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Morning Media Newsfeed: Fox’s 49th Quarter Win | 60 Minutes Owns Up | RIP, @ColbertReport

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2014 Ratings: Fox News No. 1 for 49th Consecutive Quarter (TVNewser)
Fox News finishes its 49th consecutive quarter and 147th consecutive month as the top-rated cable news network, besting the competition in both total day and primetime during the first quarter of 2014. In addition to delivering cable news’ top 14 programs in total viewers and top seven programs in the adults 25-54 demographic, Fox News was the only cable news network to grow compared to the year-ago quarter. Despite a strong March for CNN, MSNBC held on to the second-place spot among the cable news networks in both total day and primetime. HuffPost The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was one of the biggest stories of the month, and CNN — whose obsessive coverage of the plane has brought it both ratings victories and repeated criticism — reaped the rewards in March. The network beat MSNBC in weekday primetime in the demo at the end of the quarter, averaging 240,000 viewers in the 25-54 category to MSNBC’s 201,000. Those numbers represent a 71 percent increase in the demo compared to March 2013. Variety The numbers come as MSNBC pushed hard during the period to cover the “Bridgegate” scandal surrounding New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and they raise the question of whether CNN will be able to sustain its March momentum when and if the MH 370 story loses the interest of news audiences.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: AJ Journos Denied Bail | CNN Hits Digital High | FCC Limits JSAs

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Al-Jazeera Reporters Plead for Release (The Associated Press / The Big Story)
Three Al-Jazeera journalists on trial in Egypt directly asked the judge on Monday to release them, insisting the terrorism charges against them were preposterous. The judge denied the request for bail by Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed during the fourth hearing in the trial that opened on Feb. 20. TVNewser The judge did not accept their plea, adjourning the case until April 10. Australian Broadcasting Corp. It was Greste’s fourth appearance in court after more than 90 days in prison, and in an unusual move he was allowed to directly approach the judge and tell him why he should be freed. In words translated for the judge, Greste said that he had only been in Egypt for two weeks before his arrest and he had no connection with the Muslim Brotherhood. NYT One of the journalists even recounted drinking alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam. It was the first time the journalists were allowed to speak in court, about a hundred days after being detained. All three worked for Al Jazeera’s English-language news channel, and their case has elicited protests from human rights and free-speech groups. Mansour has said in public letters to the journalists’ families that he hoped they were soon released. And for a brief moment on Monday, the judge appeared sympathetic to the journalists’ arguments. CNN International Fahmy told the court that he and his colleagues worked in public rather than in secrecy, and covered Egypt as they would other countries. He questioned how any journalist could be labeled a terrorist. Their lawyers also took up the issue of Fahmy’s health. Fahmy injured his shoulder before his arrest in December. He has complained about not getting proper medical treatment while in prison and says that because of the lack of treatment, he no longer has full use of his right arm. The trial was adjourned until April 10.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Elliott Exits GMA | Piers Morgan Bows Out | NYT Mag Names New Editor

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Josh Elliott Exiting ABC’s Good Morning America for NBC Sports (TheWrap)
After months of speculation over Josh Elliott’s future at ABC News’ Good Morning America, contract talks broke down over the weekend and he will leave his anchor spot for a gig with NBC Sports. Amy Robach will be promoted to news anchor, effective immediately. TVNewser Elliott’s jump to NBC and return to sports comes at the end of intense contract negotiations with ABC News. Elliott will work on most high-profile NBC Sports programs including Sunday Night Football, NBC Olympics and Triple Crown horse racing. NBC is expected to reveal more later this week. Deadline Hollywood Elliott, who had been making about $1.2 million salary at GMA, turned down an offer to stay with the show for $4-$5 million. After his fellow anchor Lara Spencer nailed down a lucrative multiyear contract Thursday, Elliott raised his ask to $10 million a year. Per the terms of Elliott’s exit, he cannot appear on NBC’s Today show for six months. NYT Elliott is the second member of the GMA team to be recruited away from the show by NBCUniversal. Sam Champion, who had been the weather anchor for GMA, was hired by the Weather Channel to start up a new morning show on that cable channel, which is owned by NBCUniversal. ABC did make a strong effort to retain Elliott, offering him about $5 million a year, according to one executive with knowledge of the negotiations. Variety Robach, Elliott’s replacement, began her career as a general assignment reporter in South Carolina and moved on to become a morning anchor in Washington, D.C. She spent five years at NBC where she was an anchor at MSNBC and co-host of Weekend Today. Co-anchors Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos remain as the leads of the show.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Turkey Blocks YouTube | NBC Ends Two Sites | Twitter on The Charts

