Archive for the Miscellaneous Subjects Category

DirectTV Wins?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on April 8, 2014 by icn2

The Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranika, Shalini Ramachandran, and Ryan Dezember write about The Weather Channel returning to DirecTV…

Nonetheless, DirecTV’s decision to bring the Weather Channel back to its lineup gives a boost to Blackstone and its fellow owners, Bain Capital LLC and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, which paid about $3.5 billion to acquire the business in 2008. DirecTV wanted to cut the fee it paid to carry the Weather Channel, which would likely have prompted a string of other TV providers to ask for a similar reduction. DirecTV CEO Mike White said in a public letter to customers earlier this year that the Weather Channel was worth only “one quarter of the price” the channel wanted the satellite operator to pay.

Any reduction in the Weather Channel’s fees would hurt Weather Co.’s bottom line at a time when its private-equity owners are pondering an exit from their investment. The price of Weather Co.’s debt jumped higher on news of the agreement with DirecTV, according to data provider S&P Capital IQ LCD.

If a deal hadn’t been reached, the Weather Channel stood to permanently lose about one-fifth of its potential audience. DirecTV is the second-biggest pay-TV operator, serving about 20 million subscribers.

As things turned out, DirecTV agreed to a small increase in the fees it pays to the Weather Channel, although the increase will be less than the penny per subscriber a month the channel wanted, one of the people said. The Weather Channel now receives about 13 cents per subscriber a month, estimates research firm SNL Kagan.

I’m going to score this as a win for DirecTV on points. Not an overwhelming victory but certainly better than a draw. DirecTV got the Weather Channel to offer more weather which made the channel a more attractive property from its point of view and it didn’t have to pay the amount The Weather Channel wanted. It’s a win-win for both channels but more of a win for DirecTV.

Context Matters…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on April 7, 2014 by icn2

This BrandIndex report on Cable News branding is getting some play today.

Unlike past major breaking news stories, coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 over the past three weeks does not seem to have had much impact on cable news network consumer perception, with CNN and CNN Headline News actually drifting downward over the last three weeks.

Both CNN networks had been at, or close to, one year highs on consumer perception at the end of 2013, but both have been declining since the start of 2014, unstopped by the recent aggressive coverage of the lost air flight. Meanwhile, Fox News has remained steady and in positive territory. MSNBC ranks fourth out of the group.

It sounded interesting to me at first and those graphs looked bad, especially for CNN. But then I read this…

YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz scores range from 100 to -100 and compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive.

So I thought about this for a bit. That three week decline mentioned above amounted to less than one full point. One point out of a possible 200 (given that the overall range swings from 100 to -100). That translates into a three week branding swing of less than .5%. In fact CNN’s entire measured range from 01/13 – today was only slightly over 16 points out of a possible 200 which would equal about an 8% swing range.

So I don’t read a lot into that graph. Yes, CNN is down for the year and down in whatever metrics BrandIndex uses to measure branding since the MH370 coverage started (while its ratings went up before trailing off a bit). But taken in context with the overall range BrandIndex uses the changes seem to be paltry.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on April 2, 2014 by icn2

Last night on Sportscenter, just before the 11pm ET hour, Robert Flores did an incredibly dumb thing. While showing a hodge podge of clips, a clip appeared from one of the Dodgers’ games down in Australia where this kid got upset because he didn’t get tossed a foul ball (it was accidentally given to the wrong kid before the right kid got it). Over this scene Flores mustered his best Aussie accent (needs work) and said the following…

“A dingo ate my baby!”

Most of you will not get the significance of that quote and this is also why Flores will in all likelihood get a pass and ESPN won’t be forced to issue an apology for Flores’ remark…unless of course Deadspin picks up on it.

The quote Flores uttered, seemingly blind to its significance, is a reference to the Azaria Chamberlain case. To say that this case was a big deal in the land down under would be a massive understatement. It was as massive as Jon Benet, OJ, Totmom, and Trayvon rolled into one. Azaria’s mother went to prison for this, only to be released some years later when new evidence emerged. This case is 34 years old and was still making headlines two years ago.

Put it in these terms. The US equivalent of the above comment would be something along the lines of Sportscenter showing a clip from a Red Sox game and Flores then uttering the following…

“A backpack blew up my sister!”

That’s how serious an issue it is down under.

A baby was killed, a mother sent to prison, various levels of government weighed in, a nation was enthralled by the case for decades.

Against this backdrop you do not make flippant comments about subjects you obviously have no clue over, Robert Flores. You just don’t go there.

Correcting the Record or Tin Foil Hat Time?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on March 22, 2014 by icn2

Remember that on air condemnation of RT TV by now ex anchor Liz Wahl? Well Truthdig’s Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek write things may not have been quite what they seem…

Six current employees of RT were interviewed for this investigation. All are Americans who made no secret of their qualms with the network’s coverage of Russia-related issues. Some said they bristled at an increasingly suffocating atmosphere rife with heavy-handed editorial imposition, while others in different positions at the network said they still enjoyed a modicum of independence. All insisted on speaking anonymously for fear of repercussions. Four of the sources were personally acquainted with Wahl and worked or interacted with her on a regular basis.

Each of those who knew her described her as apolitical.

“She’s never had a political bone in her body,” said one RT employee.

“Liz has always been apolitical and without any clear principles,” said another. “She didn’t talk about any politics outside of work.”

An RT employee who worked closely with Wahl added that Wahl rarely voiced objections about the network’s news coverage. “We do have editorial meetings in the morning to bring up questions comments or concerns, an opportunity Liz rarely took,” said the employee.

