February 25, 2021

21st Century Fox Has 16% Jump in Revenue on Higher Cable Fees

The entertainment arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, 21st Century Fox, on Tuesday reported a 16 percent uptick in revenue for the quarter ending in June, thanks in part to the higher subscriber fees for its cable channels.

The benefits of growing subscriber revenue were also apparent at the Fox broadcast network and the company’s owned-and-operated television stations, where retransmission fees nearly doubled against the same quarter a year earlier. Advertising totals for the stations and the Fox network as a whole were held back, however, by the decline of “American Idol.”

Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation at the end of June split into two companies — 21st Century Fox and a smaller publishing arm called News Corp. The earnings report on Tuesday reflected the performance of only 21st Century Fox. The new publishing wing has not said when it will report its earnings for the most recent quarter.

“Although a significant amount of time and effort was spent over the past 12 months on this separation, we never lost focus on the operation of our businesses,” Mr. Murdoch said in a statement that accompanied the Fox earnings report.

Net income for the 21st Century Fox side of Mr. Murdoch’s house was $977 million in the quarter that ended June 30, or 42 cents a share, up from $596 million, or 25 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

After adjustments for one-time items, earnings per share came to 31 cents.

Revenue in the quarter totaled $7.2 billion.

Cable, as always, drove the company’s growth. Subscriber fees rose 9 percent in the United States for channels like Fox News, FX and National Geographic. As is the norm for major media companies these days, growth was much more pronounced overseas. That was true for advertising sales, too: sales were up 4 percent in the United States and up 20 percent internationally.

In the Fox broadcast television unit, a 7 percent decline in ad revenue was attributed partly to “American Idol,” the popular singing competition that gave up about a third of its audience last spring.

On an earnings conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Chase Carey, the company’s president and chief operating officer, tried to reassure analysts about “Idol;” it is still a profitable show and among the five highest-rated programs on all of television, he said.

“We’ve made some steps, put new leadership directly in place,” Mr. Carey said, mentioning by name David Hill, the former Fox Sports chairman who was recently tapped to oversee “Idol” and another Fox singing series, “The X Factor.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/media/21st-century-fox-has-16-jump-in-revenue-on-higher-cable-fees.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App

For millions of readers around the world, a wildly successful free Bible app, YouVersion, is changing how, where and when they read the Bible.

Built by LifeChurch.tv, one of the nation’s largest and most technologically advanced evangelical churches, YouVersion is part of what the church calls its “digital missions.” They include a platform for online church services and prepackaged worship videos that the church distributes free. A digital tithing system and an interactive children’s Bible are in the works.

It’s all part of the church’s aspiration to be a kind of I.T. department for churches everywhere. YouVersion, with over 600 Bible translations in more than 400 languages, is by far the church’s biggest success. The app is nondenominational, including versions embraced by Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Messianic Jews. This month, the app reached 100 million downloads, placing it in the company of technology start-ups like Instagram and Dropbox.

“They have defined what it means to access God’s word on a mobile device,” said Geoff Dennis, an executive vice president of Crossway, one of many Bible publishers — from small presses to global Bible societies to News Corporation’s Thomas Nelson imprint — that have licensed their translations, free, to the church.

When Jen Sears, 37, a human resources manager in Oklahoma City, wants to pray these days, she leaves her Bible behind and grabs her phone instead.

“I have my print Bible sitting on my dresser at home, but it hasn’t moved” in the four years since she downloaded YouVersion, Mrs. Sears said.

The app, marketed simply as “The Bible,” has brought new donors to LifeChurch.tv. About $3 million was given by a handful of large donors to support development of the app last year; the church raised nearly $60 million over all, according to its financial statements. The church says it will have spent almost $20 million over all on YouVersion by the end of this year.

The church was founded in 1996 by a team consisting mostly of former business executives. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, a wider association of 850 congregations, which gives its members wide latitude in their operations. It has 50,000 weekly attendees in 16 locations.

The Gutenberg behind YouVersion is the church’s 36-year-old “innovation pastor,” Bobby Gruenewald, whose training was in business, not religion.

Mr. Gruenewald grew up in Decatur, Ill., in an evangelical church, where as a teenager he started a Christian rap ministry. Later, he moved to Oklahoma to join his sixth-grade crush, now his wife, who left Illinois to study at Southern Nazarene University.

