Posts Tagged ‘AT&T’

Media Navel Gaze

The Week Unpeeled

The New York Times management-change story seemed to escape much of the spotlight by the end of last week with attention turned to mergers and some high-profile corporate charges, allegations and fines, with AT&T agreeing to acquire DirecTV for $49 billion, blurring the lines between mobile, cable, video and pay TV.

Elsewhere:

  • Google was reportedly in talks to buy Twitch a live video-streaming service;
  • Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to criminal tax charges in helping customers evade taxes;
  • Barclays was fined last week 26 million pounds for gold rigging;
  • The US Justice Department, meanwhile, charged Chinese military officials for allegedly hacking US computer computers in an effort to steal trade secrets;
  • Time and Sports Illustrated have started to put ads on the cover, a first for a big publisher in the US (put you kinda have to really look for it under the bar code) put a significant step nonetheless;
  • Thailand’s military staged a coup, the second time in about a decade that the army has ousted the government; and
  • The markets rallied last week with the S&P closing at a record high of 1,900 and the Dow at 16,606. End of Story
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att-directvWhen AT&T announced on Sunday, May 18th that it would be acquiring DirecTV the news hardly came as a surprise, as a combination had been rumored in the financial press for some time. However, what did come as a surprise was to me was the outlet that broke the news; it was none other than BuzzFeed – the viral media website more known for posts on topics such as “If Pop Songs Were Works Of Classic Literature” and quizzes about “What Can You Learn From Your Star Sign Today?,” which are two stories currently gracing its homepage.

When I read the Reuters article crediting BuzzFeed with the scoop, I was shocked, but this isn’t as out of the blue as it might appear at first blush. BuzzFeed has been bulking up its original news content ever since it hired Ben Smith from Politico in late 2011. Moreover, one of the journalists who broke the story, business editor Peter Lauria, is certainly no stranger to this space, having previously served as TMT editor at Reuters (the other, John Passatino’s pedigree wasn’t immediately discernible, though he mostly covers weather).

BuzzFeed now boasts a well developed business section, covering topics from big banks to Tim Geitner’s book and with some especially well done hedge fund coverage, which is definitely something worth bearing in mind when pitching stories.

Finally, BuzzFeed hasn’t been a stranger to being the subject of deals stories, having been courted by Disney recently, though walking away when Mickey & Minnie couldn’t meet their price. Given that BuzzFeed is both profitable and growing, it may not be long before it’s both breaking and making deal news once again. Unfortunately, it may still be some time before CEOs are filling out quizzes about “Are Your Company’s Takeover Defenses Strong Enough?” which is kind of a shame. End of Story

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There you are, bored on any given weekday night with nothing more to watch than yet another rousing episode of American Idol or House Hunters. While the seemingly endless supply of everyday individuals who think they can carry a tune or afford a 4000+ sq/ft house with granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and a multi-head shower deeply intrigues me, there are times when I find my attention hungering something with a little more intrigue. Thankfully, locked away within a secret bunker deep inside the innards of an advertising agency, there dwell creative visionaries whose very jobs are to create a vacuum in which we’re all socially sucked in. And I applaud them.

Beginning in November, creative agency BBDO Atlanta unleashed a television ad series starring Beck Bennet and a boisterous variety of adorable kids, answering questions designed to highlight AT&T’s prominent features/services. These commercials don’t hurl facts and figures into your face, nor do they serve up steaming piles of propaganda for your unwanted digestion. Instead, Beck posts a basic question to some articulate adolescents, and their adorable answers create and instant chuckle fest. You forget that AT&T wants you to know about their network speed or sizable download capabilities, and instead just learn that a robot shooting lasers from two eyes instead of one is more powerful, or that fastening a cheetah to grandma’s back might make her faster. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up. But I wish I did.

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The Week Unpeeled

The holiday week seemed to be filled with departures, false starts and failed attempts except for retail shoppers (and not bond shoppers), with a real degree of pessimism creeping into the coverage of the markets, economy and politics.  For example:

  • Gone Fishing: The anything but “super” committee threw in the towel last week and could not come to any agreement on how to cut the US deficit, paving the way for automatic spending cuts to take effect 2013;
  • Gone Missing (Still): The estimated amount of funds still missing from the MF Global bankruptcy is seen now at $1.2 billion, double initial totals;
  • Gone Packing: Yemen’s President President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferred power to his vice president, the fourth Arab leader forced from power, but next steps seemed a little confusing;
  • Gone Shopping: Retailers reported fairly strong sales on Black Friday amid extremely higher-than-usual media coverage and bloody melees;
  • Gone Awry: The AT&T/T-Mobile deal turned sour with head coming from the Justice Department on the megadeal;
  • Gone South: The Dow ended a shortened holiday week down 4.8 percent to 11,231 for one of the worst weeks in a couple months because of both Europe and US debt concerns as markets headed into December, a typically positive month that now looks gloomy;
  • Going, Going But Not Gone: Germany failed to sell about 35 percent of its £5bn 10-year bond offering, raising major concerns about sovereign debt offerings in the weeks ahead and pressuring global markets all week; and
  • Going for Broke: UK taxpayers will underwrite mortgages totalling hundreds of millions of pounds under plans to unblock the housing market and revive the flagging economy. Buyers will be able to borrow up to 95% of their value as part of plans the government says will help get "Britain building again.

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon 2.0

It appears we are all closer than we think.  Research released last week claimed that the average number of acquaintances separates two people is 4.74 degrees, not 6.00 degrees, according to scientists at Facebook and the University of Milan, who looked only at Facebook data.  BFFs just got a little easier. CJP

 

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The Week Unpeeled

The end of August ended with a bang on all fronts except the jobs front as the month turned out to be one of the “newsworthiest” in a long time, from the earthquake and hurricane on the East Coast to Murdoch to Jobs to Syria to London riots to S&P downgrades to the debt-ceiling debate to BachmanPerryRomney to wild market rides. Get the pic.  More recently and elsewhere:

  • Bad Labor Day News: The jobs picture dimmed considerably with zero new jobs created in August, the first time in a year when no jobs were added to the economy;
  • Focus now is on President Obama’s speech on jobs, scheduled for Thursday (after PR nightmare scheduling fights with the GOP);
  • Obama appointed Princeton economist Alan Krueger to be head of his Council of Economic Advisor, someone familiar to CJP when he worked with us on developing a proposed index for one-time client Adecco;
  • The US sued to block the $39-billion AT&T/T-Mobile merger (which is being argued about whether it will help or hurt the jobs picture);
  • The US also sued 17 mortgage institutions that sold loans that turned bad to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • WikiLeaks cables were leaked; and
  • For the month, the Dow declined 529 points to end at 11,240 (September is usually the worst week for stocks, so stay tuned).

Tech Blogger to Become Investor

Interesting businesss/journalism/gray area story last week when Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame announced plans to start a venture-capital fund to invest in Silicon Valley start ups, even ones he and staff may cover as bloggers. The $20-million fund raises obvious questions about conficts of interest. TechCrunch’s somewhat new owner, AOL, said Arrington will take a new role at the site, hire a new managing editor and continue to report to Arrianna Huffington (maybe not to ruin the perfect mashup of reporting lines and names). CJP

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