MediaFile

Could Google buy Twitter? Ask Arrington, then ask Swisher

******We sprinkled updates into this blog. We’re highlighting them like this.******Thanks to TechCrunch, U.S. tech reporters are about to spend another weekend working instead of playing. UPDATE: Or maybe Kara Swisher at All Things D will save them!******Two sources told proprietor Michael Arrington that Google “is in late stage negotiations to acquire Twitter.” He wrote:***

We don’t know the price but can assume its well, well north of the $250 million valuation that they saw in their recent funding.

***

Twitter turned down an offer to be bought by Facebook just a few months ago for half a billion dollars, although that was based partially on overvalued Facebook stock. Google would be paying in cash and/or publicly valued stock, which is equivalent to cash. So whatever the final acquisition value might be, it can’t be compared apples-to-apples with the Facebook deal.

***

Why would Google want Twitter? We’ve been arguing for some time that Twitter’s real value is in search. It holds the keys to the best real time database and search engine on the Internet, and Google doesn’t even have a horse in the game.

******Later, he updated his entry to say that another source told him talks are at an early stage and could amount to a deal to build a Google real-time search engine. Who knows how this one will shake out. Web operations like Twitter can’t get popular without people starting to fit puzzle pieces together to see which company ought to buy them. That might be why The San Francisco Business Times picked up Wired and Industry Standard founder John Battelle’s blog entry that Twitter would go to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp for $750 million. Turns out it was an April Fool’s joke.******Then Swisher at All Things D said this:***

While the “news” that Google was in “late-stage” talks to acquire Twitter, which TechCrunch reported last night, certainly sounds exciting, it isn’t accurate in any way, according to a number of sources BoomTown spoke to close to the situation.

******She also covered herself with a “to-be-sure graf,” as hacks like me call them:***

Google or anyone else could plunk down more than $1 billion in cash and I cannot imagine Twitter’s investors would or could resist. Nor should they. And, what if, for example, Microsoft (MSFT) offered some huge cash payday for Twitter? In that case, I am certain Google would jump into the face-off, backing up a giant Brinks trunk to the door of Twitter’s San Francisco offices.

Now showing: The cable show

The big story in the media for the rest of the week is the annual National Cable Telecommunications Association Show, or “the cable show,” as its commonly called.

This year’s primary topic looks like it will be how the big, traditional operators in the business will adapt to an age when the Internet is giving people more options to watch shows, and not always in a way that feeds the bank.

Here is our own take on the show from the Reuters wire:

Both sets of companies will be brainstorming on how to cope with or benefit from disintermediation: consumers can now watch decent-quality video online whenever they want, and often for free.

Fox, New York Times sue U.S. government

The latest by-product of the financial crisis? Media lawsuits. More specifically: Government agencies deny or fail to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by media organizations, which then sue to force the government to own up.

The two latest cases are from News Corp’s Fox Business Network and The New York Times (both outlets’ complaints are pasted below). Fox sued for what it said was the government’s failure to respond to a FOIA request, filed on February 26, 2009, which sought records relating to information that the Securities and Exchange Commission received regarding the potential violations of the securities laws or any other potential wrongdoing by R. Allen Stanford, or Stanford Financial Group and its affiliates. This request included, but was not limited to, the SEC’s response to complaints, tips or information and any resulting audits, inquiries and investigations.

The Times’s complaint, filed by investigative reporter and Washington Post alum Jo Becker and her editor, chides the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept. for stalling or failing to disclose documents related to the financial crisis, including communications between some of the top dogs in the bailout program over the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP.

More work, same pay at New York Post

New York Post newsroom staff are grumbling about a new work rule that essentially pays them the same amount of money, but for more work.

Two sources told MediaFile that Rupert Murdoch’s daily tabloid has told reporters that their work week is now 40 hours long. That’s no big deal to most working stiffs, but that’s a change from the earlier 37-1/2 hours.

The upshot is that overtime pay, which once started as the clock struck 37-1/2, now doesn’t begin until 2-1/2 hours later. As many journalists know, it’s hard to break news on your beat unless you’re willing to put up with stories — and events — that happen at any time and don’t fit well into normal working hours. That said, journalists who don’t like this move say it amounts to a 6 percent pay cut because it’s more work for the same pay.