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Turkish Telecoms Authority Moves Against YouTube After Twitter Ban (Reuters)
The Turkish telecoms authority TIB said on Thursday it had taken an “administrative measure” against YouTube, a week after it blocked access to microblogging site Twitter. NYT / The Lede The Turkish government blocked access to YouTube after an audio recording was uploaded to the platform in which the foreign minister and senior military and intelligence officials could be heard discussing the security situation in Syria. WSJ The leaked recording published anonymously purported to show a conversation in which Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against Jihadist militants in Syria. After the two-part voice file was published, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter to the TIB requesting that it shutter YouTube. The content represents a “first degree threat to national security,” the ministry said, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency. CNN Turkey’s top media regulating agency announced a similar ban on the broadcast of the conversation to television and radio channels. Turkey’s political elite has been battered by a campaign of wiretap leaks recorded by unknown operatives and distributed daily for more than a month on the Internet. Until Wednesday, all of the wiretaps seemed to be recordings of phone conversations between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his inner circle, government officials and some top corporate executives. Politico The move comes just days before significant local elections. Turkish residents decried the Twitter blockage, which prevented them from using the site in any way. A Turkish court overturned the ban on Wednesday, although it could stay in place until after Sunday’s elections. The Twitter crackdown came after similar information appeared on the site questioning the government’s credibility.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Murdoch Ups Sons | Twitter Ban Overturned | NYT Adds Digital Subs

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Rupert Murdoch Elevates Eldest Son to Be His News Corp. Co-Chairman (The Guardian / Greenslade Blog)
Rupert Murdoch’s eldest son, Lachlan, has been promoted to the role of non-executive co-chairman on the News Corp. board. It means that the two will work alongside each other. Rupert, the executive chairman, described the appointment as “recognition of Lachlan’s entrepreneurial leadership and passion for news, digital media and sport.” TVNewser Lachlan has been named non-executive chairman at both News Corp. and 21st Century Fox. The 42-year-old has been a director of both companies, but effectively left the media empire in 2005 where he had been deputy chief operating officer directly responsible for News Corp.’s U.S. television stations group and publishing assets. After Lachlan left News Corp., Roger Ailes, the co-founder and chairman of Fox News Channel, was named chairman of News Corp.’s (now 21st Century Fox’s) television stations group. FishbowlNY The promotion means that Lachlan is all but guaranteed to take over News Corp. when Rupert steps down. In the past, it was believed that James Murdoch was the heir apparent, but no more. James was promoted as well — to co-chief operating officer at 21st Century Fox. Financial Times James’ elevation comes two years after he was embroiled in the U.K. phone hacking scandal as the former head of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper business. His new position gives him a more central executive role at one of America’s most global media companies, in contrast to Lachlan’s non-executive position, keeping him in contention in a succession race that has seen numerous twists. James will share his new title with Chase Carey, a trusted adviser and second-in-command to Rupert, to whom he had reported in his previous role as deputy chief operating officer. Reuters Each son has at various times been seen as heir apparent, and it is unclear how well they will work together when Murdoch finally hands over the companies. The Murdoch family controls both Fox and News Corp. through a trust that has a 38 percent ownership stake of Class B shares with voting rights. A source familiar with the companies said that the plan to elevate Lachlan and James had been in the works for a while and that a tussle over control would be unlikely.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Facebook Buys Oculus | Atlantic Makes Changes | Amazon Credits eBooks

