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Roger Ailes Resigns as Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman Fox Television Stations 

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Rupert Murdoch to Assume Role of Chairman and Acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network

New York, NY – July 21, 2016 – 21st Century Fox today announced that Roger Ailes, Chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and Chairman of Fox Television Stations, has resigned from his role effective immediately.

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Rupert Murdoch will assume the role of Chairman and acting CEO of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman, 21st Century Fox, said:

“Roger Ailes has made a remarkable contribution to our company and our country.  Roger shared my vision of a great and independent television organization and executed it brilliantly over 20 great years.

Fox News has given voice to those who were ignored by the traditional networks and has been one of the great commercial success stories of modern media.

It is always difficult to create a channel or a publication from the ground up and against seemingly entrenched monopolies.  To lead a flourishing news channel, and to build Fox Business, Roger has defied the odds.

His grasp of policy and his ability to make profoundly important issues accessible to a broader audience stand in stark contrast to the self-serving elitism that characterizes far too much of the media.

I am personally committed to ensuring that Fox News remains a distinctive, powerful voice.  Our nation needs a robust Fox News to resonate from every corner of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm Sentenced to 8 Months in Prison

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Former Staten Island rep pleaded guilty to tax fraud last year

Rebecca Davis O’Brien reports: Former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who pleaded guilty last year to tax fraud, was sentenced Friday to eight months in prison and one year of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen issued the sentence in federal court in Brooklyn Friday morning. Mr. Grimm, a Staten Island Republican, is scheduled to surrender Sept. 10.

Mr. Grimm was charged in April 2014 in a 20-count indictment that alleged he schemed to hide more than $1 million in earnings and employees’ wages at a Manhattan restaurant he ran before becoming a congressman in 2011. The charges stemmed from a probe into Mr. Grimm’s campaign financing.

In December, Mr. Grimm admitted that he had underreported to federal and state tax authorities what the restaurant, Healthalicious, earned between 2007 and 2010, court records show. He also admitted using a portion of the underreported receipts to pay employees off the books. Read the rest of this entry »


Fred Schwarz on Conservative and Liberal Views of the Constitution: ‘Rules vs Tools’

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“Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect.”

Fred Schwarz writes:

…Progressives (or technocrats) act as if the Constitution had a hidden clause: “The purpose of this document is to promote equality and fairness, and every part of it must be interpreted in accordance with that goal.” We’ve all heard the story about the time Learned Hand, after lunch with Oliver Wendell Holmes, said in parting, “Do justice, sir,” to which Holmes shook his head and replied, “My job is to apply the law.” This story would bewilder a modern progressive, to whom those are just two slightly different ways of saying, “Enact progressive social policy.

And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.”

I wrote in a book review once that the basic distinction between Right and Left when it comes to the Constitution is “rules vs. tools”: Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect. And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.

[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

It’s not so much a matter of ends justifying means as of ends creating means: If a given interpretation will lead to “social justice,” that in itself makes the interpretation correct. This principle turns the 14th Amendment into a Swiss Army knife and the Commerce Clause into a roll of duct tape.  Read the rest of this entry »


Brian Lowry: Rupert Murdoch History: Fox Head Was the Original Disruptor

***EXCLUSIVE*** Portrait of Rupert Murdoch, international media executive, January 31, 1977 in New York City. (Photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images) writes: “Disruptive technology” has become one of the favorite buzz phrases in today’s media environment, referring to innovations that have rapidly reshaped the industry. Yet long before many of those gadgets came into being, Rupert Murdoch was, in many ways, the great disruptor.

At first blush, it’s strange to think of Murdoch — who was 56 years old when the Fox network made its primetime debut in 1987 — as some sort of renegade. As the head of a major media conglomerate, he’s been a firmly entrenched part of the establishment.

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Through the series of deals on which he built Fox, however, as well as the expansion of the studio, Murdoch has seldom been bound by convention. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: MERGER DEAD: Comcast + Time Warner Cable Mega-Merger Doomed After FCC Issues Dreaded ‘Death Sentence’

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Internet users ‘can breathe sigh of relief’ as FCC calls for lengthy hearing, reportedly scuttling proposed mega-deal between top two US cable companies

The controversial merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable appears to be dead after the top regulator in the United States recommended handing over the deal to a lengthy hearing by an administrative law judge.