Before joining RT, Wahl interned for the right-wing Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Last spring, according to four former co-workers, Wahl was suspended for two weeks without pay and then demoted from anchor to correspondent after a series of outbursts in the office. She had become disgruntled about her salary, the sources said, then began complaining that she was receiving insufficient assistance from producers in writing her monologues.

“Liz wasn’t disgruntled about anything editorially. It was entirely about payment,” one ex-colleague remarked. “She learned that another correspondent who has since left had made more money than her. But that’s because this correspondent had had six more years more experience than her.”

Wahl expressed her outrage at co-workers, often berating them, according to her former colleagues, and by “screaming” at management. She was ultimately suspended without pay for her unprofessional behavior, they told us, and demoted from anchor to correspondent until her duties were restored this past January. A review of RT America’s YouTube page shows that Wahl did not appear at the anchor desk during the latter half of 2013.

After Kirchick’s on-air performance on Aug. 21, RT employees said Wahl gushed about his actions—one of the few times they could remember her expressing a political opinion. As Kirchick revealed in his Daily Beast exclusive, it was around this time that he and Wahl became friends.

Blumenthal and Khalek go on to detail how Wahl’s resignation may have been less about journalistica principles and more about a neoconservatism and rekindling the Cold War…

Overcoverage? Bring it on!

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on March 17, 2014 by icn2

Reuters’ Jack Shafer writes about the coverage of MH370

So unlike Fox News press reporter Howard Kurtz (“It’s too much with too few facts,” he said last week of the saturation reporting by his former network, CNN, about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370), I can handle any “over”-coverage the news machine chooses to throw my way. By handle, I usually mean avoid, but on a story like MH370, I desire the sort of coverage that could fill the Indian Ocean, which I did not know until last week had an average depth of 2.5 miles.

That fact was only one of the scores of news nuggets I’ve chewed and swallowed since the airliner was reported missing on March 8. While I’m aware that the flight’s fate, its back story, and repercussions will have no impact on my life, and that there aren’t enough degrees of Kevin Bacon to connect me to 95 percent of the missing passengers, I have clawed my way through stories and even stayed up at night to learn about transponders, the different kinds of radars, the stolen passport business, the number of air strips within MH370′s flight range that could have accommodated a landing, general Malaysian political incompetence, Southeast Asian geography, satellite telemetry, international relations, black boxes, the workings of the Malaysian criminal justice system, the Andaman Islands, life raft locator radios, search technologies, air navigation and more. One measure of my devotion to this story is that I even watched an oceanographer talk on Charlie Rose about the missing aircraft.

None of my newly acquired knowledge will serve me in any tangible way. It won’t improve democracy or raise productivity. I doubt that it will even make me a better journalist, although it might make me a better conversationalist. But the story has wedged its way into my consciousness and will persist until somebody locates the Boeing 777 and solves the mystery.

Much has been made about how provisional some of the findings of journalists have been in their coverage of MH370 — inaccuracies about the origin of the flight data and what time the flight disappeared, the provenance of the debris spotted by a satellite and the number of no-shows for the flight. As my colleague Erik Wemple of the Washington Post explained last week, fast-moving stories routinely produce conflicting reports; as was the case with the Boston Marathon bombing, the Washington Navy Yard shootings and the Newtown slaughter. Dozens of conflicting reports emerged from the Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008, the 9/11 attacks, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and even Watergate reporting. I’m not making excuses for anybody, but those who expect perfect reporting from the scene of breaking news haven’t been paying close attention to what they have been consuming over the years.

Good Luck With That…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on March 6, 2014 by icn2

BloombergBusinessweek’s Karl Taro Greenfeld profiles NewsMax’s Chris Ruddy and writes about Ruddy’s ambitions for a cable news channel…

Ruddy is registered as an Independent and is more moderate than the rhetoric typically espoused by his media properties. He has become friends with Bill and Hillary Clinton and won’t rule out supporting Hillary for president in 2016. All of which makes his latest ambition, to build a TV network that he believes will challenge the conservative news monopoly of Fox News, either a misguided fantasy or a cunningly disruptive business plan.

For the last 18 years, Fox News, led by its president, Roger Ailes, has exploited its unique slant on the news to generate nearly $1 billion in profits a year for parent 21st Century Fox (FOXA). There’s been no serious conservative competitor to Fox News, and Ruddy has never understood why. (Fox News didn’t make anyone available for comment.) “How do you have something so successful in cable that nobody else wants to imitate or cut into their market share?” Ruddy says. “It defies reason.”

This June, Ruddy plans to launch NewsmaxTV, a 24-hour cable news channel that will be, he says, a kinder, gentler Fox. “Our goal is to be a little more boomer-oriented, more information-based rather than being vituperative and polarizing,” he says. Ruddy says he can make NewsmaxTV profitable entirely through advertising and selling Newsmax’s consumer products over the air. It’s the same business model that’s been successful for QVC, Home Shopping Network (HSNI), and numerous televangelists, but no one has tried it in cable news. He’s quick to add that he doesn’t need to beat Fox News, he just needs to shave off a little of its audience—particularly those conservatives who feel Fox has drifted too far to the right. “If we take 10 to 15 percent of the Fox audience,” he says, “and they are making $1 billion a year, then we are going to be hugely profitable.”