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Facebook Bets $2 Billion on Virtual Reality (Financial Times)
Facebook is making a $2 billion bet that virtual reality headsets will be the next big social platform after computers and smartphones, with the sudden acquisition of Oculus VR. The deal marks an unexpected move by the world’s largest social network into the hardware business, at a time when arch-rival Google is investing in robots, its own Google Glass headset and other long-term ventures. Facebook believes that virtual reality’s applications could extend beyond gaming into entertainment and education. AllFacebook The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter, and it is comprised of $400 million in cash, 23.1 million shares of Facebook class-A common stock (worth $1.6 billion based on the average closing price of $69.35 for the 20 trading days leading up to March 21) and $300 million in potential cash and stock based on reaching certain unspecified milestones. Facebook said in its announcement that more than 75,000 orders have been placed for Oculus Rift development kits, adding that it plans to help Oculus expand into verticals including communications and media. Adweek The Irvine, Calif.-based company’s Rift headset covers the eyes of users and plants them in a virtual reality world in which they can play games, watch movies and interact in new ways. GigaOM Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he sees Oculus as an opportunity to move beyond the console and toward ubiquitous computing. He doesn’t expect Facebook to make money off of selling Oculus hardware; instead, it might become a ubiquitous world for communication that might contain advertising. “Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home,” Zuckerberg explained. Bloomberg The deal follows a spate of acquisitions that Facebook has used to build up its mobile business. Last month, the company agreed to purchase messaging application WhatsApp for $19 billion. In 2012, Facebook bought mobile photo-sharing program Instagram for about $700 million. Facebook had $11.4 billion in cash and investments at the end of 2013.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Sweeney’s Successor | Weiner to Pen Column at BI | Bartiromo Given FNC Show

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Disney Names Ben Sherwood as Anne Sweeney’s Successor (THR)
ABC News president Ben Sherwood has been named Anne Sweeney’s successor as co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group. He’ll officially take over the role on Feb. 1, 2015. TVNewser Sherwood will begin the transition immediately and take on the role of co-president of Disney/ABC while also overseeing ABC News until his successor is named. Variety Sherwood was a front-runner for the job ever since Sweeney shocked industry on March 11 when she announced she was resigning as of January 2015 to pursue a career as a television director. Sherwood steered the rise of Good Morning America and brokered deals like ABC News’ partnership with Yahoo!. He will also serve as co-chairman of Disney Media Networks alongside ESPN’s John Skipper. NYT Among Sherwood’s first decisions — with oversight from Disney chairman Bob Iger and Sweeney — will be the choice of his own successor in the news division. “We have a deep bench of leaders at ABC News,” he said. The standout candidate for that job is James Goldston, the senior vice president of ABC News who has been instrumental first in the revival of the late-night program Nightline and then in the rise of GMAWSJ Sherwood was named president of ABC News in December 2010. He is responsible for all aspects of ABC News’ broadcasts. In addition, Sherwood oversees ABC News Radio, ABCnews.com, satellite service NewsOne and ABC News Now. ABC News reaches a combined audience of well over 270 million people a month on television, on radio and online, and is enjoying significant audience growth driven by a creative renaissance and innovative deal-making. In addition, during Sherwood’s tenure, the news division has won the most prestigious honors in the industry.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: TV Station Mega Merger | Pakistan Censors NYT | Apple Taking on Spotify?

