Robert's Feed
Nov 10, 2009

Eager fans greet “Call of Duty” video game launch

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Activision Blizzard Inc’s hugely anticipated “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ video game went on sale on Tuesday, welcomed by eager fans who lined up hours in advance of the release.

The first-person shooter game is set to be one of the biggest and fastest-selling titles in history, challenging records set by blockbuster releases from the “Grand Theft Auto” series.

Nov 6, 2009

U.S. government likely to keep media rules strict

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Newspaper publishers and other struggling media companies want the U.S. government to help them survive the toughest times they have ever known, mainly by easing rules on how big they can get.

They will be lucky if they get any aid at all.

The Federal Communications Commission held meetings this week with policy experts and consumer groups to see if it should change rules that define how many people newspapers, television and radio stations can reach and that limit their size to protect free speech and allow for healthy competition.

Nov 5, 2009
via MediaFile

Talking with Thomson Reuters chief about print

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Covering Thomson Reuters Corp for almost two years has taught me that people like to cast my company in a recurring role in media deal parlor games. Now that the company’s arch-rival Bloomberg LP will buy BusinessWeek magazine from McGraw-Hill, lots of my pals in the media world are wondering: Will Thomson Reuters buy a mainstream news or business news magazine? Or newspaper? Why not Forbes? Why not the Financial Times?Keep in mind that Thomson Reuters likes to remind people when they ask these questions that Thomson Corp, before buying Reuters, got out of its Canadian newspaper empire for a reason. (See below)I asked our chief executive, Tom Glocer, a question along these lines on a Thursday phone call he had with reporters to discuss the company’s third-quarter financial results.Here is what he said:

Thomson did a remarkable job, far earlier than any other company I know, of seeing what was coming and transitioning their business out of print for the most part… I don’t see any particular time or reason at this juncture why we should go the other way.

Later on Thursday, when I interviewed Glocer, we returned to this theme. (I can’t help it, I’m a print guy.) I used the Financial Times, owned by Pearson Plc and beloved of its CEO, Dame Marjorie Scardino, as a sample target:Here is Glocer’s reply:

When I came to London, Marjorie was famous for saying she would never sell the FT, or it would go “over my dead body.” There were many years in which the FT had fallen on harder times when people held that up as well: Marjorie has to go before the FT.

Nov 5, 2009

Thomson Reuters CEO says worst over

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp <TRI.TO> <TRI.N> reported that quarterly revenue in its markets and legal businesses fell as customers cut costs in the wake of the financial crisis, but its CEO said the worst was over.

The news and financial data publisher, whose shares fell about 1 percent, said on Thursday that third-quarter profit beat Wall Street estimates, helped by foreign currency rates and cost savings.

Nov 5, 2009

News Corp, Time Warner helped by movies, cable

NEW YORK (Reuters) – News Corp and Time Warner Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit as movie studios and cable network gains helped offset declines at their newspaper and magazine units.

Both News Corp and Time Warner, which have been cutting costs to keep ahead of falling revenue, raised their forecasts, and News Corp Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said he expected 2010 to be a year of stability.

Nov 4, 2009

News Corp profit better than expected, shares up

NEW YORK (Reuters) – News Corp reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as gains at its Fox cable network and film divisions, plus cost cuts, helped offset declines at its television stations and newspapers.

Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said he expected 2010 to be a year of stability and the company forecast its fiscal full- year operating income would grow in the high single to low double-digit percentage range.

Oct 30, 2009

Washington Post profit rises, newspaper ads fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Washington Post Co posted a higher quarterly profit and a 2 percent increase in revenue on Friday on strength in its education and cable television units, while print advertising revenue at its flagship newspaper fell 28 percent.

Like the Post. most U.S. newspaper publishers, including The New York Times Co, McClatchy Co and Gannett Co Inc, have been reporting declining ad revenue.

Oct 29, 2009

Wall Street Journal closes Boston bureau

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Wall Street Journal will close its Boston bureau to save money, and shift coverage of the mutual fund industry to its money and investing reporting team, the newspaper’s editor said on Thursday.

“The economic background is painfully obvious to us all,” Journal Managing Editor Robert Thomson told the paper’s employees in a memo. “That there has been truly great reporting… out of Boston over many, many years is not in doubt. But we remain in the midst of a profound downturn in advertising revenue and thus must think the unthinkable.”

