MediaFile

Media Wrapup

Here is a selection of the day’s stories about the media industry:

US TV prepares for $2bn ad shortfall (FT)

“Digital video recorders that allow viewers to skip through commercials have knocked confidence in broadcast and cable advertising while younger, tech-savvy audiences are deserting their TV sets to spend more time online,” writes the Financial Times.

Smartphones, social networks to boost mobile advertising (Reuters)

Reuters reports: “As more consumers embrace new technologies and devices such as smartphones, personified by Apple’s iPhone, mobile advertising is seen growing at an annual average of 45 percent to reach $28.8 billion within 5 years from a current $3.1 billion, according to Ineum Consulting.”

Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran (NYT)

Brian Stelter writes: “In a news vacuum, amateur videos and eyewitness accounts became the de facto source for information. In fact, the symbol of the protests, the image of a young woman named Neda bleeding to death on a Tehran street, was filmed by two people holding camera phones.”

MSNBC Aims to Raise Profile with HD (B&C)

“If a news network is going to attract casual viewers and turn them into loyal viewers, it helps to be in the same HD neighborhood as their cable news competitors. MSNBC in HD will launch at different times on different MSOs. It will debut on Cablevision on June 29 and on Time Warner in July. By the end of August, MSNBC HD will be available in 11 million homes,” writes Marisa Guthrie.

US: Decline in time spent at top 30 global news sites (Editors Weblog)

“Average time spent per visit decreased for more than half of the top 30 global news websites in May compared to last year, according to the latest Nielsen data. The trend mirrors the drops seen at the top newspaper sites,” writes Liz Webber.

from Summit Notebook:

SEC’s Schapiro says journalist job cuts worrying

Mary Schapiro, America's new top cop for the securities industry, said the current mass culling of journalists' jobs is a concern because it could reduce the number of leads that regulators get as they seek to crack down on nefarious behavior.

"It's an absolute worry for me because I think financial journalists have in many cases been the sources of some really important enforcement cases and really important discovery of practices and products that regulators should be profoundly concerned about," the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission told the Reuters Global Financial Regulation Summit in Washington on Tuesday.

"But for journalists having been dogged and determined and really pursuing some of these things, they might not be known to the regulators or they might not be known for a long time," she said.

Sirius: Rumors of our near death? It was the media’s fault

It’s the media! That’s what Sirius would have us believe.

On a post-earnings call on Thursday executives said the company’s precarious financial position during the last few months as it sought to resolve a looming debt debacle was exacerbated by the media’s interest in Sirius. Apparently, stories about companies going bust not only upset investors and creditors, but customers too.

Sirius XM President of Operations Jim Meyer told Wall Street analysts he’s excited to have completed the debt refinancing and merger between Sirius and XM so the company can assure customers it will be around for a while.

There certainly was headwind associated with both the confusion of putting the two companies together and the overall just unbelievable amount of news and press that we have seen really in the fourth quarter and continuing in January and February on the financial condition and refinancing of our balance sheet.

Outlook grim for media and entertainment deals

Deal-making in the U.S. media and entertainment sectors is going to be down this year, says a new PricewaterhouseCoopers survey (request a copy here). Now, that’s not a new or startling conclusion given the state of the economy, but it’s just another piece of evidence that when consumers and advertisers get thrifty, deal makers can end up become benchwarmers as companies struggle with cost cuts and other exigencies.

Here are some industry trends for 2009 from the PWC survey:

    Declining consumer spending is hitting many media and entertainment companies. What’s more, these declines were exacerbated by technological convergence, as these firms adapt to and look for ways to make money off new Internet technologies. Overall U.S. advertising market is going to shrink as sponsors cut ad budgets across retail, consumer goods, automotive, financial and other sectors. Companies will continue to divest their non-core assets, but those that don’t get a good price will prefer to hold on rather than sell at bargain prices. Bolt-on deals will likely be popular for risk-averse companies, so deals below $1 billion — mostly small and mid-market companies — will be a rising trend. Private equity will remain quiet since the debt markets aren’t really healthy yet. Deal structures will change this year, given the difficulty of getting debt financing. The strategic rationale for doing a deal will be more important than getting a favorable capital structure.

But all hope is not lost, according to PWC’s Transaction Services Entertainment & Media Leader Thomas Rooney:

With M&A activity ingrained in the DNA of so many companies and the ever growing presence of private equity, E&M deal activity might not be as quiet as many expect in 2009… History has shown the E&M industry to be one of the more active M&A sectors irrespective of market and economic conditions.

Tweeters as editors, sources, merchants?

