Reuters blog archive
When it comes to wiretapping in the UK, the key question for Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp, is what did he know and when did he know it?
Murdoch's News of the World is caught up in new allegations that its journalists intercepted mobile phone voicemails of Hollywood celebrities and athletes. British police have said they are not re-opening a 2005 investigation, which saw the firing of then News of World editor Andy Coulson.
Many want to know how far up the chain of command did knowledge of this alleged activity went. So what does Murdoch have to say on this matter?
"Nothing to say at all," he told Reuters at the Sun Valley conference late on Thursday afternoon.
Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co's media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.
That means nearly every media reporter you can think of will be hovering among the hedgerows and parking lots (and in the bar, naturally), waiting to get a few precious seconds with super-wattage movie executives from DreamWorks's Jeffrey Katzenberg to Paramount's Brad Grey, technology heavyweights such as Michael Dell and Bill Gates, media kingpins Philippe Dauman and Rupert Murdoch and fresh-faced startup darlings like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter's Evan Williams and Ning's Gina Bianchini.
Starting today Disney content will go live on Hulu, consumating a deal that was struck earlier this year to join the two-year venture with NBC Universal, News Corp and Providence Equity Partners.
The first few shows include popular fare from ABC such as Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. This means Hulu is going from strength to strength in locking down its leadership as the place for watching TV on the Web.
News about the media industry:
Netflix looks to future but still going strong with DVD rentals (USA Today)
"Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings doesn't think his 58 distribution centers are in immediate danger of becoming obsolete, but he knows that day will come. He believes DVD rentals have four to nine years to keep growing, despite inroads in Internet delivery of movies to set-top TV boxes and other video-on-demand options," writes Jefferson Graham.
Is the bell tolling for Clear Channel? (San Antonio Express-News)
David Hendricks writes: "Analysts believe Clear Channel, now with about $22 billion in total debts, will have trouble making scheduled payments later this year. The company, already down to about 800 stations from its peak of about 1,200 stations, either will have to start selling stations itself or go into bankruptcy, where lenders will put stations up for sale."
News Corp Chief Executive showed up for his latest interview on the Fox Business Network (which he owns) on Monday. Here is a transcript of some of his remarks. He covered a lot of ground, from tonight's union concession vote at The Boston Globe to the future of newspapers and the inclusion of software on computers sold in China that will block access to certain websites. We are providing excerpts -- we trimmed for length, most notably excising his comments on healthcare and taxes (We know it's the Internet, but we had to shorten it up a bit. You can see or read the whole thing here.
On FOX Interactive possibly looking at job cuts:
"It's too early to talk about job cuts. ... We've put new management in there, they've been there three weeks and they're making a close examination of it and they'll no doubt set some new directions, strengthen other very strong parts of it, and you know, the advertising is at least double what Facebook has and it's in pretty good shape. But there will be, I'm sure, changes with the new management."
News Corp publicized in a government filing on Thursday an effort by investor Kenneth Steiner to force the media conglomerate to change the way it counts shareholder votes. Steiner outlined the proposal in a letter to News Corp that asked that his proposal be included. Here is what he said:
Two key points: News Corp's papers, which in the United States include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the Ottaway chain of local dailies, will not take government money to help them stay afloat; and there is private financing for media companies out there. Here's what Murdoch said on those topics, and more. (Thanks for FBN for this transcript)
The Wall Street Journal has been making plenty of hay about its rising circulation and the growing number of people online who are using the site, but parent company News Corp is cutting costs as the whole media business suffers from the recession. To that end, here is Dow Jones Chief Executive Les Hinton's Monday memo on some benefits cutbacks that the company is instituting.
Many companies are resetting their benefits in reaction to the economic challenges of the moment. Dow Jones has felt these same challenges and our business is far from immune to them. Unlike other media companies we have been able to avoid making changes driven by short-term necessity.
from The Great Debate:
There is nothing like the threat of a hanging to concentrate the mind.
The newspaper industry is in a collective panic over its future. The debate centers on the thorny issue of how publishers might find some way, any way, to make online readers to pay for what they read.
The fear is that the newspaper business model has suffered a mortal wound from the collapse of advertising that once funded it, and which has only accelerated in the current economic environment. Or perhaps it's the realization that younger generations reared on digital media will never settle down to buy print.