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TV Station Mega Merger: Media General, LIN Set $1.6 Billion Deal (Variety)
Station groups Media General and LIN are poised to merge in a $1.6 billion cash and stock deal that will create the nation’s second-largest pure-play broadcast group. With LIN’s roughly $1 billion in debt included, the deal has an enterprise value of $2.6 billion. TVSpy The deal will bring together 74 stations which are either owned or operated by the two companies in 46 markets. Combined, the new company’s stations will reach 23 percent of U.S. TV households. THR The deal is the latest in the ongoing consolidation of the TV station business as broadcasters have looked for scale to strengthen them in dealings with networks and pay-TV operators and the like. Poynter / MediaWire It is just the latest in a flurry of acquisitions and mergers in the TV industry that has seen Belo broadcast and Gannett merge and earlier, Media General and Young Broadcasting combined forces. Other players including Meredith, Journal, Tribune, NBC Universal and Sinclair have been recent buyers, too. WSJ Greater scale should help the combined company garner higher revenue from fees it charges pay-TV providers to carry its signal, known as retransmission fees. It should also gain leverage in negotiations with media companies. These factors, plus the ability to expand LIN’s digital advertising business and savings from corporate overheard, underpin the companies’ projected $70 million in run-rate synergies over three years.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: Turkey Bans Twitter | Netflix CEO Blasts ISPs | Carney Not Prompted

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Twitter Goes Dark in Turkey Hours After Country’s PM Threatened to ‘Wipe Out’ Service (TechCrunch)
After Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan promised that he would “wipe out” Twitter after it apparently ignored court orders asking the site to remove certain corruption allegations, the service has gone dark in the country. WSJ The move, confirmed by the telecommunications regulator and the state news agency, sent shock waves across Turkey, which is one of the top 10 users of Twitter worldwide with more than 10 million users. Turkish citizens have increasingly turned to the medium to voice opposition to the government and organize demonstrations as mainstream media have avoided criticism of Erdoğan. Variety At a rally in Bursa, Erdoğan pledged to do away with Twitter completely. “We will eradicate Twitter,” he said. “I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” Tensions between Erdoğan and Twitter had been building for some time. On Feb. 25, the prime minister claimed a “robot lobby” was targeting government through Twitter. He also threatened on March 6 to shut down both Twitter and Facebook in Turkey “if necessary.” Bloomberg Businessweek Erdoğan said the microblogging service ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal. The tweets targeted by the premier are from an anonymous user going by the name of Haramzadeler, a Turkish phrase that means Sons of Thieves. The person or persons have been leaking documents and audio files described as the results of a 15-month prosecutor-led investigation into corruption in Erdoğan’s government. Time Those who tried to access Twitter Thursday were taken to a statement from Turkey’s telecommunications regulator that cites court orders allowing the government to ban Twitter. In 2013 during the Occupy Gezi protests, Erdoğan called all of social media “the worst menace to society.” The Washington Post / Morning Mix After Turkey’s Twitter was apparently disabled, the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey went supernova, though Twitter is still accessible via the site’s SMS service, which allows Turks to text in a tweet.

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Morning Media Newsfeed: AP Changes Style | Frum to The Atlantic | Phone Hacker Pressured

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AP Decides That Crimea Can No Longer Be Called Part of Ukraine (HuffPost)
The Associated Press announced Wednesday that it is changing the dateline on all of its stories from Crimea now that the region is being controlled by Russia and not Ukraine. The wire service said that it would no longer identify stories written there as coming from “Ukraine.” Rather, they will carry the dateline “Crimea.” The Hill / Global Affairs “Previously, we wrote ‘SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP).’ But Ukraine no longer controls Crimea, and AP datelines should reflect the facts on the ground,” the news wire wrote in a guidance. Effective this week, the AP said it will now name a city and then Crimea. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Because of a quirk of geography — the fact that Crimea doesn’t share a land border with Russia — the AP says it won’t use a “SEVASTOPOL, Russia” dateline, which would inevitably spur a heated political debate. The Guardian The AP has waded into controversy before on its quest to avoid controversy. A year ago, the AP banned “illegal immigrant” and “illegal” to describe a person, explaining that “‘illegal’ should describe only an action,” especially as the editors decided it was important not to label people, “instead of behavior.” Slate / The Slatest The latest decision also begs the question, what would the AP do if there were a shared border or if Russia were to grab more land in Ukraine, thereby connecting the regions?

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