In his speech at the Shorty Awards — the first unofficial Oscars for Twitter users — on Wednesday night, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez marveled at the intermingling of new and old media. Then he told the smartly dressed audience that Tweeters are “my editors, my sources, my friends, my focus group. You’re the people who matter to me more than some of the people who are supposed to matter to me.”******All this from a site where everything starts with a simple question: “What are you doing?” As the audience kept an eye on the stage while typing furiously on their cellphones, event organizer Gregory Galant told us Twitter was about much more than “where you write about what you had for lunch.”***This seemed to be confirmed by by this so-very-novice-tweeter reporter’s straw poll of attendees, who were treated to an appearance by fellow-tweeter MC Hammer.******Whatever else it is, Twitter is definitely a commercial tool as well as a social platform. Many of the 26 winners even used their tweet-sized-140-words acceptance speeches for blatant promotion of ideas, blogs businesses or causes.******Rich Tucker, known as @cruisesource on twitter, won the travel award and used his short spot to plug something called the Sofresh Social Media Cruise.***Politics winner @justin_hart promoted a politician while Scott Zagarino @athletes4acure spoke out about prostate cancer when accepting the nonprofits prize.***Martin Sargent @martinsargent, won the weird category and took a dig at the platform itself. “What’s truly weird is that by receiving the $1,000 grant that accompanies this award, I’m 1,000 times more profitable than Twitter. Thank you.” Another contendor for the weird prize, @Matman showed up at the party in an outfit to promote WellComeMat.com******Then there was the mix of attendees, many of whom paid a $60 entrance fee, besides the reporters who gave the event pretty wide coverage.***Nora Abousteit, who runs an open source sewing pattern web site burdaStyle.com, said she depends so much on Twitter for media updates that she changed her cellphone number and service after discovering twitter didn’t work well on her old phone.***Liam, a bemused 26-year-old from Brooklyn went because he is friends with the organizers. “I don’t understand twitter at all. I don’t get it,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of social interaction being boiled down to a computer.”******But Claire Chang of San Francisco-based Psolenoid saw practical uses. Chang, who is developing a twitter application, tweeted that she was going from Times Square to the awards. A reply came in time to share a car with another tweeter. At the end of the night Claire was confidently tweeting for a ride back to the city.******Vonda LePage, communications director for ad agency Deutsche Inc, dabbles with allkinds of social media. New York Times David Pogue may see twitter being “What you make it” but LePage has definite notions about what Twitter means to her – sharing information for business. But you have to be sincere or people will stop following your tweets, “if you only use it for commercial purposes, you’ll be turned off,” she said. As for the idea of telling the world you’re drinking a coffee or upset about something, LePage said, “That’s Facebook.”******(Photos of @Matman and stage screen at Shorty awards/Sinead Carew)

In DC media, newspapers sink, niche outlets swim

The interests of the paranoid and the preservers of the free press are converging: Mainstream media’s coverage of Washington, D.C., has shrunk to the point where big stories are being left uncovered. Meanwhile, more “niche” media outlets are moving in, but catering to the interests of the wealthy few.

That’s the essence of a 28-page report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which says that the number of journalists covering D.C. at the beginning of the Obama administration “is not so much smaller as it is dramatically transformed.”

You can read Howard Kurtz’s narrative in Wednesday’s Washington Post, or you could take a look at the main points we found in the release, presented bullet-point style for busy folks.

Disney breaks out interactive results

The Walt Disney Co drew kudos from analysts in an otherwise dismal earnings report for breaking out results for its Interactive Media Group for the first time.

The unit, made up of its console, mobile and online gaming operations and Disney.com, turned in an 18 percent revenue increase but operating profit dropped after the soft retail environment, competition for consumers’ time and Disney’s “substantial” investment in the product lines were factored in.

The decision to break out the unit’s results — it comprises just 3 percent of Disney’s total revenue, according to one analyst — came in the same quarter in which Disney CEO Bob Iger warned investors that its older media businesses — DVD sales and broadcast television — face “secular changes” from which they may never recover.

from Davos Notebook:

Knowing one’s place in Davos

The big, big question for the hordes of journalists churning up the fresh, Davos snow is not how to end global economic turmoil, but where their hard-won World Economic Forum accreditation allows them to roam.

A record cast of more than 40 heads of state and government,  more than 30 finance ministers and central bankers, as well as 1,400 business executives, will be hotly pursued by 400 journalists, colour-coded into white and orange badge holders.

The 200 snow-coloured badges are the most highly prized. Anyone holding one is considered a participant, who can contribute to the great debate on setting the world to rights. They can follow World Economic Forum delegates anywhere, provided the security guards allow.

Dial M For MySpace mobile advertising

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe is bullish on the mobile advertising market, but says ad agencies and corporate sponsors haven’t figured out to dial into it.

Speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, DeWolfe outlined MySpace’s mobile efforts, such as its Blackberry application. He said the company was targeting more download applications for mobile devices. He said he saw big opportunities in the mobile-based advertising sector once there’s some standardization.

We think the future of mobile is more advertising based. But the marketplace on the advertiser side has not quite caught up to the inventory out there… It’s relatively undeveloped, but we think it’s a market that will grow.

Hey Media, don’t cross Barney Frank!

Here’s a fun one from my colleague Emily Kaiser, who’s reporting from Capitol Hill today (she’s monitoring the hearing on TV. Turns out we have someone else there. That’s what you get when you write about DC from New York), specifically from the Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives:

Committee Chairman and Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Barney Frank was convening a hearing on how the government is using the $700 billion rescue fund, featuring some serious economic star power in the form of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Sheila Bair.

Long story short, when the financial future of the nation is at stake, you gotta let the hearing get started — especially when Rep Frank wields the gavel: