The Morning Fix: Fewer televisions out there. ‘Book of Mormon’ leads Tony noms. Universal shakeup.
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After the coffee. Before declaring a moratorium on social-network trend stories. We get it: People use Facebook and Twitter to gossip and talk about news. Next!
The Skinny: Am I too negative? I prefer to think I’m jaded and a realist with a heart of gold. But maybe I’m just bitter. Oh well, this isn’t a therapist’s couch it’s a roundup of media news headlines. We’re not solving the world’s problems here. But we will tell you about the Tony Award nominations, a shakeup at Universal Pictures and lots of other stuff.
Twitter reality check. Twitter is getting lots of attention for its role in coverage of Osama bin Laden’s death. But some need to get a grip. Yes, Twitter often serves as something of a wire service. But stories that argue Twitter broke the news are reaching. A former Department of Defense staffer tweeted a rumor he’d heard and acknowledged it as such. A professional news outlet, however one defines that, generally is supposed to show greater restraint. Twitter is a place people go to like the corner bar and the front stoop to gossip, trade insults and discuss events of the day, and news outlets also use it as a platform. We don’t need to give it a Pulitzer yet. Before you dismiss me as an old-school hack, think about this. If Keith Urbahn, the former Defense Department staffer who made the initial tweet speculating on Osama bin Laden’s death was wrong, no one would say boo. If the New York Times, Los Angeles Times or CNN had done it and been wrong, it’d be a huge embarrassment and firing offense. An on-the-money rant from Ad Age.
It’s certanly not because people are reading more! Nielsen, the folks behind TV ratings, say that for the first time in 20 years the number of households owning televisions has declined. The decline is hardly dramatic. The often-criticized ratings company says the percentage of households with television has gone from 98.9% to 96.7% and attributes the drop to poor people who can’t afford new television sets and young people who are using their computers as televisions. Details on the research from the New York Times.
Using that logic, investors should flee from cable programmers and distributors as well. The Street says that although Sirius XM stock has risen dramatically in the last 12 months investors should be wary because ultimately the company charges consumers for something -- radio -- that they can get for free. Yes, that’s true. But isn’t that what cable TV does too? Sirius XM may be risky for a lot of reasons, but with about 20 million subscribers, the company has shown that consumers are willing to pay for radio.
A Universal exit. Deborah Liebling was ousted as president of production at Universal Pictures just as the studio finally had a huge hit in ‘Fast Five.’ She was only in the job for 18 months, and given the long lead time in movie production, one has to wonder how much of the studio’s struggles fall on her shoulders and how much was inherited. Analysis from the Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times.
And then there were two. It’s looking like a two-team race between the Gores brothers -- Tom’s Platinum Equity and Alec’s Gores Group -- and billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries for Warner Music Group. The New York Post tracks the action for the third-largest music company. Bidding right now is in the $3-billion neighborhood.
There’s a movie in here somewhere. The next James Bond movie will be so full of product placement that it would make even Morgan Spurlock’s head spin. According to the Australian, about $45 million will be spent on advertising in the movie.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Mary McNamara on the restraint of the coverage on Osama bin Laden. ‘Book of Mormon’ gets a ton of Tony Award nominations. The music industry tries to jump start the concert business.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I may not always be upbeat, but I’m not dull either! Twitter.com/JBFlint