Border authorities at the Lennart Meri Tallinn (Estonia) airport turned away two employees of Russian television channel Star (Zvezda) on checking documents. “The men came to Estonia on tourist visas,” said border police spokesperson Ilmar Kahro, quoted by postimees.es (July 25). “When questioned, they could not adequately explain the purpose of their trip and gave conflicting information.”
Press identification cards “in the Ukrainian language” were found in a “review” of their belongings. Within minutes Russian Federation Foreign Affairs Ministry human rights commissioner Konstantin Dolgov issued a statement complaining about the incident. “At this stage there is no reason for their detention. We will continue to strive for their immediate release, not excluding an appeal to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
The men were not detained and, presumably, allowed to return to Russia. TV channel Star is a national network operated by the Russian Ministry of Defense. RAI Novosti indicated the men intended to report on a World War II veteran’s reunion, the tourist visa issue, apparently, incidental.
Big change is again the theme for French radio broadcasters. Médiamétrie’s Greater Paris (Il de France – IDF) audience estimates released this week showed some of the same changes seen in the national April-June radio survey (see report here) and a few new ones.
As with the national April-June radio audience estimates legacy general interest national channel plunged in the IDF survey, still ranked number one but falling 11.5% from 13.8% one year on. National news-talk channel Europe 1 moved into second place with 10.9% market share, up from 9.8%. Public general interest channel France Inter fell to 9.8% market share and 3rd place from 9.9%. News-talk channel RMC tumbled to 6.8% market share from 8.6% year on year. All-news public channel France Info dropped to its lowest IDF market share in more than a decade, 3.9% from 5.0%. The statutory national general interest channels on aggregate fell to 40.1% market share from 43.3%.
National music channels were also hurt, dropping to 26.1% aggregated market share in the IDF from 27.1% one year on. NRJ kept 5th place with 5.6% market share, up from 5.1%. Skyrock, which typically scores better in the IDF audience estimates than in the national survey was also up a slice to 4.3% market share and 6th place. (See France IDF audience trend chart here)
Screaming up the chart – figuratively, certainly not literally – was Radio Classique to 7th place and 4.1% market share from 11th. Radio Classique is a national channel owned by luxury goods marketer LVMH broadcasting classical music with quite tasteful brief news. Public classical music and arts channel France Musique was slightly lower at 0.9% market share while mostly speech-based France Culture gained notably, 2.5% market share from 2.1%.
Among the rest of the national music channels RFM and RTL2 were up rather significantly, though still at the back of the list. NRJ Group channels Nostalgie, Cherie FM and Rire & Chansons were all down.
Local stations on aggregate gained very significantly, up to 18.0% market share from 14.8%. Radio Latina, Oui FM, Tropiques FM and TSF Jazz were all up more than a slice.
The holiday season has arrived, for many, or it’s fast approaching. Thoughts turn to family, friends, beaches, mountains… all kinds of fun things. Many Scandinavians are leaving social media at home.
More than two out of five people in Sweden (42%) will not be using social media while on holiday, says a study for online travel portal Momondo, reported dagensmedia.se (July 23). There is, however, a considerable age and gender gap. About two-thirds of 18 to 35 year olds in Sweden and the same proportion of women will, indeed, be checking in with Facebook, Instagram and all the rest.
Interviewed for the survey were people from 12 countries. Danes, those happy people, are least likely to check social media updates while on holiday, three out of five Danes taking a break from Facebook friends. The Spanish and Italians, it seems, are most likely to be on social media this holiday season.
Media watchers of the financial kind roundly predicted, on the 21st Century Fox bid for Time Warner, a veritable rush for big deals. And, so it seems.
Forbes Media, publisher of the euphonious magazine famous for ranking the rich and famous, has sold a controlling stake to Hong Kong investment consortium Integrated Whale. Don’t you just love the name? So 21st Century, yes?
The deal values the company at US$475 million, reported Reuters. Specifics were not exactly forthcoming but VC Elevation Partners, 45% shareholder, exits. Forbes Media top executives, including grandson of founder Steve Forbes, will keep their jobs. Forbes magazine is nearly a century old. Big German media house Axel Springer, which publishes the Russian edition of Forbes, kicked the tires and walked away.
Private equity owners of giant US Spanish-language broadcaster Univision are looking for a cash-out in the vicinity of US$20 billion, reported the Wall Street Journal (July 15). Disney and, of course, Time Warner are expected to bid. Mexican pay-TV operator Grupo Televisa holds a 38% stake in Univision on a waiver of foreign ownership rules capped at 25%.
