How ViacomCBS Is Managing The Transition From Linear TV To Streaming

A year after the merger of Viacom and CBS in December 2019, the combined company is in the process of remaking itself from a media conglomerate with a business primarily based in traditional channels like linear TV and theatrical films into one whose operations are oriented around streaming. What the company will look like on the other side of that shift remains to be seen, but out of economic necessity, ViacomCBS in the future will need to look different than its current incarnation.

Hearst Ups John Robertson To Distribution VP

He will now oversee the company’s relationships with OTT distributors and its NextGen TV applications.

GoCom Illinois Stations Dark To Cable One Subs

Cable One/Sparklight said its customers in the Springfield-Urbana, Ill., area lost access to three GoCom Media stations on Dec. 31 after retransmission consent talks broke down, adding that it is still in talks regarding two other nearby stations owned by Block Communications and Sinclair Broadcast Group. GoCom owns Fox affiliate WSRP-WCCU in Springfield, as well as WBUI (CW) in the same area. The stations are managed by Sinclair through a joint services/shared services agreement.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

Tegna Stations Go Dark To Mediacom

About 16 Tegna stations in 11 states went dark to Mediacom Communications customers Dec. 31, after the parties failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement. Mediacom said its contract for the stations expired at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31, at which time it was forced to stop carrying the stations, even though it had offered to pay what the cable company called a “significant” increase over its previous agreement. The stations are ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and CW affiliates located in about a dozen states, including Mediacom’s biggest markets in Iowa (Des Moines, Davenport and Ames).

Nielsen, Tegna Renew Multi-Year Agreement

The new deal provides measurement of digital linear audiences across all Tegna markets.

NAB Joins COVID Collaborative

The National Association of Broadcasters has joined the COVID Collaborative, which comprises groups and experts working on a unified approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. NAB President Gordon Smith will serve as a member of the collaborative’s advisory council.

CLOSING BELL

Dow Drops 383, Nasdaq Closes Down 190

Stocks fell Monday. The S&P 500, which ended 2020 at an all-time high, slid 1.5% after earlier dropping as much as 2.5%. It was the benchmark index’s biggest decline since late October. Technology companies accounted for a big share of the sell-off, along with industrial, communication services, health care and other stocks. Only the S&P 500’s energy sector managed to eked out a gain.

How Google Is Hurting Local News

An audit reveals that Google News sends readers — and advertising dollars — away from local news outlets.

Verizon, Hearst Avoid Retrans Blackout

Verizon and Hearst Television reached a distribution agreement to stave off a New Year’s Day blackout of the broadcasting group’s nine channels on Fios TV in five markets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The telco had alleged Hearst TV was demanding price hikes of more than 45% to carry the local channels. The companies’ previous carriage pact expired Dec. 31.

Google Employees Announce Creation Of Union

Tegna And NBC Renew Affiliation Agreement

The new deal covers 20 markets that cover 17% of the U.S. Tegna is the largest independent owner of NBC affiliates.

Nielsen Signs Measurement Deal With Multilingual KTSF

Roku Near Deal To Buy Quibi’s Content Library

Quibi is in advanced talks to sell its content catalog to Roku, as the short-form streaming service winds down its operations following an unsuccessful run.

On-Set Commercial Production Halted In So. Cal.

On-set commercial production has been shuttered temporarily in Southern California because of surging coronavirus outbreaks in the region, effective immediately. The major studios and streamers, meanwhile, are already on production hiatus in Southern California until mid-January. The agreement to halt local commercial production was announced Sunday night by SAG-AFTRA, the Producer Guild of America and the Joint Policy Committee of the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Ofelia Castiblanco Named WPIX Station Manager

Mission Broadcasting has promoted Ofelia Castiblanco to station manager and community affairs director of its newly acquired WPIX New York. This comes on the heels of Mission’s acquisition of the station from E.W. Scripps Co. on Dec. 30, 2020. Castiblanco became the station’s community affairs director in January 2020. Just prior to joining the station, […]

Disney Lobbyist Richard Bates Dies

Richard M. Bates, longtime senior vice president, U.S. government relations for the Walt Disney Co., has died. Since 2010, Bates oversaw Disney’s interactions with federal and state government entities and trade associations. He was a 29-year Disney veteran. Prior to working for Disney, Bates served as executive director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. IT’S ABOUT TIME

One year ago, the world was a very different place. Let’s hope — and work — for the new year to bring much-needed solutions and relief. TVNewsCheck will recuperate and mark the occasion by not sending out our PM newsletter today or any tomorrow. We’ll be back Monday, Jan. 4. See you on the other side.

