MediaFile

The future of newspapers via Sam Zell

Sam Zell popped over to CNBC’s Squawk Box on Tuesday to chat about real estate and investment opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. This being MediaFile, we were most interested in what Zell had to say about Tribune Co., the company that he helms and that is currently  slogging its way through a bankruptcy with warring creditors.

Zell didn’t reveal a whole lot when asked about the Chapter 11 process but he did share his thoughts on the future of newspapers and that future involves… PDFs! Zell is pretty sweet on the idea that home delivery will just go away something the  Detroit Free Press and Detroit News semi-embraced more than a year ago.  Instead newspaper subscribers will be able to get electronic versions of the newspapers.

Here’s Zell on what he believes is in store for newspapers:  ”Going forward it’s going to require all kinds of different approaches, including, probably the most significant,  the elimination of home delivery and the replacement of it with PDFs. The iPad  is the real example of almost replicating a newspaper on an instrument. I think that is only the beginning of how that is all going to evolve.”

Rupert Murdoch on Obama and moose

Ever wonder what News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch thinks about the direction this country is going and how Rupert MurdochPresident Obama is handling his job?  If you were on hand during the opening panel at The New York Forum last night in mid-town Manhattan,  you got an earful.

Some background: The New York Forum is newly formed meeting of business, economic and other luminary minds to address challenges facing the global economy. The Forum plans to present the ideas developed during the conference to the G-20 Summit taking place this Saturday.

Murdoch spoke on a panel made up of a grab-bag of high level executives — Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines, real estate magnate Jerry Speyer and Philippe Camus, chairman of Alcatel-Lucent. CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo was on hand to moderate.

UPDATE: Everybody loves Steve Burke, even Warren Buffett

Stephen BurkeWhen news of Comcast’s bid for NBC Universal broke on Sept 30 most of the spotlight focused on Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

But as the weeks dragged on, some of that spotlight began to shine on his number 2, Stephen Burke, chief operating officer and a former senior Disney executive.

As we now know since the deal was confirmed on Dec 3, NBC Universal’s top brass will report to Burke, making him (once you count the 24 million subscribers he also oversees) one of the most powerful men in TV.

Media, tech moguls meet in New York (You are NOT invited)

Media and technology executives are meeting Wednesday and Thursday in New York City at a conference hosted by private equity firm Quadrangle. Note the word private.

When they meet at the Plaza, they will talk about a ton of different things that their customers, their investors and other readers want to know. I have to apologize for them because they’re not letting in any riff-raff. And that includes reporters who get paid to spend all day figuring out how these people decide what kind of entertainment you want, what kind of technology you pay them for and what deals they pursue with the money that you give them when you buy their stock. This event always excludes press, but that’s no reason not to highlight what you probably are missing because of this. After all, who wants to wait for the 8-K filing?

Some press will be allowed, but it will be an assortment of celebrity journalists who will moderate panels and, according to Peter Kafka, author of “MediaMemo” at News Corp’s AllThingsD blog, will not write about the event (I’m talking about Maria Bartiromo and David Faber of CNBC, The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, etc).

Martha Stewart KA-Bars Kmart

After seeing Martha Stewart on CNBC this morning, I was surprised to find that she doesn’t sell a Martha Stewart-branded KA-Bar knife because she seems like she knows how to use one.

Stewart appeared on TV to talk about the company’s new merchandising agreement with Home Depot. The hardware big-box retailer will offer a line of products sold under the Martha Stewart brand. Before they got too far into the interview, they talked about a similar program with discount retailer Kmart that ends in January 2010 — the same time that the Home Depot deal begins.

Here is an excerpt:

The new [Kmart] ownership really has let our line deteriorate. It’s been kind of ripped off, I would say, and really diminished, and the quality is really not what I am proud of. Have you been into a Kmart lately? it’s not the nicest place to shop. …

from Shop Talk:

Howard Schultz wakes up and smells the media

 Perhaps he woke up one day and smelled his own coffee shops struggling in the weak economy. So, schultz2Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz is waking up to a fresh brew by percolating new business in the media world.

Starbucks has become the official naming sponsor of CNBC's "Morning Joe" television show. The move is a throwback to the 1950s, when television programs were underwritten by manufacturers ranging from soap to cigarettes, and it comes as traditional advertising dollars are shrinking for publishers, television networks and other ad-reliant businesses. 

Schultz, who has made his own headlines over the years, also is an investor in TheWrap.com, a celebrity news blog based in Los Angeles, through Maveron, a venture capital firm he co-founded with Dan Levitan.

from DealZone:

Stress-Test Expertise

NEWYORK-SPITZER/It seemed only a bit odd that media star Arianna Huffington was the guest host on CNBC the day the all-important stress test results were due. Not to play down her credentials in media or commentary circles, but where were the celebrated bank analysts, the corporate chieftains and the investment gurus who so routinely enjoy a dose of the limelight on America's Business Channel?

Wasn't this the perfect day for a newsmaker rather than a news talker? The Huffington Post founder has been a good reality check on market cheerleaders who live on CNBC, but on Stress-Test Thursday, the less-than-casual viewer expects insiders with insight. It tasted like something strange and exotic had made its way into the DealZone coffee machine.

Then disgraced former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer joined the fray, and the slightly odd became surreal. Spitzer, who casually noted he was invited to the show (hint, hint), gave a spirited view from the nosebleed seats, far back from the federal policymakers' bench.

CNBC=Cranky Nasty Business Correspondent

Rick Santelli’s extended tryout process to join the more vitriolic commentary-mongers at Fox News continues. Santelli already raised eyebrows and network blood pressure at CNBC when he aired his “tea party” comments on live TV, raising questions among media obsessives about whether he was in the tank for the Republican Party.

Today’s incident was tamer in the sense that he only accused one of his colleagues, senior economics reporter Steve Liesman, of asking stupid questions. That’s not as big an insult to a civilian as it is to a journalist, who hopes to get paid for asking smart questions. (And someone with Liesman’s extensive business journalism pedigree probably asks fewer stupid questions than most.)

The background: Six of the CNBC gang were on TV discussing whether Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and ex-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson pressured Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis to keep quiet about losses at Merrill Lynch when Bank of America was also under pressure from the government to buy Merrill. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said last month that Bernanke and Paulson threatened Lewis with losing his job if he didn’t push the acquisition through to, essentially, save the U.S. and world financial systems.

Did the watchdog forget to bark?

The opening panel at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual meet in Denver addressed an interesting question: Did 9,000 business journalists blow it when it came to ringing the alarm bells on the financial meltdown?

The five SABEW panelists — The New York Times’ business editor Larry Ingrassia, Columbia Journalism Review critic and former Wall Street Journal reporter Dean Starkman, personal finance columnist Jane Bryant Quinn, Emmy-winning former ABC News investigative reporter Allan Dodds Frank and Greg Miller, a professor at the University of Michigan — agreed that the financial press could have done more. Newspapers, wire services, magazines and television stations could have been more aggressive, and they could have taken more pains to explain why complex things like mortgage-backed securities might matter to the average reader.

But journalists can hardly be accused of “blowing it” when even doomsday pundits like Bob Shiller and Nouriel Roubini could predict only parts of the nightmare scenario that is unfolding in the U.S. economy right now, the panelists said.

Good news for Madison Ave: WPP will only be slightly down

Slightly down is the new up.

At least judging from the reception that advertising giant WPP received today after it predicted like-for-like revenue would drop 2 percent this year.

Shares were up about 5 percent after the report from WPP, the last of the big three advertising holdings to post quarterly results. For all the worry about the advertising recession — and no doubt advertising is bad right now — WPP, Omnicom and Interpublic also showed some bright spots in their numbers.

WPP, in fact, said the in the ”long-term” the outlook for the advertising and marketing services business “appears favorable.” “Long-term” isn’t a particularly well-defined timeframe, but nonetheless those are pretty upbeat comments coming from an industry that has seen auto, retail and financial services spending drop like a stone.