Murdoch daughter disses dad

Courtesy of Richard Siklos, Fortune’s media writer extraordinaire, who just posted this on the website on Tuesday:

“In the weeks that Rupert Murdoch was locked in unsuccessful negotiations to keep his longtime No. 2 at News Corp., the media baron also had to accept his daughter Elisabeth’s decision to turn down a spot on the company’s board, sources told Fortune.”

That’s exciting, from a soap-opera-meets-financial-news angle, because Murdoch is letting longtime right-hand man Peter Chernin leave the company, in part because the media baron has a sense of familial duty. That is to say, many people say he wants his children to take over the company. The most likely choice is his son James, 36, who is active in the company’s UK and Asian operations. Having said that, Elisabeth is no slouch in the media department.

Chernin parachutes, Murdoch keeps flying

News Corp President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin’s perks after he leaves News Corp at the end of June are basic compared with some legendary golden parachutes, though they’re still worth more money than I make in a year. Or 10 years for that matter.

In addition to his Fox studios production deal, Chernin’s creature comforts include 50 hours on News Corp’s jet ($1.65 million value), corporate car ($210,000 value) and possibly personal secretary services ($1.05 million value). See the proxy statement for more details.

That might not send the image of a cost-cutting corporate culture at a time when News Corp’s stock is down 70 percent and the bottom looks further away as its most can-do executive quits. Then again, maybe Chernin’s doing the right thing, all things considered. Check out this little-noticed excerpt from Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch’s memo to employees:

Rough day for Murdoch. Or is it?

One has to wonder what today is like for a media chief as mogul-y as Rupert Murdoch, whose

News Corp has its hands in everything from publishing and newspapers to Internet, TV and movies. Today is the first day after News Corp President and COO Peter Chernin — who has been a critical force in News Corp’s success in movies and TV — said he was planning to leave the executive suite in June to make movies.

That leaves the 77-year-old Murdoch without his well-regarded No. 2 at a time when all media players are struggling with a dramatic advertising slowdown. That’s not good, right?

Looks like Yahoo’s not buying Tumblr

Gawker/Valleywag created a bit of stir on the blogosphere Monday with its report that Yahoo was in talks to buy blogging startup Tumblr for “low to mid-eight figures,” or as much as $50 million.

From the post:

We hear the talks are serious, led by Tapan Bhat, a fast-rising executive in charge of Yahoo’s homepage and other key properties — but as with any acquisition talks, they could fall apart.

We figured Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz was too busy figuring out where Yahoo should seek growth and how to stem the leaky ship to pursue an acquisition. Sure enough, Silicon Alley Insider knocked down the Valleywag story by getting Tumblr founder David Karp on the record:

Murdoch wants newspapers, just not The New York Times

Michael Wolff, author of the recently published Rupert Murdoch tell-all, “The Man Who Owns the News,” says that the News Corp chief executive would love to buy The New York Times. The only thing standing in his way is the Ochs-Sulzberger family which controls the Times. If they’re anything like the Bancrofts, former controllers of Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, only an insane amount of money might persuade them to let go of the prized but struggling newspaper publisher.

Or maybe Murdoch himself. Whatever the scuttlebutt is about Murdoch’s plans for the Times, he told reporters on Thursday that he’s not interested in buying it. Speaking on a conference call after the company reported dismal second-quarter results, he said it might not be good for his image:

“I’ve got no desire to be an even bigger public enemy.”

This, of course, refers to the charge leveled at him from London to New York to Hong Kong that he uses the papers and other media that he owns to advance his personal business interests.

Write this down: News Corp

News Corp is many things to many people. Its latest incarnation? Pinata.

Everyone is taking a whack at Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire these days as its stock languishes and it gets ready to report second-quarter financial results on Thursday. Newspaper advertising revenue is falling, the movie season hasn’t looked so hot so far, MySpace is unlikely to friend Facebook, the euro and the pound are hurting European operations, DVDs are dying and cable networks revenue doesn’t look like it will be able to compensate.

On top of all that, people are beginning to wonder if the company will announce a writedown, and how soon. My story, which ran on Friday, says the newspaper business looks ripe for a writedown, and quotes Pali Capital analyst RIch Greenfield saying that part of the company’s problem is Murdoch’s sentimental attachment to old media:

If Murdoch wants to keep the business healthy, it is time to make “hard decisions” and prune older media like papers, Pali Capital analyst Rich Greenfield said.