Amazon Buys Wondery As Podcasting Race Continues

The deal, valued at $300 million, is the latest in a string of acquisitions as streaming platforms expand beyond music and video.

Alden Global Seeks To Buy Tribune Publishing

The hedge fund, which already owns a big stake in Tribune Publishing, could disclose an offer for the newspaper chain as soon as today, according to people familiar with the matter.

Television’s Tops Of 2020

2020 was not, by any standard, a typical year. Even the linear television universe, a familiar and cyclical staple of media, saw its fair share of oddities. Halts in production of new and existing shows, delays in fall TV season premieres and an overall sense of time lost became realities as Americans were forced to recalibrate to spending more time at home for the good of public health and their communities. And in all likelihood, the atypical nature of the year will be profound enough to drive permanent shifts in consumer behavior, including media consumption. In fact, we’re already seeing them.

WME’s Injunction Request To End Writers Guild Boycott Denied By Judge

Judge Rules For Fairness Review In ViacomCBS Merger Shareholder Lawsuit

The 2019 Viacom-CBS merger will undergo strict legal scrutiny now that a Delaware Chancery Court judge has allowed a lawsuit to proceed from shareholders who say they were shortchanged in the transaction because of pressure applied by ViacomCBS controlling shareholder Shari Redstone.

TVN FOCUS: YEAR IN REVIEW

As 2020 Fades To Black, We Say Goodbye

This year, TVNewsCheck reported on the deaths of outstanding men and women who shaped television as actors, lawmakers, producers, business people, journalists and on-air personalities. Here’s a look back at some of those influencers.

CLOSING BELL

Dow Moves Up 74, Nasdaq Picks Up 20

The S&P 500 inched up 0.1% on Wednesday, recovering some of its losses from a day earlier. Energy and materials companies led the gains. Industrial and financial stocks also had a strong showing. Communication services stocks fell the most. Roughly 73% of stocks in the S&P 500 rose. Treasury yields mostly fell.

Scripps Completes Sale Of WPIX To Mission

Scripps purchased WPIX as part of its acquisition of eight television stations in seven markets from Nexstar. Those stations were being divested in connection with Nexstar Media Group’s acquisition of Tribune Media in September 2019. Scripps granted Nexstar the option to buy back WPIX. The option expired at the end of 2021. Nexstar assigned its option to Mission Broadcasting, and Mission exercised the option.

NEWS ANALYSIS

AT&T’s Reluctance To Sell DirecTV Is A Red Flag

AT&T should take the lowball offer, streamline its business and learn from its mistakes.

How ViacomCBS Has Sharpened Its Streaming Focus

CEO Bob Bakish and his team have started getting credit for acquisitions, and sales of non-core assets, at attractive price tags that have transformed the company beyond the big merger that created it. In early 2021, it will detail how all its assets fit into its streaming strategy.

Verizon Warns Hearst Signals Could Come Down

Per FCC rules, Verizon has started warning Fios customers they may lose access to Hearst Television stations at month’s end. Verizon said Hearst is demanding “unreasonably large” increases in retransmission consent fees that may force Verizon to raise rates for its customers.

WRAL-WRAZ Raleigh, N.C., Now Off Dish

The Capitol Broadcasting duopoly has been pulled from the satellite service after a carriage extension expired with no new deal in place.

CLOSING BELL

Dow Drops 68, Nasdaq Closes Down 49

Stocks fell Tuesday as investors turned cautious. Investors shifted money away from technology companies, which have been among of the biggest winners since the pandemic began. Industrial and financial stocks also fell broadly. Those losses outweighed gains in health care stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending.