Saturday, November 28, 2015

Disney Falls on ESPN Decline, Dragging Down Media Stocks

Shares of Walt Disney Co. dropped the most in three months Friday after thecompany reported that its ESPN sports network lost 3 million subscribers in a year, reviving concerns about shrinking demand for traditional pay-TV packages and dragging down U.S. media stocks.

Subscriptions to the ESPN sports network, Disney’s most profitable channel, fell 3.2 percent to 92 million at end of October, according to a filing Wednesday after the market closed. ESPN’s subscriber totals had hovered around 100 million for years.

According to Bloomberg News, the report put a number on the extent of ESPN’s declines, after Disney chief executive Bob Iger told investors in August that the channel had experienced “some modest” subscriber losses. Those comments, and Disney’s darkened outlook about its cable TV businesses, sparked a sell-off in media stocks at the time. They highlighted the impact of cord cutting — Americans who drop traditional pay-TV packages for cheaper online alternatives such as Netflix and Hulu — on the entire television industry.

The “filing simply confirmed media investors’ fears that the big cable bundle, which has been good to all in the media ecosystem, may be under threat,” said Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.

The decline equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and helps explain why ESPN has made cost-cutting personnel moves over the past year, letting go high-priced talent such as Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons. The network also is hamstrung by signing a nine-year, $24 billion deal to carry the NBA.

Friday’s declines show investors’ nervousness about the media industry since the August meltdown, which erased $60 billion in market capitalization in two days. While Disney reassured investors this month by posting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, media stocks tanked on Nov. 4 after Time Warner lowered its 2016 earnings outlook.

Murdoch: Tribune Papers Likely To Be Sold

By Dan Levine

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman of Wall Street Journal publisher News Corp, on Friday said he had "strong word" that the Tribune Publishing Co's newspaper group will be bought by a Wall Street firm, while the Los Angeles Times will be split off and purchased by local investors including philanthropist Eli Broad.

Rupert Mrudoch
Murdoch, who is also co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, the entertainment and broadcast group, made his comments on Twitter.

In September Tribune's board said the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune were "a cornerstone of our company's portfolio and a key component to our success in the future."

Murdoch did not say on his verified Twitter account which firm would acquire the newspaper group or the timing of any deal. Murdoch tweeted that he did not bid and had no interest.

A Los Angeles Times representative referred questions to a Tribune Co spokesman, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Broad, who has previously expressed an interest in the Los Angeles Times, declined to comment.

The Tribune Co in September reduced its financial guidance for the year, which it attributed to challenges in Southern California. It replaced the Los Angeles Times publisher around the same time.

Other newspapers published by the Tribune Co include the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, SunSentinel and Orlando Sentinel.

Tribune shares closed at $9.29 on Friday, down nearly 25 percent from $12.24 on Aug. 31.

November 28 Radio History

George Hay
In 1925..."The Grand Ole Opry" debuted on WSM, Nashville under the name "Barn Dance". The first artist to perform on the show was fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson.

It didn't settle on a name until June 1928. The Opry got its name by an unusual coincidence: Soon after Program Director George D. Hay started his show, WSM radio joined the NBC radio network. Since the program followed a performance on the network called the Metropolitan Grand Opera. So, Hay decided to call his program the Grand Ole Opry.

Hay was born in Attica, Indiana. In Memphis, Tennessee, after World War I, he was a reporter for the Commercial Appeal, and when the newspaper launched its own radio station, WMC, in January 1923, he became a late-night announcer at the station. His popularity increased and in May 1924 he left for WLS in Chicago, where he served as the announcer on a program that became National Barn Dance.

On November 9, 1925 he moved on to WSM in Nashville. Getting a strong listener reaction to 78-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Hay announced the following month that WSM would feature "an hour or two" of old-time music every Saturday night. He promoted the music and formed a booking agency.

In the 1930s the show began hiring professionals and expanded to four hours; and WSM, broadcasting by then with 50,000 watts, made the program a Saturday night musical tradition in nearly 30 states. In 1939, it debuted nationally on NBC Radio. The Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, in 1943. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's "country music capital". The Grand Ole Opry holds such significance in Nashville that its name is included on the city/county line signs on all major roadways. The signs read "Music City | Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County | Home of the Grand Ole Opry".

Membership in the Opry remains one of country music's crowning achievements. Such country music legends as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Roy Acuff, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl became regulars on the Opry's stage. In recent decades, the Opry has hosted such contemporary country stars as Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and the Dixie Chicks. Since 1974, the show has been broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown Nashville, with an annual three-month winter foray back to the Ryman since 1999.

The Grand Ole Opry is broadcast live on WSM-AM at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday nights.

The Opry can also be heard live on Willie's Roadhouse on channel 59 on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. A condensed radio program, America's Opry Weekend, is syndicated to stations around the United States. The program is also streamed on WSM's website.

ABC broadcast the Grand Old Opry as a monthly series from 1955–56. PBS televised annual live performances from 1978 to 1981.  In 1985, The Nashville Network began airing an edited half-hour version of the program as Grand Ole Opry Live; the show moved to Country Music Television (expanding to an hour in the process), and then to the Great American Country (GAC) cable network with its Opry Live show currently on hiatus.

In 1932...Groucho Marx performed on radio for the first time.

In 1960...The CBS Radio Network expanded its hourly news coverage from 5 to 10 minutes.

In 1960..."Are You Lonesome Tonight" by Elvis Presley peaked at number one on the pop singles chart.

In 1987...Pat St. John debuted on WNEW-FM, New York City. He was previously at WPLJ.

In & TV host Garry Moore died of emphysema at age 78.  He successfully combined genial humor with a pleasant personality and relaxed style that made him a favorite with audiences, both radio & TV, whether in a variety format or on panel shows. (I’ve Got a Secret, To Tell the Truth.)

In 2011...Comedian/Radio personality (Opie and Anthony) Patrice O'Neal died of complications from a stroke suffered the previous month at the age of 41.

Friday, November 27, 2015

NYC Radio: Geraldo Rivera Leaving WABC Radio

Talk Show host Geraldo Rivera believes he's on the way out at WABC 770 AM.  Rivera today posted a message on Facebook which stated he has been informed that current Cumulus suits are not going to honor a handshake deal he said made with former corporate programming chief John Dickey. The handshake deal was meant to continue his local radio deal with Cumulus for another year without a formal contract, according to Rivera.

Rivera said he found out about it Wednesday and stated, "On the eve of Thanksgiving is especially (the news is) upsetting."

There has been no confirmation or statement from Cumulus Corporate.

To fans of my #77WABCradio show this may be goodbye. I’ve just been informed by the new...
Posted by Geraldo Rivera on Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rivera is also a pundit for the Fox News Channel.

Analysts: Turkey Day Shopping A "Bust", Friday Fizzles

Target had its biggest online shopping day ever on Thanksgiving, according to Business Insider.

"Demand outpaced 2014's record Thanksgiving performance, making it Target's biggest day for online sales yet," the retailer said in a release.

The record-breaking sales online were driven by three items: the Apple iPad, the Apple Watch, and the Wii U gaming console, the company said.

Target sold nearly all of its Black Friday doorbusters online beginning Thanksgiving morning. Because of the promotion, the brand saw a 35% increase in customers picking up items in stores.

Reuters report crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and on Thanksgiving evening as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution and bad weather hurt turnout.

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some on Friday morning said they had already shopped online or visited the mall the night before. That reflects the new normal of U.S. holiday shopping, where stores open up with deals on Thanksgiving Thursday itself, rather than waiting until Black Friday.

In an effort to attract the most eager holiday shoppers and fend off competition from Inc, U.S. retailers have increasingly extended their holiday deals by opening stores on the evening of Thanksgiving.

That has hurt Black Friday sales in previous years, a trend analysts expect will continue this year.

"We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust," analysts at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey said in a research note. "Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores."

Scott Tuhy, vice-president at Moody's who tracks companies like Macy's Inc (M.N), said crowds on Thursday evening in New Jersey were steady but not busy. He said some stores saw a fair amount of activity around orders that were placed online and picked up in stores.

The Macy's store at Water Tower Place mall on a rainy Chicago morning saw thin crowds in the early hours of Friday after a fairly busy Thanksgiving evening, store associates said.