Morgan Stanley investment bank acquired just under 5% equity in big Spanish media house Prisa, becoming the second biggest shareholder after the founding Polanco family. America Movil principal owner Carlos Slim, the world’s second richest person, holds roughly a 3% stake in Prisa and is a fierce competitor of the aforementioned Grupo Televisa.
UK and Ireland pay-TV operator BSkyB, principally owned by 21st Century Fox, is ready to finalize acquisition of Sky Italia, wholly owned by 21st Century Fox, and Sky Deutschland, mostly owned by 21st Century Fox, reported Reuters (July 21). It will be about US$10 billion shifting from one Fox spreadsheet to another.
Credibility is a sensitive issue with news media and journalists, at least it that’s the conventional belief. Sensationalism and opinion, however, sells. Examples could – and do – fill textbooks.
“It has never been considered appropriate that reporting includes commenting,” observed Norwegian Broadcasting Council chairman and former Norwegian Press Association president Per Edgar Kokkvold to dagen.no (July 22). Media critics in Norway have condemned in recent days reporters for Norwegian public broadcaster NRK and private channel TV2 for personal observations on social media regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. A CNN reporter covering Gaza conflict was “sent home” after posting a disparaging comment on Twitter about Israeli military units.
“Journalists are encouraged by editors to be active on social media,” he continued. “All editors now emphasize bi-directional communication with readers, listeners and viewers. In my opinion, this has gone too far. We have become slaves to the public, as dangerous as being slaves to the (political) parties.”
Those social media comments can affect credibility, he offered, “if journalists forget that they will be perceived as journalists as long as they are in the public domain, news people cannot opt out.”
Social media and tabloid newspapers scrape the bottom of the credibility barrel, in a survey of “public perceptions of impartiality and trustworthiness” of UK news providers, conducted in February by IPSOS Mori for the BBC and included in the BBC annual report, quoted by the Press Gazette (July 22). Major UK television channels, including the BBC, and the Financial Times led the public perception of trustworthiness.
Social Hackers have become an investment opportunity for big Polish media house Agora Group. Three-year old Social Hackers is a social media advertising optimizer, which means it helps folks get their messages on YouTube, blogs and such. It displays message effectiveness through the website hash.fm.
Agora Group has acquired 49.45% of Social Hackers in a share swap with an agreement to raise the stake if everything works out sometime in the future. “Social Hackers is an original idea, responding to changes in the media world in which opinion leaders are beginning to compete for the advertising budgets of large publishers,” explained Agora Internet director Pawel Wujec, in a statement. Agora Group publishes national daily Gazeta Wyborcza, many magazines and operates national and regional radio stations as well as a slew of related and unrelated internet portals. (See more about media in Poland here)
“Agora… is for us the ideal partner,” said Social Hackers founder Konrad Traczyk, who remains as managing director. The companies will remain in separate locations for obvious reasons.
The media sector in Croatia is in a fragile condition. The “collapse” of two newspaper publishers under questionable management and enormous debt leaves some media watchers questioning the sector’s survival. New owners, they say, are part of the same problem.
“The concentration of ownership, often extending beyond the media industry, makes the companies seem untouchable,” said Zagreb University professor Dean Duda to Deutsche Welle Croatian service (July 15). “The collapse of the media is a collapse in the media.” Everybody is to blame, he said, including “media workers carried away with their own importance.” (See more about media in Croatia here)
Banks, as chief creditors, have taken over; Hypo Alpe Adria Bank claimed 90% ownership of Europapress Holdings (EPH), Zagrebacka Banka swapped debt for 80% equity in Rijeka regional newspaper Novi list and associated newspapers owned by Albert Faggian. In June a district prosecutor’s office opened an investigation of Mr. Faggian and two associates in the publishing venture for “abuse of trust in business transactions,” known plainly as dicey dealings. Zagrebacka Banka, owned by UniCredit of Italy, said it has no intention of holding the newspaper publisher in the long term.
EPH owns newspapers Jutarnji list, Slobodna Dalmacija, Sportske novosti, magazines Globus and Gloriju and various related and unrelated online portals. German publisher WAZ Group had owned a 50% share in EPH, now reduced to 5%. Lawyer and serial investor Marijan Hanzekovic is attempting to acquire a majority interest in EPH from Hypo Alpe Adria Bank through his Euro Poticaji holding company, first announced in February. His law firm, Hanzekovic & Partners, is considered Croatia’s biggest, specializing in collections. One lucrative client has been Croatian public broadcaster HRT, which under current law can seize bank accounts for non-payment of the household license fee.
The Zagreb Commercial Court approved a settlement with debtors earlier this month. The Croatian Agency for Protection of Competition (AZTN) has called for public comments, reported Poslovni dnevnik (July 18). EPH founder and once 50% shareholder Ninoslav Pavic continues to hold 5% of the company.
