Media and Money

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Today, the Federal Communications Commission grants—with conditions and enforceable commitments approval of the assignment and transfer of control of broadcast, satellite, and other radio licenses from General Electric Company (GE) to Comcast Corporation. The approval will allow GE and Comcast to create a joint venture involving NBC Universal, Inc. (NBCU) and Comcast.

Some critics such as John Silver, President of the Free Press, are outraged at this merger saying:

You should be afraid and mad as hell.

The new Comcast will control an obscene number of media outlets, including the NBC broadcast network, numerous cable channels, two dozen local NBC and Telemundo stations, movie studios, online video portals, and the physical network that distributes that media content to millions of Americans through Internet and cable connections.

While even some politicians like Senator Al Franken are fighting against this push with a call to action:

This deal would mean higher cable rates and less freedom of choice for American consumers, and it would give a single media conglomerate unprecedented control over the flow of information in America. Whenever the same company owns both the content and the pipes delivering that content, consumers lose.

Already, we have seen that Comcast is not operating in good faith. By imposing a new fee on the company delivering Netflix’s online video streaming, Comcast is trying to kill off a competitor. Comcast has also refused to provide the FCC with documents necessary for the review process, and has already named the 43 executives who will take over NBC Universal.

As American consumers, we know a bad deal when we see one. Allowing this merger to proceed could lead to subsequent deals, leaving Americans at the mercy of a few powerful media conglomerates.

Sign Al Franken’s petition HERE!

Even Bloomberg has filed papers against the ruling stating the specifics:

Comcast is to pay GE $6.5 billion in cash and to contribute cable channels valued at $7.25 billion to a joint venture that will own the entertainment company. The joint venture is to include NBC Universal businesses and Comcast properties including E!, Versus and Golf Channel, the companies said in announcing the deal.

GE said in a statement today it expects about $8 billion in proceeds from the sale and a “small” after-tax gain when the transaction closes. The sale marks the end of more than two decades of ownership after GE acquired the NBC network in 1986 via its purchase of RCA Corp.

Paris-based Vivendi SA is to sell its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal as part of the deal.

Comcast was advised by Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, with Davis Polk & Wardwell as legal counsel. GE was advised by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Weil, Gotshal & Manges acted as legal advisers.

Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has filed documents opposing the Comcast-NBC Universal combination as it was proposed.

A recent Burson-Marsteller study found that 79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the most popular social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blogs.

Like the Fortune 100 study found, Twitter is the social media platform of choice among the Fortune Global 100. The study found that 65 percent of the largest 100 international companies have active accounts on Twitter, 54 percent have a Facebook fan page, 50 percent have a YouTube channel, and one-third (33 percent) have corporate blogs. Only 20 percent of the major international companies are utilizing all four platforms to engage with stakeholders.

Companies’ platform preferences also differed among regions. Companies based in the United States and Europe are more likely to use Twitter or Facebook than they were to have corporate blogs, while companies from Asia-Pacific were more likely to utilize corporate blogs than other forms of social media. However, Asian companies will use Twitter or Facebook to communicate with Western audiences (for example, Toshiba).

It also appears that some companies are getting more comfortable using social media as they are interacting and engaging more and not just broadcasting corporate messages. Companies using Twitter are following an average of 731 people each and 38 percent of companies are responding to people’s tweets (for example, Vodafone UK). Thirty-two percent have also “re-tweeted” or reposted user comments during the last week (like Verizon Careers).

For the full report on how Fortune 500 companies are using social media.

The New Orleans Saints’ victory over Indianapolis in the Super Bowl was watched by more than 106 million people, surpassing the 1983 finale of “M-A-S-H” to become the most-watched program in U.S. television history, the Nielsen Co. said Monday.

Compelling story lines involving the city of New Orleans and its ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina and the attempt at a second Super Bowl ring for Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning propelled the viewership. Football ratings have been strong all season.
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Three-quarters (74%) of U.S. adults, or nearly 171 million people, read a newspaper — in print or online — during the past week. This is according to the latest Integrated Newspaper Audience (INA)* finding from Scarborough Research, the audience ratings measurement service for the newspaper industry. The company examined newspaper readership in its recently released Scarborough USA+ Study, which captures media patterns and other consumer behaviors of adults across the country. The data analysis indicates that newspapers are still read in print or online by a critical mass of adults in the U.S. on a daily and weekly basis.

“While our data does show that print newspaper readership is slowly declining, it also illustrates that reports about the pending death of the newspaper industry are not supported by audience data,” said Gary Meo, Scarborough Research’s Senior Vice President of Print and Digital Media Services. “Given the fragmentation of media choices, printed newspapers are holding onto their audiences relatively well and this is refreshing news.”
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By Stephanie Clifford, New York Times

Bloomberg LP is the winning bidder for McGraw-Hill’s BusinessWeek.

Bloomberg’s interest signals a wider journalistic ambition at the company, where the publishing side is known for its financial focus and financial readers.

Despite some award-winning journalism, after 80 years, BusinessWeek had become a drag on parent company’s McGraw-Hill’s books. It lost $43 million last year and had almost $32 million in liabilities outstanding as of April 30 — more debts than assets — according to a June memorandum sent to potential buyers.

While initial interest in the title was high, Bloomberg’s interest turned off a number of bidders, who felt that the media company was McGraw-Hill’s preferred buyer.

Good news for marketers. The Nielsen Company and Facebook join forces to help marketers better use the Internet to develop and market new products according to statements from Nielsen.

The alliance combines Facebook’s global consumer reach with Nielsen’s market research expertise to provide better insight and information to marketers around the world.

First, the companies will roll out with Nielsen BrandLift, a product designed to provide marketers with effectiveness measurement for Facebook advertising. It will launch in the U.S. with select test partners this week and roll out to all Facebook advertisers in the coming months. BrandLift uses opt-in polls on Facebook’s homepage to measure consumer attitudes and purchase intent from display advertising that has appeared on the site.

“Facebook is an increasingly vital link between consumers and brands,” said John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen’s online division. “We will now be able to add deep knowledge of this important social network to our unmatched media measurement and consumer insight across all three screens. Together we will be able to provide the missing elements to clients seeking better understanding of how Web content and online advertising affect consumer behavior.”

“Nielsen is the leader in measurement and is an excellent partner for us as we look to provide marketers with richer ad effectiveness data,” said Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. “The combination of our unique ability to quickly and effectively poll a sample of our more than 300 million users and Nielsen’s expertise in data analysis will give marketers access to powerful data they can use to understand and improve current and future campaigns.”

A new report from Nielsen shows the overall online video usage and top online brands ranked by video streams for August 2009. Year-over-year, unique viewers, total streams, streams per viewer and time per viewer were up, led by a 41 percent growth in total streams.

Take a look at these numbers:

Overall Online Video Usage (U.S.)
August 2009 | Year-Over-Year | Month-Over-Month
Unique Viewers (000) 139,176 18.00% 2.40%
Total Streams 11,363,819 41.00% 1.50%
Streams per Viewer 81.7 19.60% -0.80%
Time per Viewer (min) 204.9 38.60% -3.20%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for August 2009 (U.S.)
RANK Video Brand | Total Streams | Unique Viewers
1 YouTube 7,188,638 107,730
2 Hulu 392,545 9,894
3 Yahoo! 226,601 28,402
4 MSN/Live/Bing 180,603 17,244
5 Nickelodeon 158,790 6,376
6 Turner Network 151,606 7,826
7 Fox Interactive 149,304 14,823
8 Disney Online 103,992 9,524
9 MTV Networks 102,021 6,227
10 Blinkx 94,728 425
Source: The Nielsen Company


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