The BizBeat – October 27, 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 Shiplett@Mediafiledc.com.

Making Headlines

  • In perhaps the biggest media business merger of the year, AT&T announced Saturday that it has reached a deal to buy Time Warner Inc. for $85.4 billion. The merger would couple AT&T’s deep subscriber and user base with Timer Warner’s numerous media ventures, which include networks like CNN, TNT, HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio. With announcement of the mega-merger also came a variety of concerns; not only about regulation and antitrust law, but also about how journalistic outlets under the new combined company would be affected. While the possible effects of the merger on consumers are varied, Wall Street has already spoken. As the deal progresses, it will likely draw the close scrutiny of regulators, politicians, and those fearing further media consolidation.

  • The rumors are true: Snapchat is headed for a massive IPO. MediaFile originally reported on the social photo-sending app’s market-friendly movements last week, when analysts were estimating Snapchat’s value to be around $25 billion. Now, with reports indicating that Snapchat will aim for a $4 billion IPO early next year, the company’s value could potentially max out around $40 billion. According to research firm eMarketer, Snapchat’s global ad revenue is expected to jump 155.1 percent in the next year, which will set the company on solid footing for its public offering in early 2017.
  • One of society’s greatest fears came true when a swash of major websites went down last Friday. Users reported websites such as Netflix, Twitter, Spotify, AirBnB, Reddit, and even The New York Times’ site were unreachable during the down period in the areas indicated in the map below. Dyn, the company that controls many major sites’ domain name system (DNS) infrastructure and the victim of the ambush, says the outages were due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack beginning as early as 7 a.m. on Friday. Analysts say that the attack is the largest of its kind in history and was caused by a new weapon called the Mirai botnet. While the perpetrator has not yet been named, intelligence officials have claimed that it was not likely a state-sponsored actor.

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Getting Down to Business

  • The New York Times is buying online consumer guide The Wirecutter, Recode reports. The sale will cost the Times more than $30 million, which will include retention bonuses and other payoffs. The Wirecutter provides research and recommendations for electronics and other tech items, which is presented “simply online.” The guide also owns The Sweethome, which is a similar consumer guide for home appliances. The announcement was made via press release from The New York Times, which can be found below.

  • Two days after announcing a substantial “revamp” of its newsroom, Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker sent a memo to staff announcing that the company will be offering a “substantial number” of buyouts to its staff. The offering, Baker says, is meant to “limit the number of involuntary layoffs.” The paper faced extensive layoffs last year, and is expected to continue the trend as it attempts to consolidate sections and renew a focus on digital efforts. The buyout package will be available to employees through October 31.

On the Radar

  • Filmmakers Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Goodwin-Grayzel, as well as Goodwin-Grayzel’s cameraman, Carl Davis, were recently arrested along with activists from the group Climate Direct Action, while filming the activists disrupt Canada-U.S. oil piplelines. The journalists were charged with a number of felonies, including conspiracy and burglary, and could face extensive jail sentences if found guilty. The news of these charges come after a judge rejected riot charges against Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman, which many considered a victory for press freedom.

Arrivals

  • Former Red Sox pitcher and Donald Trump supporter Curt Schilling will be joining Breitbart, Gabe Sherman of New York Magazine reports. Schilling will host a daily online radio show that features political commentary and calls from listeners, and that will eventually include a video livestream. The show will be Schilling’s return to media after being fired from ESPN after he posted an anti-transgender Facebook status, and will showcase what Brietbart editor-in-chief Alex Marlow calls Schilling’s “talented” broadcasting. Schilling’s return to media is also said to be in preparation for a political career, as he plans to challenge Elizabeth Warren’s senate seat in 2018.

Departures

  • This week, Bloomberg reported that tech giant Twitter is planning hundreds of layoffs after failing to be sold and supposedly dismal third-quarter earnings. Twitter plans to cut 8 percent of its workforce, which totals around 300 staffers, a similar number to what was cut when now-CEO Jack Dorsey took over the company last year. Twitter has continued to be unprofitable, and after a 40 percent fall in stock price in the past year, it has been more difficult for the company to pay employees with stock options and compete with other tech giants for top talent.
  • After only a year at his post, MTV President Sean Atkins will leave the network, the Wall Street Journal reports.  Atkins’ exit will continue a trend of exiting executives in the Viacom family, but Atkins will stay at the company through January in an advisory role. Atkins will be succeeded by Chris McCarthy, who currently leads VH1 and Logo and will report to Viacom Music President Doug Herzog.

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.

  • AT&T Inc. (T): $36.43
  • Time Warner Inc. (TWX): $88.70
  • New York Times Co. (NYT): $11.40
  • Netflix, Inc. (NFLX): $126.97

In Other News

  • Not even a junk food run is safe from controversy: Donald Trump’s son Eric took a trip to fast food restaurant In-N-Out, and in the typical fashion of the 2016 election, something still went awry.
  • Monday’s New York Times printed a full two-page spread detailing all of the insults Donald Trump has slung on Twitter – about 6,000 of them, to be exact. The tally of insults also has an online home, complete with hyperlinks and references.

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