“The ongoing crisis is the result of a combination of the contracted advertising market, reflecting the overall financial crisis, managers incapable of coping with new market circumstances and the public’s sagging trust in media stemming from the trivialization of content, as usual the last resort of print media managers with no vision,” wrote former president of the Croatian Association of Publishers Ante Gavranovic for the IREX 2104 MSI report.
From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File
Spain’s commercial broadcasters are still complaining about pirate stations. They’d still like the government to do something about what they estimate as three thousand unlicensed broadcasters. The illegals are causing, they say, a huge technical problem.
“We must demand from the public administration, once and for all, a ‘D-day’ for the closure of illegal broadcasting,” said commercial broadcaster’s association (AERC) president Javier Gonzalez at the close of the group’s general assembly, reported El Mundo. (July 15). “When we are surrounded by interfering illegal stations we, who are legal, must over-ride the signal so people can hear us. We pay our taxes. We give a lot to our workers.” (See more about media in Spain here)
It seems the big commercial channels have been boosting output power on their FM transmitters, which has led to hefty fines. “We have no interest in putting our signals into Morocco or Algeria,” explained Sr. Gonzalez. “There’s no advertising in these regions.”
Music and performance rights fees were also – as always – a point of contention. AERC members complained of “discriminatory treatment” from collecting agencies charging lower fees to public broadcasters.
When it comes to headlines in the media world, nobody splashes bigger than Rupert Murdoch. The giga-billion bid by 21st Century Fox for Time Warner – rejected, so far – attracted considerable attention; financial analysts over the moon, media analysts slightly more muted and consumer advocates horrified. Should it succeed the Murdoch family would add a major Hollywood studio (Warner Bros), hugely successful TV network (HBO) and a huge stable of sports rights holdings to its already highly profitable business.
For institutional investors and other money people deal-flow in the media sector means more money in their pockets. Some noted – correctly – that consolidation in the distribution business – telecoms expanding into TV – is being met with consolidation in the content sector, each looking for leverage over the other. Media watchers hear echos of the News Corporation – before entertainment was split from newspapers – acquisition of Dow Jones; over-priced, value written-down, the Wall Street Journal considerably diminished. (See more on Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation here) Others see the crusade to acquire Time Warner as just another “rosebud” moment.
There’s no reason for Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to sell, pressure from institutional investors looking for a cash-out notwithstanding. Time Warner is off-loading its cable business to Comcast, which gobbled up NBCUniversal creating a huge vertical and horizontal media business. (See IfM 2014 ranking of global media companies here) Time Warner is considered well-run and “disciplined” while the Murdoch family is mired in succession issues.
The European interest in all this, aside from long-standing attention to all things involving Rupert Murdoch, is the expressed intention of creating a Sky Europe pay-TV network, combining BSkyB in the UK and Ireland with Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. BSkyB off-loaded its small but not insignificant stake in UK TV operator ITV this week to Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media, suggested as a precursor to the creation of Sky Europe. Last year Time Warner took control of CME, the major television operator in Central and Eastern Europe. It’s another possibility for convergence.
As it usually happens, once institutional investors and their financial advisors start to smell money in the water the temperature rises considerably. Hints that Google, Apple or Amazon might bid for Time Warner to cement content strategies aren’t completely crazy. Maybe we can watch “Money Never Sleeps” on Netflix this afternoon.
Surge for contemporary music channels
Dearth for news
Portugal’s two biggest nation radio channels are only bigger, according to the March-June Bareme Radio/Marktest survey. Grupo Renascenca (R/Com) channels held aggregate market share leadership over Media Capital Radios (MCR) channels; 36.4% vs. 33.7%, respectively. Total weekly reach was unchanged year on year at 80.9%.
Radio Comercial (MCR) held the top position with 23.0%, up from 20.3% year on year. Second place, again, went to RFM (R/Com) with 21.2%, up from 17.8%. Both are contemporary music channels. (See Portugal national audience trend chart here)
General interest channel Radio Renascenca (R/Com) placed third, falling to 8.2% market share from 9.5% one year on. Pop/dance music channel Mega Hits (R/Com) added a full point, 4.3% market share and 6th place. Oldies music channel M80 (MCR) dropped to 5.4% market share from 6.7%.
Public general interest channel RTP Antena 1 held 4th place, off slightly to 6.7% market share. Contemporary/alternative music channel RTP Antena 3 dropped to 2.8% market share from 4.0%, not recovering from a format change last year.
News-talk channel TSF (Controlinveste) showed the biggest audience deficit, falling to 3.8% market share from 5.3% year on year but holding 7th place in the national rankings.