Oct 27, 2009
via MediaFile

MySpace: Be ready to read this story twice

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MySpace, the online social network (can we still call it that now that it has ducked out of the Facebook/Twitter competition?), appears to be pursuing what I’ll call the “two-pronged news strategy.” You get used to it when you cover media and technology. For those of you who don’t enjoy this privilege, it goes like this:

    Pick a news outlet that you like and whisper things to them about what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be interesting, it just has to be exclusive. If you’re in public relations, you don’t even have to know that someone in your company is doing this. It works well for you. Let the rest of the press read the story and bombard your telephone and e-mail with messages demanding to know if it’s true. Score a big hit on the news cycle. Because you either decline to comment or only want to talk “on background,” it heightens the air of mystery — and newsworthiness. The official announcement of the news, which will always resemble 90 percent or more of what you read in the first round of anonymously sourced stories, will get just as much attention as that first round. It’s a 2-for-1 deal that is irresistible to many companies.

I don’t know that MySpace is doing this, and wouldn’t be able to confirm it if I asked. It could just be that the reporters who get the breaking news have great sources and the reporter asked smart questions that would yield good answers. I’ll let you judge.The first example comes from Kara Swisher, tech blogger at AllThingsD, which is MySpace’s cousin in the News Corp family. She reports:

Microsoft’s MSN is in preliminary talks with MySpace about using the social networking site’s music service, MySpace Music, to help power music offerings on the giant portal. …

Sources said Microsoft execs don’t think they can do as good a job as MySpace is doing and don’t see the point in striking needed but complex deals with music labels, which the News Corp. (NWS) property already has.

Oct 26, 2009
via MediaFile

Tribune365, thinking beyond newspaper circulation

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Monday’s newspaper circulation numbers please no one who makes their living from selling papers. That’s evident when you look at the top 25 dailies by circulation and see that the best performance came from The Wall Street Journal, which rose less than 1 percent. Considering that advertisers use these numbers to determine where to spend their money, there is little reason to rejoice.Tribune Co’s two largest papers, the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, both posted steep declines on Monday, but the company is urging advertisers to look beyond numbers that it considers less relevant than they were before the Internet. Instead, it wants them to look at how many people they can reach through Tribune’s diverse lineup of papers, websites and television stations.To make this easier, Tribune has started “Tribune365,” a “multichannel sales solutions group providing customized marketing programs to advertisers looking to reach consumers across a variety of media platforms.” (More on what this means — in English — below.)“We want to change the conversation around both how we sell and how people perceive newspapers.” Print circulation,” said Vincent Casanova, Tribune’s senior vp of publishing operations “just doesn’t tell the whole story… The objective is to change the conversation from a narrow look at topline circulation results to a broader discussion of the power of newspaper advertising and how to deliver results.”For Tribune365, that means no longer selling ads to national buyers through a bunch of different sales teams that sell different kinds of ads for this or that part of a paper or this or that part of a website or TV station.Tribune365 President Don Meek cited a recent ad campaign for big-box retailer Target, which set up one of a 16,000 square-foot “pop-up store” in Chicago (Those are the temporary stores that spring up in cities for a few days at a time, sell a bunch of stuff, and move on):”We were able to put together an integrated program on WGN, WGN-TV, the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, Hoy… The only thing we couldn’t deliver was the outdoor bus shelter advertising on Michigan Avenue. Not only were we able to provide real estate and promotional support, it was also a fully integrated ad program. They said it was one of the most popular programs that they ever did.”Here’s another thing that ought to appeal to advertisers, thanks to AdAge’s article on Monday that includes a section on Tribune365:

Big newspaper companies are also looking at putting all their data about their readers, in print and online, to work for marketers. Tribune’s new Tribune365 unit is planning to introduce a universal registration system for all Tribune sites this year, with universal registration for mobile visitors in 2010. “We are getting such a fine degree of detail in terms of targeting that we will eventually be able to target a physical product to a household address, a digital product to the digital user in that household and a mobile product to the mobile user in that household,” said Don Meek, president of Tribune365.

That kind of project, of course, benefits from the biggest possible audience of registrants, something that charging for even unique, niche content could undermine. Mr. Meek declined to discuss prospects for pay plans at Tribune. “We’re going to try a lot of different things,” he said. “Which ones ultimately prevail, it’s too soon to tell.”