PLANET MEDIA: Media Week's weekly news round-up

Catch up on the key media news of the past week.

PLANET MEDIA: Media Week's weekly news round-up
PLANET MEDIA: Media Week's weekly news round-up


The big story of the week was the multi billion dollar deal between NBC Universal and US cable TV giant Comcast to form a global media powerhouse spanning an array of US TV networks, Hollywood movie studios and international media properties such as Syfy channel, Hulu and Universal Pictures. Comcast and NBC Universal's majority owner General Electric are to form a joint venture that will be 51% owned by Comcast and 49% by GE. The companies said the venture "will be well positioned to compete in an increasingly dynamic and competitive media and digital environment". It will span assets such as Hulu, Bravo, Syfy, E!, CNBC, MSNBC and Universal Pictures. Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive of NBC Universal, will be chief executive of the new entity.


10 million - Freeview, the digital terrestrial TV service, is now the main TV service in 10 million UK homes.


"We are allowing our journalism - billions of dollars worth of it every year - to leak onto the internet. We are surrendering our hard-earned rights to the search engines and aggregators, and the out-and-out thieves of the digital age."

Les Hinton, chief executive of News Corporation's Dow Jones.



Five struck a content deal with YouTube that will see the broadcaster release more than 3,000 hours of full-length programmes free of charge on the Google-owned site. Five will be the second UK broadcaster to secure such a deal, after Channel 4, to show its full-length content free and on demand on YouTube.

MySpace is launching MySpace Music, its long-awaited music download and streaming service in the UK, as it looks to head off increasing competition from the likes of Spotify. Having already launched in the US, MySpace Music will enable users to access free, ad-funded audio and music videos.

O2 Media is expanding its sales team as it launches its first opt-in mobile service that will allow advertisers to target messages to customers for the first time. O2 More will deliver personalised campaigns for advertisers and give O2 customers access to a range of offers from 50 brands including Adidas, Blockbuster and Cadbury and Interflora.

SeeSaw, the online TV service to borne out of the remnants of Project Kangaroo, has secured BBC content ahead of its launch. SeeSaw has struck a content deal with BBC Worldwide that will make some of the BBC's full-length programmes available on-demand, for free when it launches.

Brian Sullivan, the BSkyB executive credited as the driving force behind the launch of its high-definition, 3D and Sky+ digital video recorder technologies, is to leave the company. Often dubbed the company's ‘gadget czar' or ‘inspector gadget' within the TV industry, Sullivan joined BSkyB in 1996 and has been pivotal in leading BSkyB to become one of the first pay TV operators worldwide to launch HD and DVR services. He will become deputy chief executive of Sky Deutschland on 1 January 2010, before taking over as chief executive from 1 April 2010.

Disney is to boost its content production presence across Europe, tripling its investment in animation that will lead to five new series aired across its portfolio of TV channels. The company will make extra investment in the production of TV animation across Europe in a bid to reflect the increasing importance of internationally sourced content for its portfolio of channels including, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Playhouse Disney.


About 40 BBC staff earning more than £150,000 will be forced to justify their salaries as part of a new government initiative to save £1.3bn over the next four years. Speaking ahead of Wednesday's (9 December) pre-Budget report, Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined the plan for public spending cuts and senior appointment approvals at the Royal Society in London. He said ministers had identified £3bn in additional efficiency savings since the Budget in April, to equate to £12bn in total savings, of which £1.3bn over four years would be achieved by streamlining. Senior BBC executives, along with other public sector workers including NHS bosses, local government chiefs, and COI's chief executive Mark Lund, will be asked to explain why they are worth so much.

CBS Outdoor has restructured its UK operations and integrated its sales team, resulting in the loss of around 25 jobs across the company. As part of the changes CBS Outdoor has integrated its traditional and digital sales forces, meaning that CBS Outdoor's sales team will now sell across all of CBS Outdoor's assets. The job losses have come from across all divisions of the company, including national sales and marketing.

Titan Outdoor is to pull its operation out of the Republic of Ireland at the end of the year, after reaching a mutual agreement with CIE, the national rail company, to surrender the CIE €100m outdoor media contract. CIE is to take its outdoor media in-house from 1 January 2010. A new company will take on most of Titan Outdoor's 40-odd staff and will be led by James Barry, current chief executive of Titan Outdoor in Ireland. The contracts and assets of Titan Outdoor Ireland, including billboard, malls and supermarkets not associated with CIE, will also be operated by the new company.

Dennis Publishing has acquired specialist car magazine and website Land Rover Monthly for an undisclosed sum. The magazine, formerly owned by Golden Gate Production Company, has been acquired with the aim of bolstering Dennis Publishing motoring portfolio that includes Auto Express, Evo and Octane.

Informa, the events and publishing group, has ended talks to acquire German publisher Springer. In a statement to the City, the company said that while there is "clear strategic logic in combining Springer and Informa", the "current environment is not conducive to making such a significant acquisition in the timescale required by the vendors". Last month, Informa disclosed that it had opened talks to buy Springer, adding that it had been given access to due diligence materials for a deal - the terms of which were not disclosed.

BBC Magazines has brokered five new international licensing deals for its controversial venture Lonely Planet Magazine, meaning that by the end of its first financial year there will be six different editions of the monthly publication in circulation.


Advertising expenditure in the UK has recovered faster than anticipated in the second half of this year, according to Martin Sorrell's GroupM, resulting in the group's first upward revision in 18 months for both 2009 and 2010. The amount of money spent on measured advertising in the UK is now expected to fall 12% this year, up from a 14% drop forecast in GroupM's midyear report in June. The revised forecast, part of GroupM's ‘This Year, Next Year' series, also tips ad spend in 2010 to remain static, as opposed to the -3 % contraction predicted six months ago.

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