Archive for the Miscellaneous Subjects Category

Holy Devaluation Batman!

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 23, 2015 by icn2

An investor group led by NBC Universal and two private equity firms clinched a deal for the Weather Channel on Sunday after three weeks of negotiations.

Though the parties did not disclose the price, the buyers, NBC and the private equity firms Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group, will pay just under $3.5 billion, people briefed on the matter said.

– The New York Times’ Michael J. de la Merced in 2008

Comcast Corp, in a quarterly regulatory filing on Thursday, said it took a $252 million impairment charge related to the goodwill on its investment in the Weather Channel. As of June 30, Comcast valued its stake in the Weather Channel at only $86 million, down from $335 million at the end of last year.

– The Wall St Journal’s Shalini Ramachandran today.

Brian Williams ISN’T Getting a Two Hour Show?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on July 23, 2015 by icn2

In a must read that apparently wasn’t read by very many media writers, The Wrap’s Jordan Chariton buries his lede

At the town hall, executives also filled in staffers on Brian Williams’ return, telling them he doesn’t want his own show at the network, most likely a decision aimed at rebuilding his credibility as a reporter.

This is the only contradictory information out there that Williams may not get the soon to be open 3-5 block on MSNBC. So what’s it going to be: Williams gets a show or Williams doesn’t get a show? I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

NewsMax’s Daily Wrap: The Anti-Politics Rountable Politics Roundtable Show

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 14, 2015 by icn2

There’s a show out there on NewsMax TV called the Daily Wrap. You may have read about it recently since reviews of the show have been popping up all over the internet. I’m going to venture a guess that many of those reviews were spurned on the same way this one was; from an email appeal from host Joe Concha. First time I’m reviewing something because someone on the show asked me to. But I had already considered doing one before Concha’s email showed up in my in box because something about that show made me want to come back and see it again. But if this review goes south Concha knows he has himself to blame. Be careful what you wish for…

I suppose the Daily Wrap needs all the publicity it can get. I’ll lay odds that this show has gotten more internet attention in the form of these reviews the past few weeks than NewsMax TV has gotten in the entirety of its existence. That’s probably not an exaggeration either. Hell, I didn’t even know about NewsMax TV showing up on DirecTV until I caught an ad for it on another channel and that’s where I found the Daily Wrap which my program guide said was hosted by Joe Concha. So I just had to go watch it. Mediaite first made mention of the show…weeks after I discovered it (which I thought a little strange since the host of the show writes a lot for the site so why the huge delay Kirell?)

Unlike Carpe Diem’s claims in its review of the show…the show is in HD (Diem’s feed may be an SD version though). However DirecTV has squeezed the HD picture horizontally to fit in an SD space. That is beyond fugly as everyone looks like a potential Top 3 NBA pick. Someone needs to fix that ASAP.

NewsMax TV is essentially a shoestring operation at this point. Worse than MSNBC and FNC when they launched. Probably on par with Current when it snagged Olbermann. Maybe a little worse.

The Daily Wrap is a victim of this and the Mexican jumping bean like decision making of its owner Chris Ruddy. When Mediaite made mention of the show, it had just been given a 10pm repeat. A few weeks later…POOF!…said repeat was replaced with non-sequitur crapola about Nazi Germany. Way to go Ruddy! If NewsMax TV or The Daily Wrap eventually ends up imploding I have no doubt Ruddy will have inadvertently had a hand in their demise.

The show manages to fight past all this though, sorta like the post Nuclear Apocalypse cockroach. Despite the now you see it, now you don’t programming, despite the slightly better than 1990’s era Local Cable Public Access TV production values…there is something there. What it is, I’m just not sure yet.

Let’s be clear here. I am not a fan of talking head politics/watercooler programming. That format has been done to death. It is everywhere…and it’s still flourishing. But there is something that separates The Daily Wrap from the other shows. Actually it’s probably a combination of things; some deliberate, some just a result of circumstances.

There isn’t a “name” on The Daily Wrap but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a star in the making. However that star isn’t Concha. Concha acquits himself fine as a host but he gets eclipsed every time Rick Ungar opens his mouth. Ungar was a blank slate for me but after several viewings I still couldn’t make out which side of the political spectrum he fell on. Tonight I looked it up. He doesn’t talk like a Maddow or an Olbermann or a Matthews or (worse of the worst) an Eleanor Clift. His voice is unique on cable news; authoritative without being condescending (most of the time). Factual (well as factual as a POV pundit can be anyways) without being argumentative.

There is a chemistry there between Ungar and Concha. It seems to be perpetually teetering on the verge of falling into that dreaded world of “inside the ballpark” politics where the average viewer has references and asides shoot right over their head. This may be partially a result of the shoestring which NewsMax TV operates with. A tighter production system might do more to pull back the show from that precipice. Then again, if it were to pull back, might some of the other positive aspects of this Anti-Political Rountable Political Roundtable format die in the process? It’s a tricky proposition.

Besides Ungar and Concha, there’s a revolving door of third and (later in the show) fourth panelists. One could classify most of these people as D-list panelists…people I’ve not seen much, if not anything, of on cable news before. This actually works in the show’s favor most of the time because we aren’t getting the usual suspects that we see all the time on CNN, MSNBC, and FNC. It is a breath of fresh air for a format desperately needing one.

One thing that a tighter production system might do is streamline the show. In my opinion the show tackles too many subjects. I’ve seen segments get cut off well before they should have run their proper course, all in the name of either time (which is understandable) or in the name of getting to the next subject (which is far less understandable).

And then there are the throwaway subjects; usually of the tabloid fodder/watercooler variety. When the show steers into that territory, more times than not I start looking longingly at my remote. Stick to the politics and world affairs. There’s plenty of worthy subjects there to cover which don’t get enough coverage on the headline obsessed red/blue politics driven gabfests on the other networks.

The Daily Wrap still is not really my cup of tea but it’s better than most of the all too predictable roundtable shows currently available on cable news. It seems to be making a genuine attempt at programming agendaless TV. I can’t say the same for most of The Daily Wrap’s competition.

NewsMax TV could very well have a hit show on its hands. Eventually. If people can find it. If the focus tightens a bit and they add another permanent panelist. And if they can keep Ruddy’s fingers off the controls long enough. I’m not holding my breath on that last one.

Long Long Knives…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 12, 2015 by icn2

Vanity Fair’s Bryan Burrough writes about Brian Williams’ future…or lack therof…

Some executives at competing networks believe Williams will take whatever NBC offers because he has few other options. “The other networks won’t take him, I actually don’t think CNN wants him—I mean, the guy is damaged goods,’’ says one. One conceivable home would be Fox News, whose C.E.O., Roger Ailes, has defended Williams since his suspension. But it’s far from clear that Williams would embrace Fox’s right-wing slant. Other executives suggest Williams, like his onetime NBC colleagues Katie Couric and David Gregory, could find a home at Yahoo or some other Internet outlet. But those who have known Williams the longest strongly doubt he would accept such a comedown.

From the beginning, many have thought the most natural spot for Williams to land is on his own talk show, whether at NBC or some other network. A talk show, even one at a ratings laggard like MSNBC, plays to his strengths as a raconteur and a personality and is even an option that Williams has long considered—it was his desire to break from the hard-news mold, after all, that motivated his failed attempts at persuading CBS chief Les Moonves to let him replace David Letterman and NBCUniversal president Steve Burke to give him Jay Leno’s job. That Williams is viewed inside NBC as a poor interviewer wouldn’t matter, and in one fell swoop it would wash away the credibility questions. No one worried about whether Larry King or Howard Stern had credibility. They watched because they were entertaining. And for all his sins, there’s no denying that Williams could still be one heck of an entertainer.

Free for All: 06/12/15

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 12, 2015 by icn2

What’s on your mind?

The NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt…

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on June 8, 2015 by icn2

CNN’s Brian Stelter writes about Lester Holt very likely becoming the new permanent anchor of Nightly News…

His assignment was originally supposed to last six months — the amount of time Brian Williams was suspended after ten years at the helm of “Nightly.”

But Williams is unlikely to return to the anchor chair when his suspension is up. Negotiations between NBC executives and Williams’ attorney are focused on two potential paths: a new role for Williams, or an exit from the network.

Either path leaves Holt in the anchor chair — unless NBC surprises everyone and risks destabilizing the show by appointing a new anchor. (Calling that scenario exceedingly unlikely is an understatement.)

So Holt, through the worst of circumstances, is stepping up to one of the best jobs in television journalism.

But will NBC really commit to Holt by naming him Managing Editor?

NBC’s Attempt To Keep Brian Williams Around?

Posted in Miscellaneous Subjects on May 31, 2015 by icn2

CNN’s Brian Stelter writes that NBC is looking for a way to keep Brian Williams around…maybe.

Weeks of complex negotiations between Williams and NBC are not yet complete, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

There are any number of possible outcomes. Several of the sources said Williams could end up leaving NBC altogether following a financial settlement.

But another possibility, and the one advanced in recent discussions, involves a new role for Williams.
Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, has been a proponent of this outcome.

“Andy’s contorting to figure out a way to keep Brian,” one of the sources said.

A fool’s errand. Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein explains why

Whatever role he would accept at NBC News, he would likely want to be involved with the kind of substantive stories that he trafficked in at the anchor desk, and those stories will require he restore his reputation–so the network doesn’t really solve its problems by finding Williams another perch outside the anchor desk.

Lack could also opt to create a new “special correspondent” role for Williams to tackle big stories for various NBC News outlets beyond “Nightly News.” But Williams might want to give Ann Curry a call before accepting such an assignment. After her awkward ouster from “Today,” Curry was awarded a similar consolation prize and proceeded to spend the next few years floating like a ghost around the news division doing nothing of note. Having exited NBC in January, Curry clearly made the wrong career choice, letting the brand equity she built up at “Today” dissipate when she would have been better served jumping ship while still a known quantity.

Maybe Lack will figure out a more defined role for Williams so that he avoids Curry’s fate, but does it really matter where exactly he ends up? Whether Williams is an anchor or not, or on NBC or some other network, his credibility problem will be waiting for him.

Indeed. Anything short of Williams extraction from the news division is going to cause all kinds of optics problems both for NBC News and Williams. The one possibility would be in NBC Entertainment where Williams credibility (or lack thereof) should not be much of an issue.

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