Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat, Oct.18, 2021

Rogers family feud complicates $1.6B Shaw deal

Rogers Communications Inc. Chairman Edward Rogers had a plan that would have seen as many as nine of 11 senior executives leave, but it was blocked by members of his own family who feared the move would create chaos just as the Canadian company tries to close a US$16-billion takeover.

The plan to remove Chief Executive Officer Joe Natale and most of the company’s senior team was shot down at a Rogers board meeting last month, leaving a fractured family that pits Edward Rogers against his sisters, Melinda Rogers-Hixon and Martha Rogers, the children of late founder Ted Rogers, and Loretta Rogers, Ted’s widow. – Derek Decloet, Bloomberg News

Q&A with Rogers Communications’ Loretta Rogers

Rogers Communications Inc. co-founder and director Loretta Rogers, the widow of Ted Rogers, responded to e-mailed questions from The Globe and Mail about the power struggle at Canada’s biggest wireless carrier. Her son Edward, Rogers’ chair, attempted to remove CEO Joe Natale and other executives from the company, but was rebuffed as his sister Melinda Rogers and other directors stood in support of them. – Alexandra Posadzki, The Globe and Mail

Torstar announces equity partnership between iPolitics and Mainstreet Research

Torstar Corp has announced that Mainstreet Research has become an equity partner with Ottawa-based digital news outlet iPolitics.

Under the partnership, Mainstreet is working with iPolitics to provide political and public policy coverage of federal and provincial affairs, including future elections. – PR handout

AC, West Jet among the list of airlines that offer inflight WiFi

Air Canada offers a $14 all day pass and a one-hour rate of $5 on some flight. West Jet offers a 30-minute pass, a 3-hour pass, and a complete in-flight pass that can cost as much as US$16.

“There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century” with Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill, top Russia adviser in the Trump administration, talked about her book, There Is Nothing for You Here.

Netflix's Squid Game estimated to be worth about US$900M

Squid Game,” Netflix’s biggest original series launch, is estimated to be worth almost $900M for the streaming giant, Bloomberg News reported late on Saturday, citing figures from an internal Netflix document.

In comparison to its estimated net worth, the show cost just $21.4 million to produce, Bloomberg said. – Reuters

An oral history of WMMS, Cleveland's legendary radio station 

It didn't take long for WMMS to turn into a juggernaut after making its debut on Sept. 28, 1968. Thanks to its forward-thinking staff, it took the progressive rock format of the 1960s and 1970s to the limit and played acts that would go on to national acclaim and popularity well before other commercial stations embraced them.

Throughout the '70s and into the '80s, the ratings soared, and the station became synonymous with rock 'n' roll in Cleveland. Its program directors and DJs would go to great lengths to obtain exclusive tracks from acts such as Fleetwood Mac, whose hit album Rumours sold one million copies in the Cleveland area alone. WMMS played David Bowie's "Space Oddity" well before other stations in the country would play anything by the Thin White Duke, and after embracing Bruce Springsteen early in his career, WMMS built a library of his unreleased tracks that no other station had.

WMMS DJs interviewed then-little-known acts such as U2 and John Cougar Mellencamp when they came through town, many of which would play the station's fabled Coffee Break Concert series too.

But after key personnel left WMMS in the late '80s and early '90s, the station lost its dominance and its ability to shape listeners' taste in music. Its credibility took a hit too. In 1988, it admitted to stuffing the Rolling Stone ballots to win the annual Rolling Stone Readers' Poll for Radio Station of the Year. Also, during a 1994 broadcast of The Howard Stern Show, which aired on rival station WNCX, WMMS engineer William Alford cut the cable to the broadcast, committing a felony in the process. – Matt Wardlaw & Jeff Niesel, Scene

A secretive hedge fund is gutting newspapers

The 21st century has seen many of these generational owners flee the industry, to devastating effect. In the past 15 years, more than a quarter of American newspapers have gone out of business. Those that have survived are smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable to acquisition. Today, half of all daily newspapers in the U.S. are controlled by financial firms, according to an analysis by the Financial Times, and the number is almost certain to grow.

What threatens local newspapers now is not just digital disruption or abstract market forces. They’re being targeted by investors who have figured out how to get rich by strip-mining local-news outfits. The model is simple: Gut the staff, sell the real estate, jack up subscription prices, and wring as much cash as possible out of the enterprise… –McKay Coppins, The Atlantic

This is how a newspaper dies

For a preview of the newspaper industry’s coming death, turn your gaze to Colorado, where the withering and emaciated Denver Post finds itself rolling in profits.

The Post’s controlling owner, “vulture capitalist” Randall Smith, has become journalism’s No. 1 villain for having cheapened and starved not just its Denver paper but many of the titles—including the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the San Jose Mercury News and the Orange County Register—that his firm, Alden Global Capital, operates through the Digital First Media chain. At the Post, Smith’s firm cut the newsroom from 184 journalists to 99 between 2012 and 2017, Bloomberg News’ Joe Nocera writes. Over the same time, Smith’s Pottstown Mercury fell from 73 journos to 10 while its Norristown Times-Herald went 45 to 12. And the cuts just keep on coming. For newspaper lovers, the cuts have been a disaster. – Jack Shafer, Politico

How many Palm Beach mansions does a Wall Street tycoon need?

In 2013, a reclusive New York tycoon and his wife began buying up expensive Palm Beach real estate—lots of it. First, they bought seven mansions for a total of $23 million. Then another four “moderately priced” homes for $8.4 million. Then five more for $23 million. None of them were purchased in the tycoon’s name. They weren’t purchased in his wife’s name, either. Instead, the homes were deeded to limited-liability companies, including L. Jakes LLC and 124 Coconut Row LLC.

Think of those luxury homes as the shuttered offices and fired workers of hometown newspapers across the United States, because gutting those newspapers helped make spending $57.2 million on 16 Palm Beach mansions a trifling expense for the tycoon. – Julie Reynolds, The Nation

The great ‘resignation’ is accelerating

“Quits,” as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them, are rising in almost every industry. For those in leisure and hospitality, especially, the workplace must feel like one giant revolving door. Nearly 7 percent of employees in the “accommodations and food services” sector left their job in August. That means one in 14 hotel clerks, restaurant servers, and barbacks said sayonara in a single month. Thanks to several pandemic-relief checks, a rent moratorium, and student-loan forgiveness, everybody, particularly if they are young and have a low income, has more freedom to quit jobs they hate and hop to something else. – Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Ten years ago, a dumb viral hoax heralded an age of internet clownery

the Balloon Boy saga bore the hallmarks of the bullshit that has consumed digital culture ever since. You had lightning-fast monetization in the form commemorative T-shirts, the half-baked parody accounts and amused commentators, who were scolded by those genuinely worried for the kid’s safety, who were in turn mocked by those deducing that the flimsy contraption floating through the atmosphere couldn’t carry the weight of a human, even a small one. – Miles Klee, MEL

And here's a clip from a Denver TV station reporting on the Balloon Boy hoax a decade after the fact.

A parody film trailer a that mimics how people are reacting to the pandemic

Steve Jobs introduces iPhone in 2007

Shitposters aren’t buying ‘Havana Syndrome’ for a single second

To the true believers, Havana syndrome is a real, newly observed and debilitating illness that could be caused by a hostile foreign actor using sonic or microwave weapons against representatives of the state. To the seasoned skeptics of the web, however, it’s just a bunch of paranoid spies and over stressed agents of the American empire concocting a sci-fi explanation for common migraines, nausea and fatigue, with far too many journalists willing to lend these ludicrous ideas any credence. – Miles Klee, MEL

Leave a comment