Shoppers in the United States spent more than $1 billion online, 22-percent more than last year, between midnight and 5 pm ET on Thursday, according to the Adobe Digital Index, which tracked 100 million visits to 4,500 U.S. retail sites.

Many stores around the country were full on Thanksgiving evening. Local media reported brawling shoppers at a packed Kentucky mall on Thursday, forcing a police officer to intervene and break up the fight.

Early Black Friday discounts included $700 off a 60-inch Samsung television at Best Buy for $799.99, 20 percent off a $75 purchase at Target, and a Kindle for $49.99 on

As much as 20 percent of holiday shopping is expected to be done over the Thanksgiving weekend this year, analysts said. The four-day shopping burst will help set the tone for the rest of the season, signaling to retailers whether they need to drop prices or change promotions.

ESPN Losing Subscribers By The Millions

Confirming what some on Wall Street have been suspecting for a while, Walt Disney Co. has revealed that it lost three million subscribers to its sports network ESPN within one year.

According to Marketwatch, the ESPN faithful are down to 92 million as of the fiscal year ended Oct. 3., Disney said in a regulatory filing dated Wednesday. That compares with 95 million for fiscal year 2014, and 99 million for 2013. It also brings customer numbers back to where they were 10 years ago, a level of 92 million for 2006.

In August, Chief Executive Robert Iger revealed the sports powerhouse channel had experienced “some subscriber losses.” Wall Street punished Disney shares after the media giant said its cable business — which is largely driven by ESPN — would see operating income growth in the “mid-single digits”. That was a step down from a previous forecast, which saw “high single digit” income growth between fiscal 2013 and 2016.

Nielsen data has revealed that subscription growth for ESPN has been waning since 2011. Disney pays around $2 billion a year for NFL football games and will pay $1.4 billion to the NBA starting in 2016. Both of these deals have raised analyst concerns about whether the company is paying too much.

ESPN subscribers paid just over $6 each on average a month for the service in 2014. Based on that, the loss of 3 million subscribers in one year would be taking around $216 million away from Disney’s coffers.

Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family, all Disney-owned, each had 4-5 million lost subscribers over the two year period, according to the company’s annual 10K report.

Portland OR Radio: John Canzano Re-Ups with KXTG

KXTG 750 AM (50 Kw-D, 20 Kw-N)
Sports radio host John Canzano have agreed to extend the successful run of Bald Faced Truth sports radio show on Alpha Media's KXTG 750 AM and K275CH 102.9-FM The Game.

Alpha signed Canzano to a long-term extension this week that will keep The Game’s longest running sports talk show on the company’s flagship Portland-based station. Bald Faced Truth airs 12:00pm-3:00pm weekdays.

Alpha Media Executive VP of Programming, Scott Mahalick commented on the announcement, “Renewing a seasoned professional varsity multimedia broadcast talent like John Canzano is the perfect centerpiece to The Game’s talent roster.

Canzano has been with The Game since its launch in 2008 and also serves as the lead sports columnist at The Oregonian and a sports commentator at KGW-TV, Portland’s NBC affiliate. Canzano’s social media following includes more than 65,000 followers.

His show guests have ranged from national figures such as President Obama to Mike Tyson and regular spirited exchanges with the local sports athletes and coaches.

“John Canzano is a multi-media Portland sports brand that Alpha Media is thrilled to extend to 750/102.9 The Game for many years to come,” remarked Alpha Media Senior Vice President/Market Manager, Milt McConnell. “John’s ability to get big name sports personalities and unique insights on our local sports franchises provide some of the most compelling content on local radio.”

Canzano is a seven-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner in column writing and investigative reporting.

K275CH 102.9 FM (99 watts)
In 2008, he was named America’s No. 1 sports columnist by the APSE. Talkers magazine named The Bald Faced Truth one of the Top 20 local radio shows in the country in 2014. Also, Canzano is a five-time winner of the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year.

“Today’s sports talk listener wants great local talk; unbiased and truthful,” added Canzano.

“It’s why my show and The Game connect so deeply with listeners. I’m proud to sign a long-term contract to be part of a sports station that is surging forward, offering the audience rich programming and big ideas while so many others are shrinking.”