If anyone was interested what happens when someone tries a Current TV on the conservative side the spectrum, they may soon get their wish. I wish them luck. They’ll need it…

Bob Casale: July 14, 1952 – February 17, 2014

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on February 18, 2014 by icn2

Anyone who figured out why I picked the alias I picked knows that I am very sad today. Bob #2 died today and with him went one of the most under-appreciated, unheralded, inspirational, ahead-of-their-time bands ever.

The ignorant long ago pigeon holed DEVO as either a novelty act because of the way they dressed or a one hit wonder because all they can remember is “Whip It”. But those who paid attention saw a band that was at the musical forefront in the late 70s and early 80s, a band that saw the future of video before MTV and integrated video into their live performances decades before most bands embraced the technology. DEVO went unplugged before unplugged became trendy.

The band that David Bowie once introduced as “The band of the future” belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I doubt the nabobs in the Hall have the foresight to ever put them in but we Spuds who got to hear their records and see them live know the truth…

We are all DEVO…

Early Reaction to Comcast/TWC…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on February 12, 2014 by icn2

The public interest group Public Knowledge has released a statement from John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney, on tonight’s Comcast/Time Warner Cable news…

Public Knowledge Statement on Comcast/Time Warner Cable Merger

“Comcast cannot be allowed to purchase Time Warner Cable. Antitrust authorities and the FCC must stop it.

“If Comcast takes over Time Warner Cable, it would yield unprecedented gatekeeper power in several important markets. It is already the nation’s largest ISP, the nation’s largest video provider, and the nation’s largest home phone provider. It also controls a movie studio, broadcast network, and many popular cable channels. An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard, able to dictate terms to content creators, Internet companies, other communications networks that must interconnect with it, and distributors who must access its content. By raising the costs of its rivals and business partners, an enlarged Comcast would raise costs for consumers, who ultimately pay the bills. It would be able to keep others from innovating, while facing little pressure to improve its own service. New equipment, new services, and new content would have to meet with its approval to stand any chance of succeeding.

“What’s more, it is simply dangerous for a large proportion of our nation’s critical communications infrastructure to be in the hands of just one provider.

“TV viewers, Internet users, and everyone who depends on a well-functioning communications marketplace would not benefit from an even more powerful Comcast. Fortunately, the regulators and law enforcement agencies who must approve a deal between Comcast and Time Warner Cable are empowered to promote the public interest, not Comcast’s interest in empire-building. We call on them to protect the public and stop this deal.”

Suckers…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on February 12, 2014 by icn2

This morning saw some dodgy reporting by TVNewser. Broadcast TV is not my normal arena but some things are just so outlandish they can’t be ignored. Under what would later turn out to be the dubious headline of “On Day 2 of the Sochi Olympics, ‘GMA’ beats ‘Today’” TVN posted this laughable item…

Despite a win for the “Today” show on the first day of the Sochi Olympics, Tuesday’s numbers bring bad news for NBC: according to Nielsen’s Time Period Fast Affiliate data, “Good Morning America” topped “Today” by +804,000 total viewers and +237,000 A25-54 viewers on the second weekday broadcast of the Olympics.

Compared to the same day during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, “GMA” has slashed the gap with “Today” by -151% in total viewers and -122% in the demo. During the 2010 Games, Today” — which at the time was the dominant morning show – made significant gains on “GMA” from Day 1 to Day 2 of the Olympics.

In another ratings measurement, Nielsen Fast Nationals, “Today” edged out a win in the demo, beating “GMA” by +90,000 A25-54 viewers. “GMA” still won in total viewers by +412,000. We’ll have the final ratings next week.

The drop for “Today” is consistent with a drop in Olympic ratings: Sunday’s primetime broadcast averaged 26.3 million for NBC, while Monday’s only pulled in 22.4 million, according to TV by the Numbers. ABC may also have gotten a boost from Monday’s episode of “The Bachelor,” which delivered almost 8 million viewers from 8-10pmET.

The win for “GMA” marks the first time since the beginning of electronic records that a network morning show that didn’t carry the Olympics won a morning.

The post is very confusing for neophytes…all the more reason to strive for accuracy and clearing the record…something the site still has not done.

First, TVN says Today lost to GMA citing a stat that said Today lost by 237,000 viewers in the Demo. Then later on in the piece TVN cited another stat that said that Today beat GMA in the Demo by 90,000 viewers.

(ICN pauses to let readers scratch their heads)

Two sets of Demo numbers…each telling a remarkably different story…and no context to explain this rather galling discrepency. So let’s provide that context right now…

The first set showing the GMA win, obviously provided by an overly aggressive ABC PR department, were based on the little known, never cited outside the research department, Time Period Fast Affilliate Data. The second set of numbers, probably supplied later on by NBC’s PR department, were the less obscure, sometimes cited outside the research department, Fast Nationals.

One is way more accurate than the other. I’ll give you three guesses as to which it is.

Hint: It’s sometimes cited outside the research department.

So…what happened here can now be explained. ABC used the flimsy Time Period Fast Affiliate Data to sandbag NBC with a big (probably unwitting) helping hand from TVN. Then the more accurate Fast Nationals came out and what was a 237k Demo win for GMA turned into a 90k Demo loss.

But did TVN correct its “GMA wins” headline?

Noooooo.

Did TVN clarify that the second set of numbers trumped the first set of numbers?

Noooooo.

Did TVN apologize to its readers for getting suckered into posting flimsy numbers that told a story that turned out to be 180 degrees from the actual story?

Noooooo.

