May 25, 2015
1:42 pm

Whoa! Charter Reportedly Close to Buying Time Warner Cable. The Surprise Is That The Deal is Worth $10 Billion MORE Than Comcast Had Offered For Time Warner Cable (Bloomberg; Wall St. Journal; USA Today)

“Charter Communications Inc. is near an agreement to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for about $55.1 billion in cash and stock, according to people familiar with the matter,” reports Bloomberg.

That’s about $10 billion more than the $45.2 billion Comcast had offered to buy Time Warner Cable (TWC) for last year. Comcast ended that bid earlier this month after the Federal Communications Commission said they would oppose that deal, based on the number of total broadband customers the combined company would have.

But Charter is far smaller than Comcast – and TWC for that matter. When the Comcast-TWC deal was announced, Comcast had about 23 million total subs, and TWC about 15 million total subs, according to then-published reports. After promised sell-offs, the combined Comcast-TWC would have had about 30 million subs.

But in the current proposed deal, in total subs, Charter has 6 million to TWC’s 15 million. Charter has 4.2 million video subs; TWC has 10.8 million subs. Charter has 4.4 broadband subs; TWC has 12 million. On the phone side, Charter has 2.3 million subs and TWC has 5.6 million.

Notes the Wall St. Journal today, Charter will pay about $195 a share for TWC, which “represents a 14% premium to Time Warner Cable’s closing price of $171.18 on Friday. Last year, Charter had proposed a takeover at $132.50 a share in cash and stock, only to be bested by Comcast’s all-stock bid of just under $160 a share.”

The WSJ adds, “Time Warner Cable shareholders can choose $100 a share in cash and the rest in Charter stock, or $115 in cash and the remainder in stock, a person said.

“As part of the transaction, which could be announced as early as Tuesday, Charter also would merge with small operator Bright House Networks. The combined cable giant would have 23 million total customers, second only to Comcast’s 27 million among cable operators.”

Adds Bloomberg, “Charter has also been renegotiating its offer to buy billionaire Si Newhouse Jr.’s Bright House Networks for $10.4 billion.”

Bloomberg also notes that “[C]ompetition threatened to once again derail the plans of Charter and Mr. Malone: European telecommunications group Altice SA, backed by French cable baron Patrick Drahi, was in hot pursuit of Time Warner Cable in recent days. Mr. Drahi met with Mr. Marcus on May 20 to discuss a potential cash-and-stock deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Now that a deal has been struck with Charter, Altice doesn’t plan to submit a higher offer, according to people familiar with the matter.”

According to USA Today, last week “Altice said…. it’s entering the U.S. market by buying cable operator Suddenlink Communications.” That deal values Suddenlink – the nation’s seventh largest cable operator, with about 1.6 million residential and business subscribers — at about $9.1 billion, USA Today said.

About a possible Charter-TWC combination, the WSJ notes that Charter “is backed by cable pioneer John Malone’s Liberty Broadband Corp. , [and] a union with Time Warner Cable would be the culmination of two years of efforts to become a bigger U.S. cable player and a catalyst for industry consolidation. Liberty will help fund the deal by buying $5 billion of new Charter shares, and Mr. Malone’s stake in the combined entity will fall below 25%, a person familiar with the matter said.”

To read a sidebar item about why the cable operator industry is hot with merger mania, please click here.




May 25, 2015
1:40 pm

Why Cable Operators Have Caught Merger Mania Fever (Bloomberg)

What is making the U.S. cable-TV market so attractive, asks Bloomberg, before answering its own question.

According to Bloomberg, here’s what is going on:

1) “Cable is leaking subscribers… This decline is mostly because of defecting video subscribers, and it would be much worse but for the growth in broadband Internet connections.”

2) The video subs “who stick around pay more. Video revenue per cable subscriber has continued to rise.”

3) “Data users are more frugal. Average revenue per user for high-speed data isn’t growing as fast.”

4) “One handy way to deal with [these facts] is to negotiate better deals with the networks and programmers for all that content that you then sell to your subscribers. And guess what: you can negotiate much better deals if you’re big. Comcast and Time Warner are the only cable providers with serious scale, and they pay markedly less for programming than the smaller guys [such as Charter].

And, of course, Comcast has the advantage of owning a lot of cable networks.

To see all the charts that accompany Bloomberg’s article, we urge you to click here, which will take you to the original article itself.

May 25, 2015
9:14 am

Decades, a New Digital Sub-Channel Network From CBS and Weigel Broadcasting, Launches Today, Memorial Day (TVWeek)

Decades, a new multicast TV network from CBS Television Stations and Weigel Broadcasting Co., officially launches today, Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, according to a press release from Weigel.