Here at the church’s headquarters, Mr. Gruenewald wears the same tennis shoes, slouchy jeans and T-shirts that suited him as a Christian rapper and small-time entrepreneur who bluffed his way into building Web sites, then ran a Web hosting company out of his dorm room and later sold a pro-wrestling fan Web site for $7 million.

He joined LifeChurch.tv in 2001 after playing keyboard in its house band. Since then, the church has allowed him to experiment without an eye to profit.

Mr. Gruenewald’s early efforts for LifeChurch.tv included a virtual church for the online Second Life community and a Google ad campaign to lure pornography consumers to the church instead. But then he had a critical insight: if the church wanted to attract younger people, it needed both to be technically advanced and to offer its resources free.

“We have a generation of people that can’t fathom paying 99 cents for a song that they love,” Mr. Gruenewald said, “and we were asking them to pay $20 for a book that they don’t understand.”

He made YouVersion available in 2008, as the first Bible in Apple’s App Store. That early release contained only a few translations, like the King James Version, mostly in the public domain. When he began trying to persuade traditional Bible publishers to enter licensing arrangements with him, he encountered suspicion.

“People would say: ‘If people read it on YouVersion and they’re not paying anything for it, what’s going to happen to my pew Bibles?’ ” said Mr. Dennis of Crossway. “‘What’s going to happen to the thinline Bible that people carry to church?’”

Adam Graber of Tyndale House, another publisher that provides translations for the app, expressed some reservations about YouVersion’s strong position in the market for Bible apps.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/27/technology/the-faithful-embrace-youversion-a-bible-app.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Tribune Co. to Split in Two

Ending months of speculation, the Tribune Company announced on Wednesday that it would spin off its newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, into a separate division called Tribune Publishing Company. Its broadcasting properties would remain together with other assets in the Tribune Company.

The move mirrors one by News Corporation, which late last month formally separated its newspapers into a new company. The common motivation is an effort to separate high-value, high-return entertainment and television assets from newspapers, which face a difficult operating environment that has dragged down earnings.

The Tribune Company, which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2012, signaled last week that it saw a bright future in broadcasting when it purchased 19 television stations in 16 markets, bringing its total number of television stations to 42 and giving the company a large footprint in the local TV business.

Some initial efforts to sell the newspapers were hampered by significant tax implications – given that the newspapers are mature businesses, the taxes on a sale of all the prosperities could reach well over $100 million. The company has interests in large digital assets, CareerBuilder.com and Classified Ventures, that include publishing arrangements with the newspapers that would have been invalidated by a sale. The broadcast entity, which will continue to be called the Tribune Company, will retain those assets, but the agreements will remain in place.

The spinoff does not preclude a sale of any or all of the newspapers, the company said, and executives are hoping that the announcement stirs interest in some of the properties and perhaps a greater willingness to shoulder some of the tax implications.

In a news release early Wednesday, Peter Liguori, chief executive of the company, said that each division would be able to operate independently.

“The two companies resulting from this transaction would each have revenues in excess of $1 billion and significant operating cash flow,” Mr. Liguori said. “We expect that this transaction will serve our shareholders and employees well, and put these businesses in a strong position for continued success.”

The split, like News Corporation’s, is expected to take months and is subject to some regulatory approvals. Each of the new entities will have its own board of directors and senior management team.

The company had retained Evercore Partners with an eye toward selling the newspapers, but the financial deal books that generally precede a sale had yet to go out, leading to speculation that an outright sale was complicated business proposition in the near term.

In addition, Mr. Liguori, an executive with a long history in broadcasting, has shown an increasing interest in the operational aspects of newspapers, indicating the company would likely not be selling them off wholesale. The split will give Tribune Company time to shop the newspapers over a longer time frame.

What had been envisioned as a straight-up auction of storied but troubled newspapers has been complicated by a business environment that is depressing values for newspaper properties, most remarkably large regional dailies that have been hit especially hard by changes in advertiser and consumer behavior. In October, The Tampa Tribune sold for a scant $9.5 million dollars; the Philadelphia newspapers sold for $55 million in April 2012 after fetching $515 million in 2006.

Still, several people or groups of people have expressed interests in the Tribune Company’s newspapers, which have been valued at roughly $623 million and also include The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. Charles and David Koch, the conservative billionaires, are among the most prominent potential bidders. Aaron Kushner, the owner of The Orange County Register, said last December that he was looking at the properties, and Douglas Manchester, owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, has expressed interest in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., one of the smaller newspapers in the chain.