Black eye for ABC. Black eye for TVNewser. NBC must be furious…

Comcast to Buy Time Warner Cable…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on February 12, 2014 by icn2

Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow writes about Comcast making an offer for Time Warner Cable…

Comcast is set to buy Time Warner Cable in an all-stock deal that values Time Warner at $159 per share, CNBC’s David Faber reports on Twitter.
At $159, Comcast would be paying an 18% premium to today’s closing price. It would value Time Warner Cable at ~$45 billion. Comcast is valued at $146.5 billion.

This would make one gigantic cable company.

No kidding. I really don’t see how this clears anti-trust without severe divestment on Comcast’s part…

What’s Hot/What’s Not: Submissions

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects, What's Hot/What's Not on January 25, 2014 by icn2

Post your nominations for this week’s What’s Hot/What’s Not. I’ll post the finalists on Sunday…

Chutzpah…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 21, 2014 by icn2

The LA Times’ Joe Flint writes about a four newspaper ad bombardment by The Weather Channel. Full page ads will be taken out in The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal featuring an “open letter” from Weather Channel CEO David Kenney to the DirecTV board.

In the letter, Weather Co. Chairman and Chief Executive David Kenny writes that since the network was dropped Jan. 13, “many thousands have called your customer service centers asking to terminate their contracts since they are now getting less content for the same price. But DIRECTV is threatening them with termination fees of $200 to $400.”

Kenny said in an interview that 90,000 people have pledged to Weather Channel to drop DirecTV, but they can’t afford to follow through because of the fees associated with canceling their subscriptions.

“They should be allowed to switch when you take something away they really value,” Kenny said, adding that “fairness should trump fine print sometimes.”

What brazen audacity. This is farcical and the DirecTV board will do nothing. First, even if they entertained suicidal thoughts about granting The Weather Channel’s silly request they could never implement it. Anybody who wanted to quit DirecTV, regardless of whether it was because of The Weather Channel or not, would use The Weather Channel as an excuse. How could DirecTV possibly know whose claim of wanting to quit the service because of the Weather Channel being dropped is genuine and whose is not? Well they can’t. So this grandstanding by The Weather Channel will go nowhere.

p.s. 90,000? Out of 20,000,000 subscribers? That’s .4%. For DirecTV, that’s a rounding error. For DirecTV to be concerned the number would have to be orders of magnitude higher. Looks like DirecTV may know its audience better than The Weather Channel does…

Company buys poll covering subject Company has big financial interest in. Company releases bought poll results to boost case Company has big financial stake in. Much laughter ensues…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 17, 2014 by icn2

This is a joke. Should anyone seriously take a poll commissioned by The Weather Channel regarding something it has millions riding on at face value? Apparently the slackers at TVNewser did since they wrote it up without typing “lolololololololol’ all over it…

On the other hand the polls results do inadvertently make a point The Weather Channel may not like spread around. If…if…we take these results at face value…which I don’t and neither should you…it means less than 10% of DirecTVs subscribers would bolt over this…less than 2,000,000. But that also means that 18,000,000 would not. It also means that 18,000,000 people don’t buy that BS ‘We are like a public utility and you cant afford to get by without us because your safety is at stake’ mumbo jumbo. Maybe they will drop that line of attack now since it clearly is not resonating like they hoped it would.

The Weather Channel Drops Off DirecTV…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 13, 2014 by icn2

Here is The Weather Channel’s statement on disappearing from DirecTV…

STATEMENT FROM THE WEATHER COMPANY CHAIRMAN AND CEO DAVID KENNY

ATLANTA — January 14, 2014 — At 12:01 this morning, The Weather Channel is no longer available on DIRECTV, which refused to come to an agreement on a market-based carriage deal. Following is a statement from David Kenny, chairman and CEO of The Weather Company:

“This is unprecedented for The Weather Channel. In our 32 years, we have never had a significant disruption due to a failure to reach a carriage agreement. We offered DIRECTV the best rate for our programming, and I am shocked they have put corporate profits ahead of keeping a trusted channel that subscribers rely on every day. We are not looking for a large fee increase. We are simply looking for a fair deal that allows our company to continue to invest in the science and technology that enables us to keep people safe, deliver the world’s best weather, and tell weather stories to help people be prepared and informed.
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The Weather Channel’s Apocalyptic Gameplan…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 11, 2014 by icn2

Deadline’s Lisa De Moraes writes about the silly little display that went on today at the TCA concerning The Weather Channel…

A major storm rained down on Winter TV Press Tour 2014 this morning when The Weather Channel took the stage to blast DirectTV over their current carriage dispute. In anticipation of the channel’s appearance before a couple hundred journalists at the tour, it issued an ominous campaign late last night warning viewers they needed to contact their congressional reps to intervene, or else DirecTV would take away “its critical weather programming,” calling it a “public safety issue.”

TV critics at the press tour weren’t entirely drinking The Weather Channel’s Kool-aid. One critic noted TWC is a successful company owned by a big corporation, asking “Is it fair to declare it a public utility?” in what’s really a business dispute.

DirecTV Weather channel“Absolutely. And I’m not kidding,” Weather Channel president David Clark responded ominously. “If you’ve ever been in a severe weather situation and you need to make a decision to protect your family and you need to make it fast” you need “to know your information comes from a trusted source… We have a mission to serve that we take seriously. Don’t think you can stand a fly-by-night alternative to that,” he said, warning “you’re going to be putting your audience at risk.”

What utter claptrap. 10-15 years ago you could make a slightly more plausible argument about The Weather Channel’s place as a go to destination in a crisis. But today we have the internet. We have local TV which gets served by companies like Accuweather. We have radio. We have cable news. We have the nightly newscasts. We have apps you can download to your smartphone. We have many choices…all as good as the Weather Channel.