The announcement says “The Decades multicast network broadcasts on the digital sub-channels of the CBS Television Stations and other broadcast groups.

“The network is currently available on 35 television stations representing more than 45% of the country, with additional affiliation announcements pending.

“Decades will feature a unique ‘daily time capsule’ lineup exploring different years, trends or events. Programming will include a one-hour original series as well as popular TV shows and films chosen to immerse viewers in that day’s Decades context. Programmed as a six-hour block, the schedule will be repeated four times each weekday, giving viewers in all time zones multiple opportunities to tune in.”

Today, the announcement notes, Decades will “feature the theatrical anti-war movie ‘Hair’ alongside the comedic TV series ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and the dramatic war series ‘The Rat Patrol,’ letting viewers experience contrasting depictions of combat and patriotism in entertainment. Presenting the Holiday weekend blockbuster phenomena, we feature a profile of director George Lucas, who premiered ‘Star Wars on Memorial Day 1977.

To see if Decades is available in your market, please go to the tune-in section of the Decades website,  which you find if you click here. To see a schedule of what’s on Decades through Sunday, May 31, 2015, please click here.

The announcement also notes that Decades will also feature “the original one-hour weekday program ‘Through the Decades,’ presenting historical CBS News and ‘Entertainment Tonight’ footage, along with other archival elements. Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Bill Kurtis [who is also the announcer on NPR’s popular ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’] hosts ‘Through the Decades,’ which unlocks our shared history. Viewers will explore the decades of the 1950s through the 1990s, where they can relive, remember and relate each day.”




May 25, 2015
9:00 am

Actress, Comedian Anne Meara Dies at 85. She Was the Longtime Comedy Partner and Wife of Jerry Stiller, and Ben Stiller’s Mom (Reuters)

“New York-born actress and comedian Anne Meara, known for her opposites-attract comedy routine with husband Jerry Stiller,” died on Saturday, May 23, 2015, Reuters reports. She was 85.

The story continues, “Meara, the mother of actor Ben Stiller…is survived by her husband and partner in life Jerry Stiller,” according to a statement released by the family, which added, “The two were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long.”

No cause of death was given.

The Reuters article adds, “By the 1960s, they had become a popular comedy duo on American television, making 36 appearances on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’

“Their act included skits such as an interview with the biblical Jonah after his encounter with the whale and parodies of TV commercials. Much of their humor was marriage-based and focused on height – Stiller was 5-foot-4, Meara was taller – and ethnicity – he was Jewish, she was of Irish heritage.”

To read a lot more about Anne Meara, please click on the link, above, which will take you to the original Reuters article.

Here’s a funny routine Stiller and Meara performed years ago on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” that we found on YouTube:

May 23, 2015
5:00 pm
May 22, 2015
4:00 pm

The Director of 17 (!) Consecutive Oscar Telecasts, Marty Pasetta, Dies in Tragic — and Bizarre –Auto Accident. He Was 82 (TheWrap; Variety)

“According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s office:

‘On Thursday, May 21, at 9:22 P.M. the La Quinta Police Department responded to the 49000 block of Via Conquistador, in the city of La Quinta regarding a fatal traffic collision. The driver, Keith Stewart, age 75 of La Quinta, was stopped on Via Conquistador allowing passengers to exit his vehicle. Stewart exited his vehicle, with the transmission still engaged, and [the vehicle] collided with two passengers who had already exited the vehicle. One passenger succumbed to his injuries at the scene and the other injured passenger was transported to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.’”

The two paragraphs above come from a story on the website of TheWrap. The person killed was Marty Pasetta, 82, best known for directing the live TV broadcast of the Academy Awards for 17 consecutive years from 1972 thru 1988.

TheWrap story adds, “Stewart was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.”

“Pasetta also helmed ‘Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii,’ which aired on Jan. 14, 1973, in more than 40 countries,” reports Variety, adding, “The concert special, featuring Elvis Presley at the Honolulu International Center, remains one of the most watched TV programs in history.”

The Variety story also says that Pasetta “produced and directed eight live Grammy Awards and Emmy telecasts. Pasetta’s other notable credits include ‘AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Fred Astaire’ (1981), ‘The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour’ (1967) and TV inaugural galas for presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.”

The Wrap story adds, “Three of Pasetta’s children — Martin Pasetta Jr., Debbie Pasetta Palacio and Greg Pasetta — are members of the Directors Guild and have worked in live television.”