According to Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst, publishing revenue at the company has dropped 51 percent between 2005 and 2011, mirroring the halving of revenue in the rest of the industry. The properties have suffered deep editorial cuts and a loss of luster after a debt-laden purchase of the newspapers by Sam Zell in 2007.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/business/media/tribune-co-to-split-in-two.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Tribune to Split in 2, Spinning Off Its Newspapers

Ending months of speculation, the Tribune Company announced on Wednesday that it would spin off its newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, into a separate division called Tribune Publishing Company. Its broadcasting properties will remain together with other assets in the Tribune Company.

The move mirrors one by News Corporation, which late last month formally separated its newspapers into a new company. The common motivation is an effort to separate high-value, high-return entertainment and television assets from newspapers, which face a difficult operating environment that has dragged down earnings.

The Tribune Company, which emerged from bankruptcy at the end of 2012, signaled last week that it was shifting its emphasis toward television when it purchased 19 stations in 16 markets, bringing its total number of television stations to 42 and giving the company a large footprint in the local TV business.

At the same time, the company has been exploring the sale of some or all of its newspapers. Initial efforts to sell have proceeded slowly, and a bidding process that was supposed to have begun by now has not. Speaking to investors after announcing the television acquisition last week, Peter Liguori, Tribune’s chief executive, said the company was still considering “all of our strategic options’’ regarding the newspapers.

One potential holdup on a sale is the tax implications; given that the newspapers are a mature business, the taxes on a sale of all the properties could reach well over $100 million.

The spinoff announced Wednesday does not preclude a sale of any or all of the newspapers, the company said, and executives are hoping that the announcement stirs interest in some of the properties and perhaps a greater willingness to shoulder some of the tax implications.

The company has interests in large digital assets like CareerBuilder.com and Classified Ventures that include publishing arrangements with the newspapers that would have been invalidated by a sale. The broadcast entity, which will continue to be called the Tribune Company, will retain those assets, but the agreements will remain in place.

In a news release early Wednesday, Mr. Liguori said that each division would be able to operate independently. Each of the new entities will have its own board and senior management team.

“The two companies resulting from this transaction would each have revenues in excess of $1 billion and significant operating cash flow,” Mr. Liguori said. “We expect that this transaction will serve our shareholders and employees well, and put these businesses in a strong position for continued success.”

The split, like News Corporation’s, is expected to take months and is subject to some regulatory approvals.

The company retained Evercore Partners with an eye toward selling the newspapers, but the financial deal books that generally precede a sale have yet to go out, leading to speculation that an outright sale would be a complicated business proposition in the near term.

In addition, Mr. Liguori, an executive with a long history in broadcasting, has shown an increasing interest in the operational aspects of newspapers, indicating the company will probably not be selling them off wholesale. The split will give Tribune Company time to shop the newspapers over a longer time frame.

What had been envisioned as a straight-up auction of storied but troubled newspapers has been complicated by a business environment that is depressing values for newspaper properties, most remarkably large regional dailies, which have been hit especially hard by changes in advertiser and consumer behavior. In October, The Tampa Tribune sold for a scant $9.5 million; the Philadelphia newspapers sold for $55 million in April 2012 after fetching $515 million in 2006.

Still, several people or groups of people have expressed interests in the Tribune Company’s newspapers, which have been valued at roughly $623 million and also include The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant. Charles and David Koch, the conservative billionaires, are among the most prominent potential bidders. Aaron Kushner, the owner of The Orange County Register, said last December that he was looking at the properties, and Douglas Manchester, owner of The San Diego Union-Tribune, has expressed interest in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., one of the smaller newspapers in the chain.

According to Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst, publishing revenue at the company has dropped 51 percent between 2005 and 2011, mirroring the halving of revenue in the rest of the industry. The properties have suffered deep editorial cuts and a loss of luster after a debt-laden purchase of the newspapers by Sam Zell in 2007.

In a note to staff members, Mr. Liguori wrote: “For employees, stronger businesses mean more and better opportunities and the chance to have a more direct impact on the company’s performance. A company that is growing and succeeding on its own merits has a surer, clearer path forward, built on the ability to invest in and shape its own future.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/business/media/tribune-co-to-split-in-two.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Media Equation: For Media Moguls, Paydays That Outstrip Other Fields

Leaders in other industries may be well paid, but as the accompanying chart shows, they earn far less than their media counterparts.

Consider: the top 20 companies in the United States ranked by market capitalization include no media companies. But according to figures assembled for The New York Times by Equilar, which compiles data on executive compensation, media companies employ seven of the top 20 highest paid chief executives.

The names are familiar and the numbers are large: Leslie Moonves of CBS ($60,253,647), David M. Zaslav of Discovery Communications ($49,932,867), Robert A. Iger of Walt Disney ($37,103,208), Philippe P. Dauman of Viacom ($33,396,104), Jeffrey L. Bewkes of Time Warner ($25,670,263), Brian L. Roberts of Comcast ($25,087,379), and Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation ($22,418,292).

Mr. Moonves was the third highest paid executive in 2012, bested by Larry Ellison, who made $96.2 million as head of Oracle, and Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard, whose recently announced compensation came to $64.9 million, although much of it is in the form of stock options that vest over five years.

(Activision produces video games like Call of Duty, so depending on how you define media, he might be the highest paid in the industry.)

Mr. Moonves may be in a league of his own, but he is hardly the only chief executive banking hefty compensation. The data indicates that average pay of the 10 highest paid chief executives for media companies was about $30 million, more than the captains of technology or finance and other industries, who average $6 million to $14 million less.

Median pay for the top 20 media executives rose 10 percent in 2012, adding to a very tall stack. Not bad for a legacy industry that is supposedly under sustained attack from insurgents and secular challenges.

Many media companies file their proxy statements at the last possible minute, perhaps part of an effort to avoid ending up on annual surveys of executive compensation, like the one The Times did at the beginning of April. But now that everyone is accounted for, it’s clear that being a king in the media realm comes with a very lucrative crown.

A few important caveats. The margins in the media business can be spectacular when things are going well — operating income at CBS for 2012 was $2.98 billion — which explains in part why the chief executive at Kraft, which is about the same size as CBS and had net earnings of $1.64 billion, makes $6.8 million, not $60 million like Mr. Moonves. Making cheese is fine, but running a media outfit that sells cheese through commercials is where the money is.

Clearly, the market had a crush on media stocks last year. The stock price of CBS rose 42 percent in 2012 while Mr. Zaslav oversaw a 55 percent rise at Discovery. Corporate boards have employment agreements that are usually generous when the arrows on the charts are pointing sharply upward.

“David’s compensation is almost entirely tied to stock appreciation,” said David C. Leavy, a spokesman at Discovery. “With the market continuing to value Discovery’s global growth prospectives, there has been tremendous value creation for shareholders.”

Media companies are prospering by selling their content through all kinds of windows with some raking in cable and retransmission fees that just keep growing. Most major players drove their stock price up 30 percent or more, partly because of excellent results and generous stock buybacks. As might be expected, the vast majority of the compensation comes in the form of performance incentives, as opposed to salary. (Although some of those incentives are very generously structured.)

And it would be churlish to suggest that running a huge company in an industry full of big bets, big egos and big challenges is simple. The media business requires mastering various platforms, multiple divas and, increasingly, myriad foreign markets.

But approving the right projects while monetizing those assets through various channels of distribution is not akin to creating a hardware market, as Apple did, or reinventing the advertising model, as Google has. An average annual compensation of $30 million seems like an entrepreneurial reward being paid out for management execution.

The compensation numbers can add up quickly, especially in an industry that is madly spinning off divisions. Companies may get smaller as they are split into discrete units — Viacom and CBS are two halves of what used to be one orange, as are Time Warner and Time Warner Cable — but the payouts continue to storm along.

E-mail: carr@nytimes.com;

twitter.com/carr2n

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/06/business/media/for-media-moguls-paydays-that-outstrip-other-fields.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Dell Products Make Their Way, Circuitously, to Syria

The disclosure of the computer sales is the latest example of how the Syrian government has managed to acquire technology, some of which is used to censor Internet activity and track opponents of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.

According to internal company e-mails, cash transfer statements, sales receipts and shipping documents, the computer equipment was sold by BDL Gulf, an authorized dealer for Dell in the Middle East and Africa. The company is owned by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family, who is listed by Forbes magazine as the 26th-richest person in the world, with an estimated worth of $20 billion.

Prince Alwaleed, who owns large stakes in Apple, News Corporation and Citigroup, did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

BDL sold the equipment to Anas Hasoon Trading, a Damascus-based company with contracts to provide computers to the Syrian government, according to billings records and e-mail exchanges between the companies.

