Oct 23, 2016
8:56 pm

Must Read No. 1: Making Sense of AT&T’s $85 Billion Bid for Time Warner (NY Times)

Jeffrey Bewkes, now the chief executive of Time Warner, “once described his company’s colossal failure of a merger with AOL” this way: “You had a lot of people saying you should’ve combined a donkey with a rabbit and gotten a flying unicorn.” So writes Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times. At the time Bewkes was running Time Warner’s HBO unit.

So why did Bewkes and his board, over the weekend, approve an $85 billion bid from AT&T?

Writes Sorkin, “The worry among consumer groups and rivals, of course, is that for AT&T to make the deal work strategically and financially — the company is paying a 35 percent premium to Time Warner’s stock price before news of the deal broke last week — it is going to use Time Warner’s content as a weapon against its rivals by raising the price that they pay for carriage of channels such as HBO and CNN, while integrating those same channels into new AT&T offerings at lower prices.

‘Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, dismissed that notion in an interview on Sunday, calling it ‘illogical’ and saying he wants to ‘dispel’ such an idea. He insisted he has no intention to limit Time Warner’s content on rival systems and that ‘it doesn’t make business sense’ to restrict the distribution of Time Warner programming.”

To read more details about this story, including why AT&T thinks the deal does make sense, please click here, which will take you to Sorkin’s article.





Oct 23, 2016
8:45 pm

Another Must Read: Will the Ghost of AOL Haunt the Time Warner-AT&T deal? Culture Clash Too? (Recode)

Writes Recodes’s Kara Swisher: “You could write books on what went wrong [with AOL’s merger with Time Warner in 2000] — and I did — which raises the question of what Time Warner now thinks will go right in the deal it just struck with telecom giant AT&T to be taken out for $85 billion.”

Over the weekend Swisher asked Steve Case, who ran AOL back in 2000, what he thinks of the just announced AT&T deal.

Here, says Swisher, was Case’s full email response:

“While back in 2000, some didn’t believe in the internet and/or didn’t believe in convergence, of course those concepts now seem obvious. So it’s not surprising to me that we are again seeing attempts to marry communications and content. I just hope the merged company will have the kind of culture that will enable it to drive synergies and create value.

“As I explained in ‘The Third Wave’, and as we discussed on your podcast, the idea of the AOL/Time Warner merger made sense, both strategically and, at least for AOL, financially. What was flawed was the execution. But, as Thomas Edison said more than a century ago, vision without execution is hallucination. And execution is all about the right people focused on the right priorities, working together in the right way.

“Maybe I should send a copy of my book to the boards and senior teams at both companies?”

Thus despite possible regulatory hurdles, one wonders, in the words of the late great Yogi Berra, if the disparate cultures of AT&T and the Time Warner companies won’t lead to “Dejà vu all over again.”

We recommend you read all of Swisher’s column, which you can find if you click here.



Oct 23, 2016
8:30 pm

Must Read No. 3: Here’s the Argument Explaining Why It Makes No Sense for AT&T (or Even Apple, For that Matter) to Own Time Warner (Recode)

“Too bad the [$85 billion AT&T/Time Warner] deal doesn’t make much sense,” writes Edmund Lee on the Recode website.

He continues, “Here’s why: A company that owns pipes, whether over the air or through the ground, doesn’t actually benefit from owning the content flowing through those pipes.

“Time Warner, which owns HBO, CNN, Warner Bros. and a lot of sports rights via Turner, loses its value if it can’t sell its content to every possible distributor, including AT&T’s main rivals, such as Comcast and Verizon.”

While, in a nutshell, that’s Lee’s argument, we urge you to click here, which will take you to his original article, where you can read all the details of his thesis.



Oct 21, 2016
2:47 pm

Massive Cyber-Attack Hits Major Websites (USA Today, TVWeek)

Websites including Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Spotify, Tumblr and Reddit were hit with a massive cyber-attack today, with USA Today reporting that the attack was coming in “multiple waves.”

The attack made it impossible at times for users on the East Coast to access many sites.

“The cause was a large-scale distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against New Hampshire-based Internet performance company Dyn,” USA Today reports. “The attacks made it difficult for users to access many popular sites beginning at 7:10 a.m. ET and continued throughout the day.”

Kyle York, Dyn’s chief strategy officer, talked about the attack this afternoon on a conference call with reporters, saying: “It’s a very smart attack. We start to mitigate, they react. It keeps on happening every time. We’re learning, though.”

USA Today adds: “The attacks used Mirai, an easy-to-use program that allows even unskilled hackers to take over online devices and use them to launch distributed denial of service, or DDoS attacks. Malware from phishing emails can infect a computer or home network, then spread to everything on it, taking over DVRs, cable set-top boxes, routers and even Internet-connected cameras used by stores and businesses for surveillance.”

Other sites that have been impacted by the attack, according to media reports, include HBO Now, news sites such as the BBC, CNN and The New York Times, Yelp, Pinterest, NHL.com, GitHub, Paypal and Soundcloud.

Oct 21, 2016
2:07 pm

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Roast Each Other at the Annual Al Smith Dinner — Here’s the Video (Fox 10 Phoenix)

The two major party presidential candidates traded in their usual stump speeches for comedy material at the annual Al Smith Dinner, seizing on the opportunity to take broad swipes at each other — including occasionally going too far, according to some observers.