The Game current airs the Dan Patrick show (6-9a), Jim Rome (9a-12p) followed by Canzano’s show from noon to 3 p.m. The Game’s afternoon drive show is “Afternoons with Fletch and Chop” from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

Trump Denies Mocking NY Times Reporter

(Reuters) --Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denied on Thursday he was mocking the physical disability of a New York Times reporter during a campaign speech in which he flailed his arms and distorted his speech in an imitation of the journalist.

The latest uproar over Trump's behavior on the campaign trail was ignited by remarks the billionaire real-estate tycoon and former reality-TV star made during a South Carolina rally on Tuesday about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

Trump, front-runner for his party's nomination for the November, 2016 election, was defending his unsubstantiated assertions that thousands of Muslims were seen in New Jersey cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers. During the speech, he singled out Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for a story he wrote a few days after the attacks while he was then a Washington Post correspondent.

That article reported authorities had detained "a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river." Those accounts have never been authenticated.

Kovaleski himself said in a recent CNN interview that he did "not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds of people celebrating. That was not the case, as best I can remember."

While not referring to Kovaleski by name in his speech, Trump accused the reporter of backing down from his own story.

"Now, the poor guy - you've got to see this guy. 'Ah, I don't know what I said. I don't remember,'" Trump said at the microphone, jerking his arms in front of his body and slurring his words in a crude impression of the reporter.

Kovaleski suffers from a congenital condition called arthrogryposis, which limits mobility and muscle development in the joints.

The New York Times issued a statement on Thursday rebuking Trump, saying, "We think it's outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters."

Trump fired back on social media, denying he had made fun of Kovaleski's disability or would even recognize him.

"I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago," Trump wrote. "If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like. If I did know, I would definitely not say anything about his appearance."

He also accused Kovaleski of "using his disability to grandstand."

In an interview for the Times, Kovaleski said he was certain Trump remembers him from his days covering the real estate developer for the New York Daily News in the 1980s, and that the two were "on a first-name basis for years."

"The sad part about it is, it didn't in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record," the Washington Post quoted him saying in a separate interview.

Report: HLN To Get Revamped

After veering from trial coverage to viral videos, HLN, formerly Headline News, will look more like sister news network CNN and less like a social media experiment.

The NY Post reports CNN boss Jeff Zucker as saying HLN would become more closely allied with CNN’s own content, likely running its library of documentaries, according to a memo to staffers that announced the exit of HLN chief Albie Hecht.

While Hecht had held meetings with programming suppliers on the West Coast as recently as this month, his exit came as little surprise to some of the network’s partners, who say it was clear that seizing on social media buzz wasn’t working for the network.

Jeff Zucker
“They realized the millennial strategy was nonsense,” said one source.

Zucker hasn’t started a search to replace Hecht, according to sources, who added that other staff may exit as the network’s schedule gets revamped.

One source said Hecht had not been a Zucker hire and that Zucker knew six months ago that he wanted to make a change.

Hecht joined in September 2013 as vice president and general manager at HLN, but was never a traditional choice. He had success in launching Viacom’s male-skewing Spike network, but little traditional news experience.

This time last year, Time Warner had been in talks with Vice co-founder Shane Smith about transforming HLN into a Vice-branded TV channel. Those talks foundered over valuation among other issues.

Ex-Producer Accused of Threatening Opie

Greg Hughes
A disgruntled ex-producer for​​ “Opie and Anthony” has been busted for allegedly harassing and stalking the cohost of the former talk radio show.

According to the NY Post, 40-year-old Benjamin Sparks sent Gregg Hughes aka Opie over 40 insulting text messages for two days beginning Sept. 18, the criminal complaint states.

Ben Sparks
“F—king law breaking piece of sh–t you are. Have fun. I got you,” Sparks allegedly texted Hughes who now hosts the Sirius Satellite Radio show “Opie with Jim Norton.”

“Everyone wants to take you down,” the irate former employee continued with his hateful barrage. “Get ready for many lawsuits. I have good lawyers. Looking forward to taking your money.”

Hughes repeatedly told Sparks, who was arrested in October, to stop contacting him but to no avail, court papers show.