What this campaign really amounts to is a scare tactic…but one without much teeth. The Weather Channel is trying to scare the public into thinking that they’re about to lose a resource they can’t get anywhere else. If…if…The Weather Channel was about to drop off all providers at once you might be in a better place to make that argument. But this is just one operator.

And that’s why this is such a big deal. The Weather Channel fears what could happen next if DirecTV prevails either by dropping the channel or by successfully negotiating a more restrained financial carriage agreement…that this will be the first of many dominoes that could fall against it as more carriage agreements come up for renewal down the road.

Thus the semi-apocalyptic statements coming from The Weather Channel. It knows what’s at stake. It’s in a battle for relevance…in heated competition with a multitude of perfectly acceptable weather forecasting options. In other words, it’s in a fight for its very existence.

Home Movies…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 5, 2014 by icn2

During the Christmas break I finally finished assembling the footage from my trip to Palau in February 2013. This is one of the eighteen or so dives I did there…the only day when we had clear skies. Ulong Channel is on many divers’ bucket lists because you ride the currents through the channel. It’s a total rush. This was the first time ever I got to do this. My previous five attempts didn’t work out.

Cable News 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 4, 2014 by icn2

A new year. Time for new resolutions. Once again here are the 2014 Cable News Resolutions…resolved in absentia by yours truly…

ICN resolves on behalf of CNN…

To not overdo this year’s changes – More changes are coming in 2014. Expect primetime to be overhauled. Expect mornings to continue to be worked over. Expect more tape. Expect talent and format changes in dayside. But a moderating effect is required as these changes are implemented. Wholesale change risks alienating CNN’s core viewership…a viewership which has other alternatives such as Al Jazeera America to turn to.

ICN resolves on behalf of MSNBC…

To not oversell Ronan Farrow – The network has done a piss poor job of it so far. Expectations have been set ridiculously high for the under 30 whiz kid and the network has done nothing to tamp them down. Worse than do nothing, it’s actually encouraged it a bit. Maddow became a name because she worked at it. Hayes became a name because he worked at it. Schultz became a name and carved out a following because he worked at it. None of them were annointed by the network as the next great thing in news prior to their debut.

To not overdo this year’s changes – Changes are coming to dayside. Some changes have already been announced but more are coming. Nothing appears to be off the table. MSNBC dayside ratings took a beating last year so change should not be unexpected. But what gets changed matters. Making talent changes when the format is the problem (“we don’t do news”) is not the solution.

To set some standards about what’s acceptable behavior – I don’t buy the “culture of hate” argument that some of MSNBC’s critics have tossed at the network after a bunch of bad PR controversies erupted at the end of 2013. That said, it is clear that MSNBC’s internal barometer of what constitutes acceptable TV and what doesn’t is currently on the fritz. Fix the barometer and stop firing off self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

ICN resolves on behalf of FNC…

To stop whining about Obama Administration abuse of the press corps (and its own reporters) when its own PR department regularly abuses the people who write about it – You look silly complaining about the treatment of reporters by the Administration when your own administration holds just as much contempt of the press that cover it.

More of the same – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Aside from the lineup changes that occurred towards the end of this year (which were precisely what I resolved would happen at the start of 2013…see below) FNC doesn’t need to do anything radical. It’s been #1 for so long…and by a wide margin…that change for change’s sake would be too risky.

ICN resolves on behalf of Al Jazeera America…

To get more market penetration – To get hung up on format and/or talent issues at this stage of AJA’s birth would be counterproductive. No, the single most important aspect of AJA’s immediate future must be greater market penetration. Increased HD coverage wouldn’t hurt but would come in a distant distant second or third.

ICN resolves on behalf of Bloomberg TV…

To have a future – Towards the end of 2013 a series of articles came out pointing to the possibility of a wholesale re-evaluation of the entire Bloomberg TV franchise. Not a good way to start the new year with your very future in question. This needs to be resolved one way or another very quickly.

ICN resolves on behalf of CNBC…

To stop the bleeding – Ratings are down, major talent is defecting…2013 has not been a great year for Englewood Cliffs. The franchise desperately needs to send a signal that it is working to reverse this negative trend.

ICN resolves on behalf of FBN…

Expand, expand, expand! – 2014 is looking to be the year the network makes its biggest push since it first launched. New studio space is coming. Maria Bartiromo is coming.

It’s business news stupid – Giving Kennedy a show? On a business channel? How many times is FBN going to put libertarian types on to wax-non business only to subsequently take them off again? This behavior is starting to resemble a stuck record.

2013′s resolutions…
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2013 Numbers: CNN…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on January 2, 2014 by icn2

CNN is noting its 2013 ratings. Pay close attention to those CNN dayside numbers vs. MSNBC. It will go a long way towards explaining what’s soon to transpire at 30 Rock…and I don’t just mean Ronan Farrow.

CNN Moves Past MSNBC to Finish 2013 as #2 Rated Cable News Network

All CNN Primetime Programs are Up While FOX and MSNBC Programs are Down

2013 Marks Best Year in History for CNN Digital

For the first time in two years, CNN ended the year as the #2 rated cable news network, topping MSNBC in total day in total viewers (414k vs. 397k). Also this year, CNN’s audience levels remained steady compared to 2012, while both FOX and MSNBC were down double-digits this year. Among all of CNN’s properties, HLN’s rating grew strongly this year vs. a year ago and CNN Digital had its best year in history.

In total day (6am-6am) CNN ratings remained even this year vs. a year ago in total viewers (414k vs. 416k) and in the demo 25-54 (132k vs.134k). MSNBC lost close to a quarter of its audience in 2013 vs. last year, down -21% in total viewers (397k vs. 500k) and -20% in the demo rating (133k vs. 167k). Without the series “Lock Up” and “Caught on Camera,” etc. MSNBC ratings fall even more dramatically, from 133k to 117k. FOX was off -5% in total viewers and down -18% in the demo 25-54 in 2013. Also, CNN narrowed the gap with FOX by a third from 140k (134k vs. 274k) to 93k (132k vs. 225k) among adults 25-54 vs. the same period a year ago.
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Bests and Worsts of 2013

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 18, 2013 by icn2

Well it’s that time of year again where everyone weighs in with their Bests and Worsts lists for 2013. Mediaite has a Best of list and a Worst of list. I’m going to chime in with my opinions to the cable news portions…

Best Cable News Anchor:

Andrew Kirell: Shepard Smith, Fox
Evan McMurry: Chris Wallace, Fox
Noah Rothman: Bret Baier, Fox
Tommy Christopher: Jake Tapper, CNN
Matt Wilstein: Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
Josh Feldman: Don Lemon, CNN

Worst Cable News Host:

Andrew Kirell: Martin Bashir, MSNBC
Evan McMurry: Greg Gutfeld, Fox
Noah Rothman: Chris Matthews, MSNBC
Tommy Christopher: Joe Scarborough, MSNBC
Matt Wilstein: Gretchen Carlson, Fox
Josh Feldman: Dear God, Chris Matthews, MSNBC

Setting aside the conflation of categories – Best list of ANCHORS, Worst list of HOSTS – I find it illuminating that five of the six respondents gravitated towards a journalist anchor in the Best category and four of the six gravitated to an opinion pundit in the Worst category. The unstated inference here is that people tend to go for talents they disagree with for their opinions when selecting a Worst whereas they tend to go for people with more journalistic bonafides in selecting a Best.

I wouldn’t single out one journalist anchor for best status because there’s too many who are too good to be left out. So my response would be a list of people I consider above and beyond their peers but for different reasons:

Shepard Smith, FNC
Jake Tapper, CNN
Bret Baier, FNC
Chris Jansing, MSNBC
Jon Scott, FNC
Brooke Baldwin, CNN
Chuck Todd, MSNBC
Anderson Cooper, CNN

I chided the Mediaite Worst list on Twitter as being universally wrong. My beef with the list is that all the choices are technically proficient at their craft. Much as I would love to throw in with Kirell on Martin Bashir, I can’t because he’s technically proficient at what he does. I object to him over what he does and how he does it. But that’s based on the notion that I’m personally offended by what Bashir utters and how he utters it rather than whether he utters it badly. For the purposes of this blog, technical proficiency is what I care about. When you start objecting to partisan rancor and the methods it takes you enter a gray area that says more about you than it does your selection.

I have a selection for this category but I’m not going to reveal it. Some people are naturals at this. Some people need work. And some people just look awkward on the air. I see no need in pointing out someone’s shortcomings in a medium that not everyone can easily get the hang of.

Best Cable News Pundit:

Andrew Kirell: Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox
Evan McMurry: Alex Pareene
Noah Rothman: Charles Krauthammer, Fox
Tommy Christopher: Joy Reid, MSNBC
Matt Wilstein: Marc Lamont Hill
Josh Feldman: This guy

Worst Cable News Pundit:

Andrew Kirell: Keith Ablow, Fox
Evan McMurry: Monica Crowley, Fox
Noah Rothman: Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC
Tommy Christopher: Mark Halperin, MSNBC
Matt Wilstein: Michelle Malkin, Fox
Josh Feldman: Bob Woodward

Best…Worst…I con’t care. I care that there are too many of them on cable news. Period. Cable News’ crutch of pundit dependency in lieu of reporting more news stories is one of the biggest time wasters I know. The only exception I carve out of this are the technical analysts who are brought on to provide informed technical analysis for a subject that you, I, and the news anchor don’t have. The rest should be marched off a plank into the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean never to be seen again.

Best New Show:

Andrew Kirell: The Lead, CNN
Evan McMurry: All In, MSNBC
Noah Rothman: The Lead, CNN
Tommy Christopher: All In, MSNBC
Matt Wilstein: Parts Unknown, CNN
Josh Feldman: The Lead, CNN

Worst New Show:

Andrew Kirell: Crossfire, CNN
Evan McMurry: MediaBuzz, Fox
Noah Rothman: (Get To) The Point, , CNN
Tommy Christopher: Up Late, MSNBC
Matt Wilstein: New Day, CNN
Josh Feldman: (Get To) The Point, CNN

I’m not feeling too strongly about any of the new shows in the Best category but if pressed I’d probably go with The Lead because I like Tapper so much. As for the Worst, as much as I hate Crossfire and everything it portends for CNN there was only one real train wreck in 2013. But it’s not a new train wreck. It’s an old train wreck that’s been coming back every year on CNN. And it will come around again in a little over a week and a half. Can you guess what show that is? It’s not difficult.

