Archive for the Miscellaneous Subjects Category

More CNN Rumors…

Posted in CNN, Miscellaneous Subjects on April 25, 2014 by icn2

FTVLive is posting some gloomy rumblings out at CNN…

Zucker has claimed to the folks in Atlanta that he isn’t planning to relocate jobs from ATL to NYC, but that is exactly what is happening.

Most of the editing and producing that was done in Atlanta is now being down in CNN’s New York studios.

One insider says that to make matters worse, Zucker is not a fan of some of the company benefits, including CNN’s tuition reimbursement program. If an employee wants to go back to school the company pays half.

Some think that Zucker will get rid of that benefit soon.

I wrote this the day Zucker was hired as President of CNN Worldwide…

I would not at all be surprised to see Zucker implement some version of NBCU 2.0 across CNN Worldwide. In Zucker’s mind NBCU 2.0 was a necessary step in NBC News’ evolution that just about every NBC News executive will publicly state was a success, albeit perhaps a trying success. And with CNN’s uber redundancy, with more bureaus and news staff than any other news network in the US by far, combined with the network’s years going push of all things digital, Zucker has to be extremely tempted to have at that very low hanging fruit begging to be picked. Streamlining and eliminating redundancy cuts costs and increases the bottom line. So long as its ability to deliver quality news is not damaged, increasing the bottom line makes for a nice bullet point in the face of a sluggish ratings trend.

While what’s been going on at CNN Center would hardly resemble the all encompassing NBCU 2.0, it is clear that Zucker wants to trim costs. He’s now trimming costs by laying off people in Atlanta and hiring them cheaper in New York.

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…

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