May 22, 2015
3:58 pm

Report: Hacking Attack on Adult Dating Site Exposes Sexual Secrets of Millions of Users — and Names Are Being Named (CNN)

“More than 3.5 million people’s sexual preferences, fetishes and secrets have been exposed after dating site Adult FriendFinder was hacked,” CNN reports. “Already, some of the adult website’s customers are being identified by name.”

The site matches people according to details including their sexual preferences, the report notes.

“The site, which boasts 64 million members, claims to have ‘helped millions of people find traditional partners, swinger groups, threesomes, and a variety of other alternative partners,'” CNN adds.

The hack reportedly took place in March, with the site first being named this week when England’s Channel 4 News reported on the story.

“Included in the exposed personal information are customers’ email addresses, usernames, passwords, birthdays and zip codes, in addition to their sexual preferences. No credit card data has yet been uncovered as part of the hack,” CNN notes.

The report adds: “Andrew Auernheimer, a controversial computer hacker who looked through the files, used Twitter to publicly identify Adult FriendFinder customers, including a Washington police academy commander, an FAA employee, a California state tax worker and a naval intelligence officer who supposedly tried to cheat on his wife.”


May 22, 2015
3:50 pm

‘Heroes’ Actor Joins NBC’s ‘Heroes Reborn’ (EW)

An actor who was a part of the original NBC drama series “Heroes” has signed on for the network’s reboot, “Heroes Reborn.” reports that Greg Grunberg will appear in a guest arc on the new series.

Grunberg played Matt Parkman, a telepathic detective, on the original show. The new version is slotted for Thursday nights on NBC starting this fall.

A number of other stars from the original “Heroes” have already been announced for the new show — notably Masi Oka and Jack Coleman.

Here’s a teaser for the reboot:

May 22, 2015
3:45 pm

TLC Pulls ‘19 Kids and Counting’ Off Air in Light of Josh Duggar Controversy (TVWeek)

Yesterday, Thursday, April 21, 2015, it was reported that according to a 2006 Police Report, Josh Duggar was accused of child molestation. While not confirming that report, Duggar, 27, did release a statement yesterday saying, “Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret.”

Duggar is the oldest son on the hit TLC reality series “19 Kids and Counting.” Yesterday TLC did not respond to the situation, and actually aired a number of episodes of the show.

Today, however, TLC has released this statement: “Effective immediately, TLC has pulled all episodes of ’19 Kids and Counting’ currently from the air. We are deeply saddened and troubled by this heartbreaking situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and victims at this difficult time.”

New episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” have already finished airing this season. TLC has not yet announced whether or not it will renew the popular series.

To read our previous coverage about the current Duggar controversy, please click here.

May 22, 2015
9:07 am

What Were the Top 10 Shows of the 2014-2015 Broadcast Season? (Deadline)

The rankings are out for the top-rated shows of the just-concluded 2014-2015 broadcast season, and it’s no surprise that “NBC Sunday Night Football” came in at No. 1 — both in total viewers and in the key demo of adults 18-49.

But what may be a surprise is how close the second-place show, Fox’s “Empire,” came in the demo. “Empire” earned a 7.1 average rating in 18-49, just behind “Sunday Night Football’s” 7.3.

It was a close finish in total viewers, too, with CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” (19.1 million) not far behind NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” (20.8 million).

Here’s the top 10 for the season in the 18-49 demo:

  1. Sunday Night Football (NBC): 7.3
  2. Empire (Fox): 7.1
  3. CBS and NFL Network Thursday Night Football (CBS): 5.9
  4. The Big Bang Theory (CBS): 5.6
  5. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick (NBC): 5.3
  6. The OT (Fox): 4.6

– (Tie) The Big Bang Theory (2) (CBS): 4.6

  1. Modern Family (ABC): 4.3

– (Tie) Scandal (ABC): 4.3

  1. The Voice (NBC): 4.0

Top 10 shows for the 2014-2015 season in total viewers:

  1. Sunday Night Football (NBC): 20.8 million
  2. The Big Bang Theory (CBS): 19.1 million
  3. NCIS (CBS): 18.3 million
  4. NCIS: New Orleans (CBS): 17.4 million
  5. Empire (Fox): 17.3 million
  6. CBS and NFL Network Thursday Night Football (CBS): 17.1 million
  7. The Big Bang Theory (2) (CBS): 15.8 million
  8. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick (NBC): 15.6 million
  9. Dancing with the Stars (ABC): 14.7 million
  10. Madam Secretary (CBS): 14.2 million

The full list has been published by


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