Best Cable News Hire:

Andrew Kirell: Jake Tapper, CNN
Evan McMurry: Irin Carmon, MSNBC
Noah Rothman: George Will, Fox
Tommy Christopher: Jake Tapper, CNN
Matt Wilstein: Brian Stelter, CNN
Josh Feldman: Jake Tapper, CNN

Worst TV Hire:

Andrew Kirell: Newt Gingrich, CNN
Evan McMurry: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Fox
Noah Rothman: Alec Baldwin, MSNBC
Tommy Christopher: Newt Gingrich, CNN
Matt Wilstein: Herman Cain, Fox
Josh Feldman: Alec Baldwin, MSNBC

Again, what’s with the category conflation? Anyways my Best hire would go to Tapper easy. Worst? That’s a little more problematic. Baldwin would probably get the nod but not so much because he was a bad hire but because his show was so awful. However part of me is hedging because I’m wondering if next year I’ll be looking back on this year wanting to scratch out Baldwin’s name and replace it with Ronan Farrow’s.

Worst Cable News Low Point:

Andrew Kirell: Selfie-Gate/Santa-Gate/Handshake-Gate in same week
Evan McMurry: Obama rodeo clown
Noah Rothman: Reaction to gun control bill failure
Tommy Christopher: Joe Scarborough slanders people with autism again
Matt Wilstein: CNN’s poop ship coverage
Josh Feldman: O’Donnell’s trainwreck interview with Weiner

Much as I’d like to go with the CNN cruise ship debacle or the sensational court TV coverage on CNN and HLN, my cable news low point was Jeff Zucker publicly broadening the definition of news and what it’s doing to CNN’s news brand and newscasts.

Best Cable/Network News Moment:

Andrew Kirell: Megyn Kelly destroys Erickson/Dobbs
Evan McMurry: Greenwald tells Gregory ‘you’re criminalizing journalism’
Noah Rothman: Greta shutting down Martin family attorney’s claims
Tommy Christopher: Megyn Kelly’s “White Santa”
Matt Wilstein: Russell Brand hijacks Morning Joe
Josh Feldman: Piers Morgan just sitting there letting Alex Jones rant

My Best moment: Al Jazeera America’s launch. The ratings have been miniscule…the carriage isn’t where it needs to be. But if you want news, it’s the place to go as CNN continues to “broaden the definition of news” and do less and less real news.

Power Play

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on December 11, 2013 by icn2

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Rodney Ho has an interesting item on The Weather Channel…

The Weather Channel, headquartered in Cobb County for 17 years, has been in talks with the county seeking tax breaks to stay.

Would Comcast really move The Weather Channel?

July Numbers: HLN…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 30, 2013 by icn2

HLN is noting its July ratings…

HLN SCORES DOUBLE AND TRIPLE DIGIT GAINS IN PRIME IN JULY 2013

Network Bests MSNBC In Total Day

HLNtv.com Breaks All-Time Record

HLN continues its ratings momentum, marking five months of consecutive year-over-year growth in prime and total day in both total viewers and P25-54. In M-F prime, the network posted the biggest P25-54 and P2+ viewership gains among all cable news networks and bested MSNBC by +5% in the key demo (197k vs. 188k). In Total Day, HLN was also ahead of MSNBC among P25-54 by +15% (159k vs. 138k), marking the fifth consecutive month HLN outperformed/tied MSNBC.

July 2013 vs. July 2012

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July Numbers: CNN…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 30, 2013 by icn2

CNN is noting its July ratings…

CNN PLACES SECOND IN TOTAL DAY AND PRIMETIME IN JULY; TOPS MSNBC FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE MONTH

CNN HAS DOUBLE DIGIT GROWTH VS. A YEAR AGO; FXNC AND MSNBC LOSE VIEWERS IN JULY

New Day Outperforms MSNBC’s Morning Joe 4 of the past 6 Weeks in Demo 25-54 Rating and Narrows the Gap Significantly

The Lead with Jake Tapper is #1 in Cable News in Demo 25-54 Rating

CNN.com domestic site has highest July on record for page views and video starts; U.S. mobile web posted the highest month ever for video starts

Buoyed by coverage of the crisis in Egypt, the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 and the trial of George Zimmerman, CNN’s ratings momentum continued in July with the network finishing a strong second in all key categories including Total Day, M-Sun Primetime, M-F Primetime and Daytime in both total viewers and 25-54 demo rating. For the third consecutive month, CNN had more viewers than MSNBC and for the third time in four months, CNN dominated MSNBC in the key demo 25-54 rating (MSNBC placed fourth). July represents CNN’s second best demo 25-54 rating performance this year (since Boston bombings in April, 2013).

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Zimmerman Verdict: Your Reactions…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 13, 2013 by icn2

Post your reactions to the coverage of the Zimmerman verdict here…

Megyn Kelly to FNC Primetime…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 2, 2013 by icn2

FNC announced that  Megyn Kelly is prime time bound after her maternity leave. What makes this release a head scratcher is the network also announced that it had long term deals in place with O’Reilly, Hannity, and Van Susteren which begs the question…where in primetime Kelly goes and just what is meant by the term “long term deal”?

Megyn Kelly to Move to Primetime on FOX News Channel

Bret Baier, Shepard Smith, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren Signed to Long-Term Contracts

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 02, 2013–Megyn Kelly will move to FOX News Channel’s (FNC) primetime lineup upon her return from maternity leave, announced Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO, FOX News. Additionally, the network has signed long-term deals with Bret Baier, Shepard Smith, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren. A new schedule will be announced at a later date.

In making the announcement, Ailes said, “Megyn is an exceptional talent who has successfully filled and surpassed each role we have given her at the network. Her ability to command the screen, delve into the facts and lead a debate is what makes her one of the most sought-after anchors in the business.”

