Seeking good media news, finding Police shows

Perhaps the business outlook for most industries is bleak thanks to the global economic crisis, but there’s a strangeness to the media industry’s troubles, since it has to report on its own undoing. And there is plenty of undoing to report.

Today’s pain? Advertising Age says a “Shakeout” is in the offing among publications. And Mediaweek suggests both buyers and sellers of ads are cutting back, with some marketers “cutting print budgets as much as 50 percent.”

Moreover, there is only one more day of election ads.

Perhaps the solution lies in Police TV shows, which, according to the New York Times, has helped CBS attract viewers in the advertising sweet-spot: 18-49 year olds.

Apparently, what is good for CBS is a bad economy. CBS’s lineup of police procedurals, where the criminals always get caught, and sitcoms that are reliably funny in unchallenging ways, seems to be becoming a safe haven for viewers worried about jobs and mortgages.

Go figure.

Keep an Eye On:

    MySpace unveils a technology that it hopes will resolve copyright issues (WSJ) Even elections can’t help depressed ad spending (Ad Age) Media mogul John Malone’s Liberty Media to use its large cash reserves to reduce its debt load (Reuters) Viacom reports quarterly results, with an eye on Sumner Redstones debt woes (Forbes)

(Photo: Reuters)

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That’ s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

The report shows that negative stories about Arizona Sen. McCain has been decidedly unfavorable and has worsened over time, with negative stories about him outnumbering favorable Obama stories by more than three to one.

Outsource, baby, outsource!

Reading newspapers at Martin Place in central SydneyAiling ad sales? Restive workers? Colossal costs? If your media company is experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, try outsourcing. While the long-term side effects are not yet known, outsourcing is proving to be an increasingly popular remedy for media companies looking to buff up their balance sheets.

The latest one — and potentially a harbinger for others in U.S. media companies — is MediaNews Group, the privately held, Colorado-based newspaper publisher run by “Lean” Dean Singleton.

Here is his latest comment on outsourcing, as covered by The Associated Press:

Singleton, who also serves as chairman of the board of The Associated Press, told the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association that his company was exploring outsourcing in nearly every aspect of their operations.

The media, the economy and you

tv-reporter.jpgMedia coverage of economic troubles in the past 18 months has shifted repeatedly in the last year from a narrative about mortgages to one about recession, a banking crisis and now largely gas prices, according to a new report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington, D.C.

All this is good to know, but the bigger question is why it has progressed the way it has. Fortunately for us, PEJ digs right into it.(And before the meat, here’s the methodology: The PEJ study is based on an analysis of more than 5,000 economic stories from January 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008, drawn from 1,950 hours of programming on the three major cable news cable channels, 390 on network morning and evening TV, 910 on radio, and 468 days’ editions of 21 different newspapers, and the five leading news websites, some 48 different news outlets in all.)Here’s an excerpt:

[The] connection between media coverage and economic events has often been uneven. Sometimes, coverage has lagged months behind economic activity, when the storyline was dependent on government data. Other times, coverage has tracked events erratically, as with housing and inflation. … But when the story is easier to tell, as in the case of gas prices, coverage has been closely tied to what is actually occurring in the marketplace.

Sun Valley fashion police

Further to our earlier post on the hottest looks in executive casual at Sun Valley, here are a few more outfits hot off the runway.

Who gets your vote for America’s next top model?

 Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng Michael EisnerWarren Buffett  Debra LeePhilippe DaumanTom Brokaw  Mike Volpi and Toni CupalShelby Bonnie and Cassey WassermanAnne Sweeney

Henry KravisBill MillerRon Meyer

Mouse over the photos to identify your favorite executive and comment below.

(Photos: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Sun Valley – a sked of who’s where, when…

kingabdullah.jpgThanks to New York Times Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook blog here’s a sked of who’s going to be speaking at this year’s annual media mogul and new media upstart get-together organized by Allen & Company in Idaho’s Sun Valley. founder Jeff Bezos, IAC/InterActive Corp’s CEO Barry Diller, and Google co-founder Larry Page will be among those speaking today.

Other key names speaking tomorrow include Sir Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony Corp. , Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation.

Moguls roll into Sun Valley

Media moguls — well really, tycoons of all kinds — trickled into the Sun Valley Lodge on Tuesday for Allen & Co’s annual pow wow in Sun Valley. Or, in the case of Rupert Murdoch, he drove a white Toyota SR5.

Here are some mugshots:

Rupert Murdoch

     Lachlan Murdoch     Bob Iger

Howard Stringer

     Gordon Crawford     Henry Vigil, Microsoft stategy chief
No wonder the swans got scared.

(Photos: Reuters)


Sun Valley’s secret guest

Every year a secret guest graces Allen & Co’s Sun Valley conference with his/her presence. Last year, Tony Blair quietly rolled in and lunched with Viacom chief Sumner Redstone, among other activities.

If you can figure out which country this flag belongs to, you’ve got the answer:


Thanks to Reuters photographer Rick Wilking for this one. Sun Valley Lodge staffers unfurled the flag and quickly took it down — likely after being told it was secret. We’re hearing from one guest that this year’s surprise attendee will be His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Valley of the moguls

Swan smallerThey call it the Duck Pond, but it’s actually teaming with (vicious) swans. It’s considered a big media and tech powwow, but a broad swath of global corporate titans of finance and politics round out the guest list.

It’s the 26th annual Allen & Co Sun Valley conference, where high-wattage huddles transpiring on the tranquil resort grounds among stunningly rich business people swathed in questionable leisure wear could end up in big deals months from now. The legend springs from the track record: AOL and Time Warner, Walt Disney and CapCities/ABC, Google and YouTube are all said to have gotten started here.

In between knitting (!), yoga, white-water rafting and golfing, and bridge (!) games execs like Google’s trio Eric Schmidt, Larry Page and Sergey Brin mix it up Disney’s Bob Iger, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch.

Kung Fu Killer III?

carradine.JPGThere are humble beginnings, and then there are those who get dropped-kicked. An example of the latter is what’s being billed as 2008′s first media sector initial public offering: RHI Entertainment LLC, makers of “Kung Fu Killer” and “Kung Fu Killer II” and other made-for-television movies.

The “Kung Fu” series reimagines David Carradine‘s Kwai Chang Caine character as White Crane, “spiritual master of the martial arts who takes on criminals deep in the bowels of Shanghai.

RHI is bestowed the title of first media IPO by edging in front of Al Gore-backed Current Media, the owners of interactive cable channel Current TV, which filed for a $100 million IPO in January, but has yet to indicate when it expects to go public. Meanwhile, losses are mounting up quickly as ad revenue shrinks.