“The reason this is essentially a ‘death sentence’ is that it’s a multi-year process.”

The blockbuster combination of the two top cable companies in the US was already threatened by a widely reported decision from the Department of Justice to block the merger on antitrust grounds.

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On Thursday, in the face of a threat from the staff of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)Bloomberg reported that the deal is doomed.

Citing “people with knowledge of the matter”, the business news service said Comcast could decide whether to walk away from its proposed Time Warner Cable takeover as soon as Thursday, with an announcement on Friday.

“Designating the deal for a hearing would make Comcast and Time Warner Cable go through a lengthy evidentiary procedure. That’s a very high hurdle to clear in its own right, and a huge barrier to overcome for a disastrous deal like this one, which has no real public interest benefits to show.”

A spokeswoman for Comcast said the company had no comment on the report of the merger’s dissolution.

The two telecommunications giants proposed to create a single operator that would have controlled up to two-thirds of US internet connections and provided cable television to more that a quarter of the American market.

“The reason this is essentially a ‘death sentence’ is that it’s a multi-year process,” explained Rich Greenfield, an analyst at the research firm BTIG.

An FCC hearing under its rigorous judicial process, he said, “would involve senior Comcast executives taking the stand, and it’s very hard to imagine Comcast fighting a multi-year battle with the government. Even if they won that, it sounds like the Department of Justice is waiting to sue, so then you’d have to go to war with the DoJ.”

Rather than face a lengthy legal battle on two different fronts, the easiest way forward for Comcast appears to be to scuttle the merger entirely.

A reverse termination fee, or breakup fee, is usually a consolation prize for the smaller partner in a merger, paid by the larger partner if such a mega-deal fails – in Comcast’s case, probably about $1.35bn. Time Warner agreed to waive that fee last year.

From the moment the Comcast-Time Warner deal was proposed, critics questioned the possible consumer benefit from a merger that created a company with such a large share across multiple markets.

Others pointed to Comcast’s moves during its most recent huge merger, with NBCUniversal, in particular its record on providing broadband to low-income households in markets like its hometown of Philadelphia, as it had promised to do. Comcast was responding to those charges as recently as Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »


[REWIND] The Pros and Cons of ‘HBO Now’

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Back in September, there was plentiful speculation about HBO’s rumored streaming-only service. Now that the service is here, how did the speculation stack up to the reality? Here’s a trip back to some of those early predictions.

Sept. 16, 2014Chris Osterndorf writes: For TV junkies of the Internet age, the promised land may be on the horizon. That’s right, HBO may start offering streaming-only service

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Speaking at an investment conference earlier this week, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said that the company is “seriously considering what is the best way to deal with online distribution.” For the many who have been pushing HBO to package HBO GO as a separate entity for awhile now, this is no small statement. And with Netflix marching ever forward to corner the streaming market, this could be a crucial moment for HBO.

Yet offering HBO GO without a subscription to HBO presents a number of difficult questions. While it’s undoubtedly a tantalizing possibility, there are as many challenges inherent in this scenario as there are benefits.

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Pro: Easier for “Cord Cutters” and Millennials to Watch Their Favorite Shows

Offering HBO GO sans HBO already gels with the way a large number of millennials watch television. According to newfound data, this is a demographic that ingests three times more TV online than their older counterparts.

[Read the full text of Chris Osterndorf‘s Sept. 16th article here, at The Daily Dot]

These millennials are often lumped in as part of a larger group that’s been dubbed “cord cutters,” aka people who’ve dumped cable entirely to watch television through the Internet. And they’re a group that’s growing. A study that came out in June found that 2.9 percent of pay-TV consumers in this country are planning on canceling their cable service and joining the ranks of the cord cutters in the next year. This doesn’t sound like much until you take into account that this number is up from 2.7 percent last year, which was up from 2.2 percent the year before that, indicating American cord cutters are rising steadily.

Together, as millennials and cord cutters reject cable, they are changing the face of American television. HBO GO becoming its own service would be a huge victory for them, and for the shifting trends they represent.

