Aug 27, 2015
10:11 am

Sinclair and Dish Settle Their Differences, Ending ‘One of the Largest Blackouts in History’ (TVNewsCheck)

After a blackout that saw the Sinclair Broadcast Group TV stations go dark on Dish Network systems for a short period of time amid a contentious carriage dispute, the two companies have come to terms, TVNewsCheck reports.

Sinclair announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement in principle with Dish covering carriage of 129 Sinclair TV stations in 79 markets, the story reports. The parties have agreed to a two-week extension to put the finishing touches on the accord.

Barry Faber, Sinclair EVP-general counsel and chief negotiator, said: “We are pleased to announce that we were able to come to an agreement in principal with Dish, and we regret any inconvenience that was caused to the Dish subscribers as a result of the short blackout.”

The report adds: “Earlier in the day, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had directed the Media Bureau to convene an emergency meeting with Dish and Sinclair. After learning of the agreement, Wheeler issued this statement: ‘On behalf of more than 5 million consumers nationwide, I am pleased Dish and Sinclair have agreed to end one of the largest blackouts in history and extend their negotiations. The FCC will remain vigilant while the negotiations continue.’”

sinclair broadcast group-logo-sbg

Aug 27, 2015
10:01 am

Stage Is Set for Music’s ‘Other’ Biggest Night (TVWeek)

The Grammy Awards may still be the music industry’s biggest night, but music’s “other” biggest night takes place this Sunday, when the MTV Video Music Awards are set to air.

Executive producer Van Toffler said he expects this year’s ceremony to be “loud and unpredictable.” The event has already generated plenty of buzz by naming Miley Cyrus as host and unveiling a lineup of A-list performers and guests.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin interviewed Toffler and has all the lowdown, including the latest update on the list of confirmed guests, in her special report — please click here to read it.


Aug 27, 2015
9:47 am

Graphic Video of the Slayings of a News Reporter and Cameraman Raises Moral and Ethical Questions (SF Chronicle)

“When video of the on-air shooting of a Virginia news reporter and cameraman [on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015] spread within minutes across the country — with the killer even posting his own footage online — they became the latest exhibits in a moral and ethical drama that is playing out in blood at newspapers and TV stations and on social media,” writes Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The story says, “Among the central questions were whether media producers ought to be broadcasting footage of a double slaying, and what effect does such video, repeating over and over, have on society, let alone unstable potential copycats?”

“‘Yes, everything is available online,’ Bob Papper, a journalism professor emeritus at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., who has surveyed trends in television and radio for 22 years” told the Chronicle. Papper continued, “I don’t know if it drives what’s on TV other than it makes us numb to the realities of it. It may well change the standard, so it’s possible young people have a very different standard of what to show than an old fogy like me, but I don’t think we need to see people being killed on television.”

The Chronicle also spoke to Ed Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He “said there is a tendency in the media to pander to the public’s morbid fascination. If videos like the one from Virginia aren’t shown, however, the news media could be accused of concealing facts from the public. … Wasserman said coverage of the carnage in Vietnam changed people’s opinions about the war, while the lack of such coverage in Iraq concealed ‘the horror and public suffering’ that he felt the public needed to know about.

“‘The trade-off is between needlessly horrifying people and concealing what people have a right to be exposed to in order to properly respond to this gruesome act,’ Wasserman said. ‘It’s complicated. Victims of bloodshed have rights, too. At some level there is a privacy right not to have the image of their slaughter made into public currency.’”

If you are interested in this story, more details can be found if you click here, which takes you to the original Chronicle piece.

Aug 27, 2015
9:31 am

Killer of Virginia News Reporter and Cameraman Had Worked at Other Stations (SF Chronicle)

The person who gunned down a TV reporter and cameraman in Virginia on live TV Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, started his TV career at KPIX in San Francisco in 1993, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the article, Vester Lee Flanagan II “started as a news intern for KPIX-TV in San Francisco in 1993, and was later given a paid staff position as a production assistant and weekend news writer.

“‘When Vester worked for KPIX, he was just a young, eager kid out of journalism school and like so many other interns and new employees who came through there in my 30 years at KPIX, he just wanted to be on TV and to do a good job,’ said retired station anchor Barbara Rodgers.”

The story adds: “After leaving KPIX in 1996, Flanagan bounced around a series of small markets in the South. He lived in San Francisco and worked as a customer service representative at PG&E from 2001 to 2002 before he made another go at TV news.

“In 2000, Flanagan filed a $15,000 federal lawsuit against WTWC-TV, an NBC affiliate in Tallahassee, Fla., charging racial discrimination and retaliation. He claimed a producer called him a ‘monkey’ in 1999, the year he was hired as a newscaster and anchor there. The suit was settled in 2001.”


Aug 27, 2015
9:17 am

Two of the Hottest Names in Hollywood Are Writing a Movie and Will Star in It Together (NY Times)

Two seemingly very different stars — an Oscar winner and a comedian who has nurtured an image as an outside-the-box personality — have joined forces to write and star in a movie.

The stars are Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer, who both happen to be burning brightly in Hollywood at the moment. Lawrence, who plays Katniss Everdeen in the “Hunger Games” movies, was recently named by Forbes magazine as the highest-paid actress of 2015, while Schumer has been on a roll with the fourth-season renewal of her Comedy Central series “Inside Amy Schumer” along with hosting the 2015 MTV Movie Awards and seeing the summer release of her star vehicle feature film “Trainwreck.”

The New York Times reports that the two women, who have become friends since first meeting about two months ago, have been collaborating on the comedy screenplay.

Lawrence told the paper: “We play sisters. We’re almost done writing. It just flowed out of us. We’ve got about 100 pages right now.”

Lawrence adds in the Times interview: “Amy and I were creatively made for each other. We have different flavors. It’s been the most fun experience of my life. We start the day off on the phone, laughing. And then we send each other pages. And we crack up. I’m flying out tomorrow to see her in Chicago. We’ll write a little bit with her sister, Kim, who worked with Amy when she was writing ‘Trainwreck.’”

inside amy schumer-title

Aug 27, 2015
9:07 am

Stock Market Rebounds After Tough Stretch — But Did Media Stocks Get Left Behind? (THR)

As the Dow Jones average posted its biggest one-day gain in four years on Monday — rebounding from a six-day losing streak — media stocks appeared to lag behind the rest of the market, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Dow Jones Industrials average surged 619 points on the day, a gain of 4%, the report notes. The average closed at 16,285.5. The media bellwether Walt Disney, however, was up just 3%.

“Disney’s cautious comments about growth in its cable networks division on Aug. 4 have been blamed for a massive decline in the sector,” THR reports.

Other key media stocks also appear to have missed out on at least part of the resurgence, the report notes. Viacom was up less than 1% on the day, while 21st Century Fox ticked up 2%, with 3% gains posted by Comcast, Time Warner and CBS.

Sony defied the trend, posting a 5% gain, “perhaps because it doesn’t own cable channels, assets that some investors are fleeing from as competition from Internet streaming intensifies,” THR reports.

The report adds: “Probably for the same reason, shares of Netflix rose more than 8 percent on Wednesday, while YouTube parent Google rose 8 percent and online retailer and video streamer Amazon.com was up 7 percent.”

As of publication time for this story, the Dow Jones average was up 376.87 points, or 2.31%, to 16,662.38 in today’s trading as the broad market rebound appeared to be stretching into a second day.

disney logo

Aug 27, 2015
8:44 am

Ashley Madison Hacking Incident Reveals Women on the Site Were Fake (Gizmodo, Us)

A security breach that exposed secret user data on the marital affair site Ashley Madison, which we reported on previously, revealed that the women who supposedly were listed on the site included a large number of what appears to be fake accounts.

Gizmodo editor-in-chief Annalee Newitz reports that an in-depth analysis leads to this conclusion: “When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.”

Us magazine examined the Gizmodo analysis and reported: “The official numbers from the site showed that 31 million of the accounts belonged to men while 5 million supposedly were linked to females. However, Newitz took a deeper dive into the landscape of Ashley Madison and found that a whopping 10,000 accounts were created with the Ashleymadison.com email, implying that they were test subscriptions. Nine thousand of those 10,000 belonged to women.”

Focusing on three data fields — time stamps, chat users and message replies — the Gizmodo analysis found a “disproportionate number” of fake accounts or test accounts.

“Using the data field of mail_last_time, Newitz found that only 1,492 of the women on the site had ever checked messages, compared to the 20 million-plus men,” Us reports.

Similarly, only 2,400 women had accessed chat_last_time, vs. 11 million-plus men, the Us report notes. And only 9,700 women had ever replied to a message, compared with 5.9 million men.

Newitz adds: “Out of 5.5 million female accounts, roughly zero percent had ever shown any kind of activity at all, after the day they were created.”

“What I discovered was that the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized,” Newitz writes on Gizmodo. “This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives. It isn’t even a sadscape of 31 million men competing to attract those 5.5 million women in the database. Instead, it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots.”