Kelly added, “Roger Ailes hired me nine years ago when I was new to this business and he had little other than instinct to suggest it might work out. I was grateful to him then, remain so today, and am excited for this next opportunity.”

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Free for All: 06/14/13

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 14, 2013 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

Press Releases: 05/24/13

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on May 24, 2013 by icn2

BBC (1)

BBC HARDtalk special from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with US Secretary of State John Kerry

New York, 24 May 2012— This Sunday 26 May the BBC’s HARDtalk programme is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a special show with the US Secretary of State John Kerry. The programme will be hosted by Zeinab Badawi and will feature questions posed by an audience of young people from across the continent direct to Mr Kerry. The Secretary of State will also take questions on Africa and US foreign policy sent in by BBC viewers and listeners from around the world. This special event marks 50 years of the African Union.

BBC audiences around the world will also be able to take part in the event, by emailing questions to hardtalk@bbc.co.uk or posting them on twitter using: #hardtalk or #youthconnect.

This HARDtalk special will broadcast on BBC World News on Tuesday 28 May 2013 and on BBC World Service radio on Wednesday 29 May.

Deborah Turness Named President of NBC News…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on May 20, 2013 by icn2

NBC made it official this morning and announced the hiring of Deborah Turness as the President of NBC News…

NEW YORK — May 20, 2013 — Deborah Turness, former editor of ITV News, the United Kingdom’s most-watched commercial network news service, has been named President of NBC News. It was announced today by Pat Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group.

Turness joins CNBC President Mark Hoffman and MSNBC President Phil Griffin as part of the NBCUniversal News Group leadership team reporting to Fili-Krushel. She will be based at the NBC News headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and begin her new role on August 5.

As President, Turness will be responsible for all aspects of the NBC News division including the programs “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today,” “Meet the Press,” and “Dateline” as well as its news bureaus around the world. She will also oversee all breaking news, investigative and enterprise reporting, along with the division’s digital properties including NBCNews.com. Additionally, she will have oversight of Peacock Productions, an award-winning in-house production company.

“Deborah has built an outstanding reputation as both a journalist and business executive with a proven track record for innovation and collaboration,” said Fili-Krushel. “She is a leader with a global perspective, who is also very familiar with NBC News, having worked closely with us through our partnership with ITN. Her passion for the news business, combined with her creativity and vision, will be a tremendous asset to NBC News, and I’m very pleased to welcome her to the team.”

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CNN’s New “New Day” Promos…

Posted in CNN, Miscellaneous Subjects on May 13, 2013 by icn2

Newscast Studio has CNN’s new “New Day” promo…

The Ubiquity of Sleeveless…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on April 29, 2013 by icn2

Libby Copeland writes in Slate about sleeveless-mania…

There’s a reason why the women of TV news have embraced sleevelessness while treading carefully in matters like cleavage (sexy weather reporters aside). Bare arms read as a kind of smart-sexy, a look that women in positions of authority can pull off. Michelle Obama is responsible for this, as are socialites of the Manhattan cocktail circuit, for whom bare arms long ago became a currency of wealth and fitness. MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski and Chris Jansing are fans of the look, as is CBS’s Gayle King, and CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. Fit arms are about control, a state of poised strength you work at—so much so that supermarket magazines have accused Madonna and Angelina Jolie of pushing their exercise regimes too far, featuring their ropy, veiny biceps right next to close-ups of some other unfortunate’s cellulite. But if cellulite and cleavage can read as sloppy, toned arms are the very opposite; they’re all about intention and control. Which is why newswomen get to show them off. They are appropriate for early risers and Ivy League overachievers—the sexiness of success rather than vulnerability.

And yet. It’s telling that we now expect sexy at all from our TV newswomen. We haven’t always. Beauty, sure. When Diane Sawyer appeared in the ’80s in an off-the-shoulder evening dress on the cover of Vanity Fair, the decision caused such a stir that she was moved to remind a reporter that “there were no tassels involved.” But if you look back at images of newswomen from the ’80s and ’90s, they were notable for what they didn’t show. When MSNBC launched in 1996, Couric covered everything but her face, wearing a turtleneck under her beige blazer for the virgin broadcast. And women who’ve been on the air for decades tend not to go bare, either because they think it inappropriate to do so at their age or because they were schooled at a time when TV reporters didn’t do such things. In either case, clothing confers dignity. You can’t imagine Christiane Amanpour leveraging her erotic capital on the air.

It does, after all, matter when female voices of authority disrobe. Baring one’s skin, whether it’s décolletage or arms, remains an indicator of seriousness—are you going to look at me, or are you going to listen to what I’m saying? Because, as the Washington Post pointed out last year in a story about the blazer disappearing from newswomen’s wardrobes, male viewers appear unable to do both. A 2010 study found that the sexier the female anchor, the less men retain of what she says. They literally see instead of hear her. Rachel Maddow has said this is why she maintains a “conveyor belt of gray blazers,” in order to look the same for every broadcast.

“Don’t focus on what I’m wearing,” Maddow says. “Focus on what’s coming out of my face.” Continue reading

This Just In…Cable News Has A Breaking News Problem…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on April 25, 2013 by icn2

Buzfeed’s Dorsey Shaw compiles a devastating summary of the lengths Anderson Cooper 360 goes to drag out Breaking News as “Breaking News”. The problem here is this isn’t just a problem for 360. It’s a cable news wide problem; though it manifests itself in different ways on each channel.

The bottom line: Cable News hypes breaking news as breaking news long past the point it broke.

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