Here’s what Clinton had to say …

And Trump’s speech …

Oct 21, 2016
2:01 pm

‘House of Cards’ Adds Two Key Players (THR, TVWeek)

Two familiar Hollywood faces are joining the cast of the Netflix drama “House of Cards.” In an exclusive, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Patricia Clarkson and Campbell Scott will have major roles in the upcoming fifth season.

Clarkson is known for a string of roles in feature films including “The Green Mile” and ‘Far From Heaven,” and received an Oscar nomination in 2004 for “Pieces of April.” She won two Emmys for her work on “Six Feet Under.”

Scott has chalked up a long list of credits both in film and on TV, including work on “Royal Pains” and “Damages.”

“Details of their roles are being kept under wraps, though both will be featured heavily in the new season,” THR notes.

house of cards-netflix

Oct 21, 2016
1:21 pm

A&E Delays Series Launch (TVWeek)

A&E announced today that it has pushed back the premiere date for an upcoming series. The docuseries “The Killing Season” will now premiere Nov. 12, one week later than previously announced.

The series, which examines the unsolved Long Island Serial Killer case and other crimes, will bow with back-to-back episodes. The cable net did not give a reason for the date change.

Executive produced by Alex Gibney, the series “follows documentarians Joshua Zeman (‘Cropsey’) and Rachel Mills as they investigate one of the most bizarre unsolved serial killer cases of our time — ten dead sex workers discovered on Gilgo Beach, Long Island,” the network notes in its announcement. “Authorities believe these killings are the work of the Long Island Serial Killer, who after five years remains at large. Forging relationships with cyber-sleuths, journalists and victims’ families, Zeman and Mills uncover connections that suggest Long Island is just the beginning.”


Oct 21, 2016
12:57 pm

Cable Drama Series Canceled (Deadline)

A cable drama series has been canceled, with the show’s recent season finale to stand as the last episode for the series. In an exclusive, Deadline.com reports that Freeform pulled the plug on the mystery thriller “Guilt.”

The show, which starred Daisy Head, Emily Tremaine, Cristian Solimeno and Naomi Ryan, wrapped its 10-episode freshman in August. The series premiered to just under a half-million viewers on June 13, and the numbers went down from there, settling around the 300,000 mark.

“While the August 22 Season 1 finale revealed who the killer was, it set up several new cliffhangers, including who shot Prince Theo and will he survive,” Deadline notes.

The program was created and executive produced by Kathryn Price and Nichole Millard, with Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer as executive producers and showrunners. Stephen McPherson also executive produced.


Oct 21, 2016
12:44 pm

‘Live With Kelly’ Names Winner of Viewer Co-Host Search (TVWeek, ABC)

The “Live with Kelly and You” co-host search contest is over, with the morning show “Live with Kelly” revealing today on the air that the winner of the viewer contest is Richard Curtis.

Curtis, a high school teacher from Perkasie, Pa., joined Kelly Ripa as the co-host of today’s show.

“The big reveal was made this morning when he walked out hand-in-hand with Kelly Ripa to co-host the show,” the program announced in a press release today. “Curtis was a co-hosting natural, from shooting the breeze with Ripa during the opening ‘Host Chat’ segment, to interviewing actors Elijah Wood and Sullivan Stapleton, to ‘meeting’ America’s Biggest Pumpkin.”

The release notes that “Live” received thousands of entries in the search contest, adding that “Curtis’ creative video submission and written pitch, in which he described himself as ‘positively positive’ and a ‘motivational madman,’ stood out. After making it to the top five, he competed on-air all week long for his chance at snagging the coveted co-host spot for the day.”

Meanwhile, the permanent co-hosting position remains open, and the show continues to bring a rotating lineup of guest hosts on board.

102116-kelly-ripa-richard-curtis-live-with-kelly-abcKelly Ripa and Richard Curtis on this morning’s “Live with Kelly”

Oct 21, 2016
12:27 pm

Time Warner-AT&T Merger Talks Heat Up (WSJ)

The rumored Time Warner-AT&T merger is suddenly on the fast track, with a deal possible as soon as this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“AT&T Inc. is in advanced talks to acquire Time Warner Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would create a new hallmark in the rapidly converging realms of media, communications and the Internet,” WSJ reports. “A deal, which could happen as early as this weekend, would unite AT&T’s portfolio of wireless, broadband and satellite TV services with Time Warner’s entertainment empire, which includes cable networks such as TNT, TBS, CNN, the coveted premium channel HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio.”

The talks have come together quickly, the report notes, and a deal could still fall apart or be delayed.

“Time Warner shares rose 6.7% to $90.94 in early-afternoon trading after The Wall Street Journal reported the advanced talks, while AT&T fell 2.6% to $37.65,” WSJ notes.

The report adds: “A merger of the companies would be the most ambitious marriage of content and distribution in the media and telecom industries since Comcast Corp.’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal and would create a behemoth to rival that cable giant. A transaction would be far and away the biggest media deal of recent years. Time Warner has a market capitalization of $71 billion, while AT&T’s was $231.7 billion.”

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