Jess Blackburn, a spokesman for Dell in Round Rock, Tex., confirmed that BDL was a authorized reseller. He said the company was recently made aware of a possible shipment of Dell equipment to Syria by an anonymous source.

“We are investigating an allegation we received recently that BDL was involved in a possible transaction involving Syria,” Mr. Blackburn said in a statement. “Dell requires its resellers to follow U.S. trade requirements, just as Dell does. Resellers of Dell products and services are contractually prohibited from selling or shipping any technology to a customer in a restricted country.”

The United States has barred the sales of most American-made goods to Syria for nearly a decade and has repeatedly tightened sanctions against the government. An executive order by President Obama, dated April 22, 2012, specifically addresses the sale of computer technology to Syria, barring Americans from helping the Iranian and Syrian governments engage in human rights abuses, including monitoring and tracking of dissidents.

United States officials charged with enforcing sanctions against Syria would not comment on the possible violation of export sanction laws, but did say that it was illegal to export technology to Syria unless the sale would promote the free flow of information between the Syrian people and the outside world.

Asked about the evidence of shipments to Syria, a manager at BDL said the company had hundreds of customers and did not keep track of their location.

“We cannot know if they are from Pakistan, Egypt or Morocco; we just sell in Dubai,” said RamaNarayan Singh, who is listed as BDL’s sales manager for the United Arab Emirates, Africa and Iran. “I’m just an employee doing my duty. I don’t know if a company is from Syria.”

But e-mails between Mr. Singh and a representative from Anas Hasoon Trading show that the Syrian company made it clear to him that it was working on behalf of the Assad government. Mr. Singh signed several invoices that listed a Syrian address for the trading company. Mr. Singh said he did not recall the e-mails or the invoices.

The records, which were provided to The Times by an individual who was briefed on the transactions, showed that BDL sold hundreds of laptops, tablets and desktop computers to the Syrian company.

In e-mails sent between Mr. Singh and Yahya Rifai, who was listed a purchasing manager for the Anas Hasoon Trading company, Mr. Rifai mentioned several times that he was working to buy the computers for the Syrian government.

The companies dealt mainly in cash, records showed, after transfers from Syrian banks to banks in Dubai were rejected because of financial sanctions against the country.

In an e-mail to Mr. Singh dated Sept. 2, 2012, Mr. Rifai wrote about his difficulties in using bank transfers to pay for the computers because of the sanctions.

“Dear Ram, my problem is how to get money from Syria to you? As you know I’m working on tenders deals with the government which required many documents and approvals!!” he wrote.

“Try please do not worry,” Mr. Singh wrote in response. “I will support you whatever best for you.”

Barred by banks from making electronic transfers, Mr. Rifai made several large cash deposits into the bank account of BDL to purchase the computers, the documents show. Asked last month about the purchases, Mr. Rifai responded in an e-mail: “We are Syrian company so we don’t care about the rules America put, its only for American companies not us.”

Last year, the Syrian government made similar purchases of computer equipment from a reseller of Hewlett-Packard. The equipment, according to various news reports, was used to monitor the e-mail and Internet use of opposition forces. Hewlett-Packard said its computers were sold without its knowledge.

In 2011, Internet-blocking devices from Blue Coat Systems, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., were shipped to Syria by a Dubai-based distributor. Executives at Blue Coat said they believed the equipment was being sold to the Iraqi government.

“It’s a pattern that we’ve seen across the Middle East from governments trying to avoid democratic changes — using proxies to bypass sanctions and buy equipment to stifle dissent and track Internet activity,” said Charles Dunne, a former National Security Council official and director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Freedom House, a Washington nonprofit group that promotes democratic change. “The U.S. government and companies need to do a better job of making sure this equipment does not end up in the hands of governments like the Assad regime.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/technology/dell-products-make-their-way-circuitously-to-syria.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hulu Says Number of Paid Subscribers Has Doubled

Hulu, the online video Web site that has both free and paid services, said Tuesday that it had doubled its number of paying subscribers in the last year, to four million.

The announcement comes at an uncertain time for Hulu, as two of its owners, the Walt Disney Company and News Corporation, weigh whether to sell the company. Last month, the founding chief executive of Hulu, Jason Kilar, stepped down; one of his top lieutenants, Andy Forssell, is now the acting chief executive.

Hulu was not expected to say anything new about its ownership structure at a Tuesday morning event for advertisers in New York. The event, part of the Digital Content NewFronts this week, was set up to promote several original series that will premiere on Hulu this year.

Among the shows that will be distributed exclusively by Hulu are “Quick Draw,’’ a comedic Western set in 1870s Kansas, and “The Awesomes,” an animated series about superheroes from the minds of the “Saturday Night Live” star Seth Meyers and the “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” producer Michael Shoemaker. They are the third wave of original shows for the service, and the most ambitious to date. The first wave, in 2011, was led by the Morgan Spurlock documentary series “A Day In The Life;” the second, in 2012, included a political sitcom called “Battleground” and a travelogue by Richard Linklater called “Up to Speed.”

That said, Hulu’s most popular shows remain those that it licenses from their owners and from other media companies. Hulu says it has more than 470 such partners and more than 70,000 full television episodes on its free and paid services combined.

Content costs are rising as the online television marketplace becomes more competitive; last week, Yahoo snapped up the exclusive rights to old clips from “Saturday Night Live,” something that Hulu used to feature on its own site.

In this crowded environment, commissioning shows is one way to stand out. Hulu has been in the news this week because it is one of only two places to watch “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” the canceled ABC soap operas that were resurrected online by a production company, Prospect Park. The other outlet for the shows is Apple’s iTunes store.

Along with “The Awesomes” and “Quick Draw,” Hulu’s other two original series this year are “Behind the Mask,” a documentary series about sports mascots, and “The Wrong Mans,” a drama about two innocent men tied up in a criminal conspiracy. “The Wrong Mans” is a coproduction of the BBC and Hulu.

At the advertiser event on Tuesday, Hulu will also promote a number of shows that have been televised in other countries, but are exclusive to Hulu in the United States. They include an animated series from Canada called “Mother Up!” as well as “Prisoners of War,” an Israeli drama that inspired Showtime’s “Homeland.”

The company will also describe several ideas for original shows that are “brand contingent,” meaning they will be made only if advertisers sign up to support them. One of these ideas involves the chef Mario Batali in conversation with celebrities; another is a performance series to be hosted by Carson Daly.

In addition to announcing that its paid service, Hulu Plus, had topped four million subscribers for the first time, up from two million in the previous year, Hulu said it had reached a new revenue record in the first quarter, but did not specify what that record was. In 2012, according to the company, it earned $695 million in revenue, up from approximately $420 million in 2011.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/01/business/media/hulu-says-it-has-4-million-paid-subscribers-double-last-years-total.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

News Corp. in $139 Million Settlement With Shareholders

The group had asserted that News Corporation’s board — led by Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive — breached its fiduciary responsibility in handling the crisis in Britain.

The lawsuit also asserted that the company unethically paid $670 million in 2011 to acquire the Shine Group, the television production company of Mr. Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch.

The suit was filed by Amalgamated Bank, the largest union-owned bank in the United States, which handles large-scale labor and pension funds.

News Corporation will not pay any of the $139 million settlement. Rather, the company will receive a payment from insurance that protects corporate boards from this type of litigation.

“We are proud of this historic settlement,” Edward Grebow, president and chief executive of Amalgamated Bank, said in a statement. The bank’s Longview Funds hold 455,343 Class A common shares of News Corporation.

News Corporation indicated that the settlement would move it one step closer toward distancing itself from the hacking imbroglio that erupted in 2011. “We are pleased to have resolved this matter,” News Corporation said in a statement.

“The agreement reflects the important steps News Corporation has taken over the last year to strengthen our corporate governance and compliance structure,” the statement added.

News Corporation has invested in building a compliance structure that will appease the Justice Department ahead of a meeting later this month to discuss phone hacking and bribery at its British papers.

In late June, the company is expected to split off its publishing assets — including its British newspaper arm — into a separate, publicly traded company. Entertainment and television assets like Fox Broadcasting and Fox News will form a separate company called 21st Century Fox.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/business/media/news-corp-agrees-to-139-million-settlement-with-shareholders.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Discovery Expands Its Reach Overseas to Ensure Growth

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the reality show on TLC in the United States, has become an unlikely hit in Brazil and dozens of other countries where it is broadcast on some of TLC’s 150 international channels. To help explain its particularly American milieu and language, the episodes come with a glossary of common terms: “concurso de brillo” in Spanish for “glitz pageants”; “gorduchéte” in Portuguese for “chubette.”

The series and its popularity overseas are just one aspect of Discovery’s growing international business. The company, based in Silver Spring, Md., owns 14 domestic cable channels including Discovery, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network and Animal Planet, but its executives see growth coming from places like Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

“We don’t see ourselves as a domestic media company,” said David M. Zaslav, Discovery Communications’ president and chief executive, in a phone interview from Moscow, where he was visiting with the company’s 32 local employees. (The week before, he had business meetings in Paris, Switzerland and Belgium.)

Discovery’s strategy signals how the cable television business in the United States is maturing. With a proliferation of channels competing for a diminished number of total viewers, media companies have looked elsewhere for growth.

Last year, News Corporation paid $335 million to complete its acquisition of the Singapore-based ESPN Star Sports, previously a joint venture with the Walt Disney Company. Viacom has in recent years expanded its footprint in Russia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. In India, the company owns Colors, a Hindi-language general entertainment pay TV channel.

“You have many markets with substantial G.D.P. growth ahead of them and multichannel infrastructure growth,” Robert M. Bakish, president and chief executive of Viacom International Media Networks, said in an interview last year. “TV in the U.S. is pretty well saturated.”

Discovery has channels in 217 countries and territories in 45 languages as well as 1.3 billion subscribers outside the United States. In the six years since Mr. Zaslav took over as chief executive in 2007, the company has grown from making around $720 million in total profits, with roughly $120 million coming from overseas, to making $721 million just from its international business, or 34 percent of its total profit of $2.1 billion, in the fiscal year that ended Dec. 31.

In the coming weeks, Discovery is expected to close its biggest deal yet: a $1.7 billion acquisition of SBS Nordic, a Scandinavian programmer that includes 12 television networks, radio stations and digital assets in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The SBS deal came around the time Discovery agreed to pay about $240 million for a 20 percent stake in Eurosport, a Pan-European cable sports channel that broadcasts tennis, cycling and cross-country skiing and other sports in 59 countries, and other pay television assets owned by the French media company TF1 Group. The transaction gives Discovery the chance to take majority ownership of Eurosport in two years.

After the SBS acquisition closes, more than 40 percent of Discovery’s business will come from abroad, making the company the biggest among its competitors in the international cable television business. On Thursday, Discovery will hold its annual upfront presentation to unveil its business and programming plans to advertisers and reporters.

Thirty-eight percent of Discovery’s revenue last year came from its international business, compared with 44 percent for News Corporation, 29 percent for Viacom and 28 percent for Time Warner, according to Wall Street estimates in Discovery’s latest investor presentation.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/business/media/discovery-expands-its-reach-overseas-to-ensure-growth.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Hulu Names an Acting Chief Executive

The online video Web site Hulu, in a state of flux as its owners decide what to do with it, said Thursday that the person in charge of content for the site, Andy Forssell, would become its acting chief executive.

Mr. Forssell will succeed Jason Kilar, at least temporarily. Mr. Kilar, the founding chief executive of Hulu, said in January that he would step down by the end of March. He reaffirmed that plan in a message to Hulu employees on Thursday. Mr. Kilar hasn’t said whether he is taking a new job elsewhere.

The message to employees, subsequently published on the Hulu Web site, tacitly confirmed that the active owners of Hulu, the Walt Disney Company and News Corporation, are contemplating a change to the ownership structure of the company.

“Disney and News Corporation are currently finalizing their forward-looking plans with Hulu, and the senior team has been working closely with them in that process,” Mr. Kilar wrote. “Once the plans are finalized, a permanent decision will be made regarding the C.E.O. position.”

Comcast also owns part of Hulu, through its 2011 acquisition of NBC, but it gave up NBC’s management role of the site at that time. So it’s up to Disney and News Corporation to decide what to do. One of the companies may opt to buy out the other owners’ shares. Or Disney and News Corporation may choose to sell Hulu to a different company. Mr. Kilar did not indicate when a change could take place.

But until it does, Mr. Forssell will be in charge. He has been at Hulu since the beginning, and he is currently the senior vice president of content, meaning that he oversees relationships with networks like ABC and Fox and manages the acquisition of original video for the site.

Mr. Kilar said in his message that Hulu’s focus “remains on delivering a fantastic 2013 for customers and shareholders” and indicated that records for revenue and subscriber additions would be set in the first quarter of the year, despite the owner uncertainty.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/15/hulu-names-an-acting-chief-executive/?partner=rss&emc=rss