences what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.

Audiences are liars, and the media organizations who listen to them without measuring them are dupes. At the Aspen Ideas Festival last year, Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations for Al Jazeera America, shared survey data suggesting that 40 to 50 million people were desperate for in-depth and original TV journalism. Nine months later, it averaged 10,000 viewers per hour—1.08 percent of Fox News’ audience and 3.7 percent of CNN. AJAM, built for an audience of vegetarians, is stuck with a broccoli stand in a candy shop. Read more

Weather and Crime: It’s What They’re Watching in Milwaukee

tv_304Milwaukee Journal Sentinel TV critic Duane Dudek watched the first 10 minutes of his local stations’ newscasts then broke each down into five categories of what they reported: violent crime, other crime, weather and accidents.

All stations aired variations of the same stories Monday night, but in different order and with different running times. All stations’ lead story involved the night’s frisky storm front and footage of a Nebraska tornado. Other stories included discovery of human remains at N. 13th St. and W. Juneau Ave.; increased police presence after a shooting at a convenience store, and interviews with the young girl injured in the shooting; and several traffic accidents.

The stations came out heavily weighted towards violent crime. According to Dudek, FOX affiliate WITI won the night and also led the other stations in violent crime reporting with 50.5 percent of its first ten minutes devoted to the subject. Connection? Who knows. Interesting? You bet.

WDJT-TV (Channel 58)

Violent crime: 45.6%

Other crime: 11.8%

Weather: 11.1%

Accidents: 6.8%

Other: 23.8%

Followed by: 2-minute, 44-second weather segment

Story no one else had: School drug-testing policy

Lead story after weather: Human remains found

See the other stations after the jump. Read more

What Do Young Viewers Want from TV News?

During last week’s TVNewser Show and Media Job Fair, mediabistroTV took the opportunity to ask young viewers what they wanted from TV news.

While some answers were straight out of the “Targeting Millenials Playbook” a few of the answers might surprise you. Watch the video.

Former Anchor Richard Brown Warns Reporters To Be Careful When Reporting on Crime

brownandjoeWhile speaking at a business event in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, former local and network TV anchor Richard Brown (pictured right with KGO co-anchor Terilyn Joe) had some advice for journalists on reporting crime in the community.

The Battleford’s News-Optimist reports the city was named “Canada’s crime capital” in a CTV News report the night before Brown spoke. A local resident asked the former KGO, WCBS and KXLY anchor how his town could get more balanced coverage from the media.

Brown said the root of what appears to be unfair reporting has two causes, the way the story is told and what he said was the media’s “Watergate mindset,” looking for the bad story underneath the good.

Brown encouraged the community to look for the good news to give to reporters, “whether it is an anti-bullying story, whether it is stories about having communities coming together, because it’s easy for reporters to find the bad news. What you have to do is hand them the good news.”

“You can make the numbers say anything you want,” he said.

“If you’ve got three guys who commit 15 B and Es, that’s not a crime wave. That’s three idiots committing 15 B and Es, but the numbers show up like 15 B and Es.” Read more

WCCB Turns to Sports After Switch to CW

WCCB_CW_logoWCCB, the Charlotte station that lost its FOX affiliation in July, may be looking to local sports teams to help it carve out an identity, the Charlotte Business Journal reports.

The CW affiliate’s general manager Jim White told the CBJ the station is currently in talks with the Charlotte Knights but hasn’t reached an agreement to air the minor league team’s games. The Triple-A team for the MLB’s Chicago White Sox will move into a new stadium next season.

The station hopes to carve out a new identity, in part, by aligning with local sports teams. WCCB started a three-year contract in August to show the home games of the new UNC Charlotte football team. To date, the 49ers games have generated ratings and audiences three to four times larger than what the station anticipated, White says.

White said WCCB would like to air a limited schedule of marquee Knights’ games.

The Bahakel owned WCCB lost its FOX affiliation after FOX made its newly acquired station WJZY one of its O&O’s.

[TVNewsCheck]

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