The Gizmodo report concludes: “Ashley Madison employees did a pretty decent job making their millions of women’s accounts look alive. They left the data in these inactive accounts visible to men, showing nicknames, pictures, sexy comments. But when it came to data that was only visible … to company admins, they got sloppy. … Either way, we’re left with data that suggests Ashley Madison is a site where tens of millions of men write mail, chat, and spend money for women who aren’t there.”

Among the users whose subscriptions were exposed in the data breach were reality personalities Josh Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” and Josh Taekman, the husband of “Real Housewives of New York” star Kristen Taekman, Us notes.


Aug 27, 2015
8:31 am

Two Broadcast Nets Slugging It Out to Finish as King of Summer (Media Life)

Two of the big four broadcast networks are in a dead heat as the race to finish on top in the summer ratings comes down to the wire.

Media Life reports that ABC and NBC are tied in the key demo of adults 18-49. ABC was the early leader in the summer season, but has seen its sizable margin chipped away by NBC in July and August.

With three full weeks left in the season, both networks are averaging a 1.4 demo rating, based on Nielsen data through Aug. 23. That’s exactly where they found themselves at this point one year ago — tied at 1.4.

“The other two Big Four networks have suffered slight declines this summer,” Media Life notes. “Fox is No. 3 with a 1.1 rating, down a tenth from a 1.2 last year. And CBS is fourth with a 1.0, down a tenth from a 1.1.”

Combined, the big four networks are down 4% from where they were at this time a year ago.

ABC got off to a good start with a record performance for the network by the NBA Finals along with a 13% rise for “The Bachelorette,” which delivered a 2.0.

NBC, however, is positioned to win the summer. Its top performer has been “America’s Got Talent,” but the difference maker will likely be the return of the NFL in two weeks.

america's got talent

Aug 27, 2015
1:02 am

Justin Bieber Look-Alike Found Dead (People, TMZ)

“Tobias ‘Toby’ Sheldon, the 35-year-old who spent more $100,000 on plastic surgery to look like Justin Bieber, was found dead last week,” reports the website of People magazine.

The story continues, “According to TMZ, officials found his body on Aug. 21 in a Motel 6 in California’s San Fernando Valley. Officers found drugs at the scene, but no cause of death has been determined.”


Justin Bieber look-alike Toby Sheldon on E!

Aug 26, 2015
11:51 pm

To Those Not Familiar With Jorge Ramos, He Has Been Called the Spanish-Language Walter Cronkite, in the Sense That Cronkite Was Thought by Many to Be the Most Trusted Man in America. Could This Be the Downfall of a Seemingly Teflon-Protected Donald Trump? (LA Times)

“[P]rodding Jorge Ramos, who has been called the Spanish-language Walter Cronkite, could prove dangerous for Donald Trump, who thus far has been something of a Teflon candidate,” writes Christine Mai-Duc in the Los Angeles Times.

She continues, “Here’s why: [Ramos] has anchored ‘Noticiero Univision,’ Spanish-language TV’s No.1-ranked newscast, for nearly three decades and is considered a trusted source of news. A 2010 study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that among Latinos, Ramos was the second-most recognized Latino leader behind Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and other polls have shown he is one of the most trusted public figures among Latinos.

“Spanish-language news has almost the same pull as the priest in the pulpit,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), told the Los Angeles Times in 2013. “And Jorge Ramos is the pope, he’s the big kahuna.”

The piece also notes, “According to recently published research, the GOP’s presidential nominee would need to win nearly half of the Latino vote to make it to the White House. (President Obama won re-election with 71% of the Latino vote).

Furthermore, “During the last presidential election cycle, Washington Monthly called Ramos the broadcaster who would most determine the outcome of the 2012 election.

Here’s a statement released Wednesday by Randy Falco, the former longtime NBC executive who is Univision’s president and CEO: “The recent treatment that Jorge Ramos received at Mr. Trump’s press conference in Iowa is beneath contempt. As a Presidential candidate, Mr. Trump is going to get tough questions from the press and has to answer them. Jorge Ramos is one of the most professional, dedicated and respected journalists I have seen or worked with in my 40 years in media. He always asks hard questions of candidates and elected officials, regardless of party or issue. Mr. Trump demonstrated complete disregard for him and for the countless Hispanics whom Jorge seeks to represent through press questions that are at the heart of the First Amendment. I remain grateful for the first-rate journalistic work that Jorge and all of his news colleagues at Univision and Fusion do to bring all points of view to the 57 million Hispanics in this country.”

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