Mike Allen: Nine days that rocked U.S. media

August 6, 2013

Business

reading-news-digital-tablet-23133913Politico Playbook’s Mike Allen outlines and aggregates the fallout from nine days that rocked U.S. media:

July 28: Justin Smith, president of Atlantic Media, will be CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, which includes television, radio, magazine, conference and digital businesses.

July 29: The Allbritton family sells seven ABC affiliates, including WJLA ABC7 in Washington (plus NewsChannel 8 in D.C.), to Sinclair Broadcast Group of Baltimore for $1 billion. Robert Allbritton, chairman and CEO of Allbritton Communications, had said in May – in a memo announcing he was exploring the sale of the stations — that he would use the proceeds to invest further in Politico, and other digital media companies: “This is the Golden Age of new media innovation, and I intend to stay on the leading edge of it.”

July 30: Ratings show ABC “World News” scores one-week win in key demographic over “NBC Nightly News,” which continues win among total viewers for 202nd straight week. …

Aug. 3: Red Sox owner John Henry buys The Boston Globe from The New York Times Co. for $70 million in cash. The Times had bought Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion. …

Aug. 5: Jeff Bezos – as an individual, not through Amazon — buys The Washington Post for $250 million. The Post quotes Craig Huber of Huber Research Partners: “This newspaper would’ve sold 10 years ago for $2 billion.”

And regarding the Washington Post buyout:

Henry Blodget, CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, which has Bezos as an investor through his personal investment company, Bezos Expedition : “I’d guess that Jeff Bezos thinks that owning the Washington Post will be interesting, fun, and cool. And my guess is that, if that is all it ever turns out to be, Jeff Bezos will be fine with that. This is a man who invests in rockets and atomic clocks, after all. He doesn’t necessarily make these investments for the money. Or bragging rights. Or strategic synergies. Second, I’d guess that Jeff Bezos thinks that there are some similarities between the digital news business and his business (ecommerce)–and that no one in the news business has really capitalized on this yet.

“Lastly, I’d guess that Jeff Bezos thinks there are many ways in which the news business might be complementary to Amazon. 1. Amazon is already in the content production and distribution business–and news is just another kind of content. … 2. Amazon is already in the subscription and media-gadget businesses. … 3. ‘News’ is the digital equivalent of a high-traffic intersection: As people pass through to consume information they might also stop to do some shopping. … 4. Amazon is getting into the local physical delivery business–a business that the Washington Post is already in.” http://read.bi/1541UON 

Post video interview with Donald Edward Graham, chairman of the board of The Washington Post Company: “I think every Graham — not only every Graham, but everybody at the top of The Washington Post Company — had the same reaction when we first started to THINK about the possibility, which was: great surprise, sadness. But the reason we started to think about it … is the point of our family’s ownership — we were brought up to understand this — was always supposed to be what was good for The Post. And as last year ended, I sat down with the publisher of The Post, Katharine Weymouth, who is also Katharine Graham’s granddaughter, and the daughter of my stalwart sister, Lally [Weymouth], whose story from Egypt led The Post on Sunday. And Katharine and I started to look at the numbers, realized that this year, 2013, would be the seventh straight year of significant declining revenues. … We’ve innovated a lot. And if I look back all those years, I’m amazed and impressed by how successful our innovations have been in audience and quality. But the revenues we’ve gotten from those innovations haven’t offset the continued pounding decline. We knew we could keep The Post alive — we knew it could survive. But our wish – our aspirations for The Post have always been higher [than] that.

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

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