The BizBeat – November 3, 2016

Each Thursday, MediaFile’s Business section publishes The BizBeat, an overview of the past week’s news in media organizations and industry. Have a tip, see something we missed, or want to put something on our radar? E-mail

Making Headlines

  • Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, will no longer go through with its highly-anticipated acquisition of Tronc,  who publishes The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times. While a deal between the two companies was agreed upon in mid-September, Gannett recently informed Tronc that its financing was experiencing “an unexpected delay” and some re-negotiated terms of the deal were simply “not acceptable.” The announcement had an immediate impact on stock prices; Tronc shares dipped a maximum of 27 percent to $8.76 the day after the announcement, and Ganett shares fell 2 percent on the same day.
  • This week, it was announced that Donna Brazile, current acting chair of the DNC, has resigned from her role as a CNN contributor. The resignation comes after Wikileaks published more hacked e-mails that suggested Brazile tipped off Hillary Clinton’s campaign about a potential questions in advance of a Democratic primary debate hosted by CNN in March. The blowback has been immense; a statement from CNN says the company is “completely uncomfortable” with the revelation, and CNN President Jeff Zucker called the leaks “unethical” and “disgusting.” Brazile has been an open Hillary Clinton supporter, and suspended her contract with CNN in July after being named interim chair of the DNC.

  • Last Thursday, Twitter announced it was shutting down its popular subsidiary social video app, Vine. Most are attributing the shutdown to Twitter’s recent business decline, in which it has been unable to find a buyer, has announced layoffs of 8 percent of employees, and stalled in user growth.While the app was only alive for a few short years, it has been hailed as a cultural epicenter, especially for minority communities. According to Twitter’s official statement, nothing will be happening to the content on the site, and users will have the option to download their videos prior to the close.

Getting Down to Business

  • The Department of Justice has sued telecommunications giant AT&T over its subsidiary DirecTV’s refusal to carry SportsNet LA, a channel devoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The lawsuit claims that DirecTV colluded with other cable companies, including Charter, Cox, to ensure that they would not also carry the channel, which was being sold by Time Warner Cable. The complaint claims that this tactic was used by these competitors to force Time Warner Cable into complying with the other companies’ terms when buying the channel. However, AT&T has claimed that the move occurred prior to its purchase of DirecTV, and was not a bargaining trick, but rather a choice based on cost.
  • Yahoo has updated its transparency report for the first time after Reuters released a massive report claiming that the internet company had scanned users’ incoming e-mails in response to a request from the U.S. government. Yahoo has vehemently denied involvement in any such program, even going as far as sending a public letter to the Director of National Intelligence requesting further transparency on the matter. The latest version of Yahoo’s transparency report includes updates to statistics on the numbers of government requests Yahoo has processed as well as its anonymity measures in those requests. Yahoo claims that this update “continues the fight” for government transparency, a matter the company has “long advocated and fought for.”

On the Radar

  • The Rolling Stone vs. Nicole Eramo case has continued in court this week, including what The Hollywood Reporter is calling a “victory” in the defamation trial. On Monday, U.S. District Court judge Glen Conrad determined that Rolling Stone’s motion for “judgment as a matter of law” regarding Eramo’s allegations that she was “defamed by implication” by the notorious “A Rape on Campus” piece. But, the fight isn’t over – the judge will still put the case of whether or not statements in the piece were materially false that damaged reputation to a jury for deliberation. While Eramo rested her case last Friday, Rolling Stone will now have the opportunity to argue its case for the jury.
  • Megyn Kelly has become the “most coveted anchor on television” according to an exclusive report by Vanity Fair, that reveals that Fox News has offered Kelly over $20 million dollars to stay with the channel after her contract expires next summer. The bid comes amidst a number of outlets vying for Kelly, including Disney/ABC Television and CNN. While the price tag reveals how Kelly has used her election-year ascent to stardom in her favor, it has also scared away some other pursuers. “I don’t believe anyone is pursuing her other than Fox at this point,” said an ABC insider.


  • In a staffing shuffle, entertainment conglomerate Viacom has named Robert Bakish as its next acting president and CEO, placing him in a pivotal role as the company considers a merger with CBS Corp.  Bakish has worked at Viacom since 1997, and is known for his work in expanding the company’s operations overseas. The appointment comes after former COO and current interim president Tom Dooley declined to be permanent CEO after the ousting of former famed CEO Philippe Dauman. Dooley’s official exit date, and Bakish’s start date in the role, will be November 15, 2016.


  • Tim Carry, Distribution Chief at Fox News, is stepping down per an exclusive report from Variety. Carry has been involved with every carriage deal for Fox News Channel and Fox Business Channel since each channel’s launch in 1997 and 2007, respectively. Carry’s departure could signal a shift in how Fox’s distribution is handled, including negotiations with other Fox-owned networks like FX, Fox Sports, and FXM. Carry has worked for the company for over 20 years, and worked for NBC Cable prior to coming to Fox.
  • Michael Golden, Vice Chairman of The New York Times Co., will retire at the end of the year. Golden is a fourth generation member of the Ochs/Sulzberger family that has for long controlled the times, and Golden himself has worked at the company for 32 years. Though Golden will step down from a management role in which he oversaw international operations and communications, he will remain on the board of the company.

Taking Stock

The following stocks are for companies that were in media news, influencing media news, or affected by media news in the past week. Indicated changes identify noteworthy variations in price from the previous week’s report.

  • Gannett Co., Inc. (GCI): $7.55
  • Tronc, Inc. (TRNC): $9.61
  • Viacom, Inc. (VIA): $40.20
  • Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO): $40.68
  • AT&T Inc. (T): $36.37
  • Time Warner Inc. (TWX): $87.28

In Other News

  • On Wednesday, Business Insider reported that its site was hacked by a group identifying itself as “OurMine.” The group published a post on the site to show the level of their access, and also sent a push notification to users of the Business Insider app. The source? Business Insider believes it may have been an employee with publishing privileges who used the same password for multiple accounts.


  • For $250, you can spend election night with The New York Times. The Times will be hosting Election Night Live, an event that, for $250, will allow audiences to hear election analysis from Times experts and reporters as the votes come in. The event is the latest installment of the company’s nytLive series, and as Neiman Lab notes, there will be booze.

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