The Morning Fix: News Corp. pulls plug on News of the World! Box office comedy battle. Can Web save soaps?
After the coffee. Before making sure my phone hasn't been hacked.
The Skinny: This was the longest four-day week I can remember. News Corp. is doing everything it can to put out the fire in the U.K. but the flames are only getting higher. "Horrible Bosses" will square off against "Zookeeper" at the box office and E! has a new president.
Stop the presses. Seriously! Facing a growing backlash from readers, advertisers and government officials, News Corp. said it would shut down its scandal-filled U.K. newspaper News of the World. The move comes after the paper had been shamed by revelations of extensive phone hacking of not only celebrities and royal family members, but regular citizens who were victims of crime. The decision is seen as an effort by News Corp. to try to keep alive its efforts to buy the 60% of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB that it doesn't own. Also, by closing News of the World, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch is opting to for now protect a couple of senior executives and family members rather than an iconic newspaper that was a cornerstone of the company. Coverage and analysis from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Daily Beast, Forbes, Advertising Age and The Guardian. The News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal has covered the mess with kid gloves and on Friday used five reporters to write a rather soft piece on James Murdoch, the family member on the front lines of the debacle.
"Horrible Bosses" or horrible-looking "Zookeeper"? This weekend's box office battle will be between comedies "Horrible Bosses" starring Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston, and "Zookeeper" with Kevin James. "Horrible Bosses" looks like one of those movies I'll leave thinking wasn't bad but could have been funnier. I'm pretty sure I'll just leave "Zookeeper." But if that's what I'm thinking, then bet the opposite way. Watch "Zookeeper" turn out to be a smash. Both movies are expected to finish behind the latest "Transformers." Preview from the Los Angeles Times.
Soap opera plot twist. In good news to soap fans, ABC has struck a deal with a company called Prospect Park to move the soaps "All My Children and "One Life to Live" to the Internet after their runs on the network end. However, pulling such a move off and maintaining the same standards of production online will be a big challenge. Soaps cost as much as $50 million a year and advertising on the Internet does not generate that kind of revenue. In the future, the Internet will become the gateway to television and certainly some brands could go from TV to the Web and work, but can two old soaps with small audiences pull it off creatively and financially? The New York Post broke the story. Analysis on how this will be easier said than done from the Los Angeles Times.
Double secret probation. The major Hollywood studios and producers and the nation's biggest broadband providers -- including Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon -- are teaming up on a new effort to fight piracy. As part of the initiative, consumers whose computers are found to be uploading or downloading stolen content will receive a series of increasingly intense warnings. However, the odds of anyone's Internet service actually being cut off for piracy activity is very long. Still, it marks a big step for content creators and Internet service providers, which often disagree on how to battle piracy. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.
Dismissed! A federal court tossed the Federal Communications Commission's plans to toss an old rule that prohibits a company from owning both a television station and a newspaper in the same market. Some companies, including Los Angeles Times parent Tribune and News Corp., have waivers and don't have to worry. There is great debate in the media industry about whether this rule has become outdated. Advocates for removing it argue that newspapers are struggling, and combining with a broadcaster could help, while opponents fear more media consolidation. But there are very few big media companies with TV stations looking to buy newspapers anyway. A relaxation of the rule would likely lead to deals in smaller towns where some papers are really on the brink of extinction. Coverage from Broadcasting & Cable and TV News Check.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I won't hack your phones, I'll just bribe your friends for dirt. Twitter.com/JBFlint