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Con: Harder for HBO to Create Content

However, offering HBO GO separately from HBO could come at a price. Because for now, HBO, and all the content they provide, are still very much entrenched in a classic model of distribution.

When viewers first started to clamor for standalone HBO GO accounts several years ago, Ryan Lawler at TechCrunch observed, “HBO currently has about 29 million subscribers and reportedly receives around $7 or $8 per subscriber per month. So HBO could, theoretically, get more per subscriber than it’s currently making. But that doesn’t include the cost of infrastructure needed to support delivery of all those streams, including all the CDN delivery and other costs that would come with rolling out a broader online-only service.”

He continues, “More importantly, it wouldn’t include the cost of sales, marketing, and support—and this is where HBO would really get screwed. Going direct to online customers by pitching HBO GO over-the-top would mean losing the support of its cable, satellite, and IPTV distributors. And since the Comcasts and the Time Warner Cables of the world are the top marketing channel for premium networks like HBO, it would be nearly impossible for HBO to make up for the loss of the cable provider’s marketing team or promotions.”

What does this ultimately mean for you, the consumer? In short, it means that if HBO suffers, their output also suffers.

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So far, HBO is doing just fine in their fight against Netflix. Of course, they’re not able to provide the same wide array of movies and TV shows from other networks, but they’re as prestigious as ever, and they have several huge hits on their hands. In fact, Game of Thrones just surpassed The Sopranos to become their highest rated show ever. Read the rest of this entry »


Matt Drudge: ‘May the Democrats Burn in Hell for Opening the Doors to Endless Internet regulation. I Mean Really Burn.’

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FCC Internet Regulation Scheme: ‘Saddles Small, Independent Businesses and Entrepreneurs with Heavy-Handed Regulations that will Push them Out of the Market’

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Giuseppe Macri reports: Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai on Friday raised the first of many criticisms to come about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s aggressive net neutrality plan distributed to commissioners Thursday, which Pai described as “President Obama’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet.”

“Courts have twice thrown out the FCC’s attempts at Internet regulation. There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.”

In a statement released Friday, Pai lamented the fact that the 332-page plan, which he tweeted a picture of himself holding next to a picture of Obama, won’t be released to the public until after the commission votes on its implementation later this month.

“President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” Pai said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”

PALO ALTO, CA -JULY 12: Power line towers are shown July 12, 2002 in Palo Alto, California. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission boosted the maximum price of electricity from $55.26 per megawatt hour to $91.87 in the wake of record-breaking temperatures for the week, including 112 degrees in Redding, California today. One megawatt is enough to power about 750 homes. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In his initial cursory overview of the plan, the commissioner said it would hinder broadband investment, slow network speed and expansion, limit outgrowth to rural areas of the country and reduce Internet service provider (ISP) competition.

“The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market,” Pai said. “As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get.”

In an op-ed detailing the core aspects of his net neutrality plan published earlier this week, Wheeler described lumping ISPs under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act — which based its authority on that used to regulate telephone monopolies at the dawn of the communication age — as the cornerstone. Read the rest of this entry »


Jonathan Wilner: Bundled Cable Channels Are Here to Stay — And That’s a Good Thing

Illustration: elapela/Getty Images

Illustration: elapela/Getty Images

Note: Jonathan Wilner is a pro-bundler, he defends the practice. In this article for WIRED, he speaks for the cable companies, not the consumers. Founder of the broadband pay TV platform Unlimited Football, and former VP of technology at Foxsports.com, Wilner represents the sellers of bundled programming, not the interests of individual customers. His opinions should be viewed with that in mind. My comments are in italics.

Wilner writes:  These days, barely a week passes in the U.S. entertainment industry without litigation, legislation, or argumentation over bundling–the practice of offering a “package” of channels instead of the option to buy a la carte. I, for one, say enough with bundle bashing. Bundling is hardly unique to the entertainment industry, nor is it solely an American phenomenon. There’s a reason for this: Bundling benefits consumers and vendors in more ways than one.

Bundles exist and are popular with consumers across a range of goods and services: Computer software, automobile trim and option packages, restaurant meals, gym memberships, even amusement park tickets…

I have to interrupt Wilner for a moment, to point out the obvious. These are bad examples. With the exception gym memberships (bundle-only) none of these examples put consumers in the position of “buy a bundle, or no deal”. Amusement parks, computer software, restaurant meals, sure, those things are offered in package form, but are also available individually. Clearly you can buy one restaurant meal, you can buy one software program, one amusement park ticket, one pair of custom headlights for your car. Hell, if you wanted, you could buy one headlight. Ala carte.

Cable companies don’t “offer” programming in bundled form–that’s your only choice. Take it or leave it. (and they arrange the bundles, not you) You “get” to choose among bundled packages. In order to get programming from a cable TV provider, accepting a bundle is they only way to get it . Why does Wilner offer such poor examples?  

Imagine if you wanted to buy an airline ticket, and your only option was to buy a vacation package that included dozens of airline tickets? Or if you wanted to one out, but had to buy a booklet of 25 meal tickets? That’s the current arrangement with cable companies.

And despite all the furor over television bundling, non-TV programming often is bundled too: NBA League Pass, Netflix, Hulu, even Sirius radio subscriptions require consumers to pay a flat rate for a package that may include programs they don’t want.

In other words, “hey, these other providers do it.” So what? It’s still an anti-consumer practice. 

While anti-bundling advocates purport that a la carte programming would reduce costs to consumers, it simply isn’t true. In a series of posts from his blog Stratēchery, Ben Thompson provides compelling evidence to show that if ESPN was offered on an a la carte basis, it could maintain its current profitability only if individual subscribers paid about $100 a month for it.

Read the rest of this entry »


Comcast to Buy Time Warner Cable

Comcast has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, combining the two largest cable companies in the country.

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If the deal is approved, the combined group will be the country’s dominant provider of television channels and Internet connections, reaching roughly one in three American homes.

Time Warner Cable (TWCFortune 500) owners will be offered 2.875 Comcast(CMCSAFortune 500) shares for each share they own, valuing Time Warner Cable at about $158.82 per share.

The two companies expect the merger to take effect by the end of the year, but regulators are likely to take a close look at the potential impact on consumers.

To address those concerns, Comcast said it was prepared to divest about 3 million subscribers. But it would still have about 30 million customers. Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit will lead the merged company.

Read the rest of this entry »


Streaming Revolution: Stats Show Bundled Cable Is Dying

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John Nolte writes:  Business Insider reports that the television industry is “having its worst year ever.” Ratings have plummeted, and so have subscribers to bundled cable television — which is the Golden Cash Cow of  Hollywood. Since 2010, cable providers have lost 5 million subscribers. During the last quarter alone 113,000 cable customers said goodbye.

For decades, cable providers gained a lot more customers than they ever lost, but those days are long over. For the first time in the industry’s history, there are fewer than 40 million customers paying for cable from America’s major providers. People are obviously moving online, choosing to stream the television shows and films they want to watch, and doing so when they choose to. Appointment television is as dead as Barack Obama’s credibility.

Streaming is a much better deal for consumers. Instead of facing punishing prices for a bundled cable package that makes you pay for dozens of channels you never watch, streaming offers choice and value and convenience. Some programming is still exclusively available via bundled cable or satellite only. Eventually, though, that will have to change. Entertainment providers will have to go to where the people are. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple Takes a Bullet: LA County sheriff’s deputy saved by iPhone charger cable

"If it weren't for that Bible, the bullet woulda gone right through my heart"

“If it weren’t for that Bible iPhone charger cable in my pocket, the bullet would’a gone right through my hip”

Steven Sande reports:  A Los Angeles (Calif.) County sheriff’s deputy was injured in a shooting Tuesday morning in Inglewood, Calif., but things could have been worse had it not been for an Apple Lightning charger cable that was in her pocket. The charger cable actually deflected a bullet that would have otherwise been embedded in the deputy’s hip.

In a tweet from the LA County Sheriff official Twitter account, the brave sacrifice of the Lightning cable in taking one for its owner was referred to as a “miracle.” From the looks of the cable, the USB end took the brunt of the bullet. Needless to say, the deputy may need to visit an Apple Store soon and get a replacement.

TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog