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The Morning Fix: Comcast, Time Warner results. Burkle eyes Variety.

August 01, 2012|By Joe Flint
  • Thanks to thrilling performances from U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas and others, NBC may break even on the Olympics.
Thanks to thrilling performances from U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas… (MCT )

After the coffee. Before figuring out if it is too late to become an Olympic swimmer.

The Skinny: A lot going on for a Wednesday in August. Time Warner and Comcast both posted their quarterly results. Carl Icahn is selling out of MGM. NBC is finding friends for its Olympic coverage and the Games may even break even for the network. All that and more in this edition of the Morning Fix.

Daily Dose: Cable subscribers in Ohio and Kentucky who were enjoying the NFL Network and NFL RedZone are losing the channels starting today (Wednesday). That's because Time Warner Cable is taking over as the owner of systems previously held by Insight Communications. While Insight had a deal with the NFL, Time Warner Cable as yet does not, and the contract won't be transferred. Time Warner Cable is the largest distributor to not have a deal with the NFL for the channels.

I'm out of here. Carl Icahn is done with Hollywood, at least for now. The investor has sold his 25% stake in MGM back to the studio in an agreement worth almost $600 million. That move followed Icahn's 2011 sale of his stake in Lions Gate. At one point Icahn was hoping to merge MGM with Lions Gate but his plans failed to gain momentum. He doesn't have to feel like a failure, though. Icahn got a 20% premium for his stake in MGM. MGM has indicated it is considering an initial public offering, and getting Icahn out of the picture is probably a first step toward that. More from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Backlash against the backlash. First the media attacks NBC for its coverage of the London Olympics and the decision to only offer live coverage on the Web and air a package of tape-delayed events in prime time. Then, right on schedule, come the stories attacking those attacking NBC. Yes, there are lots of complaints about the job NBC is doing with the Games on the social website Twitter. But as Sports on Earth writer Will Leitch notes in his piece "NBC Is Ignoring Twitter Diehards — And Rightfully So," that is an incredibly small group that is screaming at one another and creating a huge echo chamber that the media overreacts to on a regular basis. Additional contrarian thinking about NBC's coverage from Advertising Age and Variety. Even the parody news site the Onion got into the act with this headline: "Sorry We Didn't Alter the Laws of Space and Time to Accommodate People's Schedules."

Slow quarter. Time Warner released its second-quarter results early Wednesday and said profits fell to $430 million from $638 million compared with the quarter a year ago. The declines were attributed to a weaker performance from Warner Bros. and its publishing unit. Revenue was up at its cable network unit. Early coverage from Bloomberg and Reuters.

Comcast scores. Cable giant Comcast saw its second-quarter profits rise to $1.35 billion, a 32% jump. The gains came from increases in its phone and Internet subscribers and a lower-than-expected decline in video subscribers. However, the NBCUniversal unit continues to struggle as the movie "Battleship" helped sink the numbers. A look at the quarter from CNBC. On the plus side, on Comcast's earnings call, the company said it could break even on the Olympics. Previously, NBC had said it expected to lose money on the games.

Supermarket mogul eyes Hollywood rag! That was my bad attempt at a Variety-style headline at 7 a.m. The trade paper (which I toiled at many years ago) is up for sale and Ron Burkle has emerged as the top contender and is apparently willing to pay $40 million for it, according to the Los Angeles Times. Variety, once the dominant source of Hollywood news, has struggled in recent years (who hasn't?). Still, it has an iconic brand name. No one's asking, but I think the folks who operate Politico should make a run at Variety.

Let's get serious. Although summer is full of fantasy and superheroes, the fall movie season is about drama. That's because the kids are back in school and the Oscar voters are starting to pay attention as they prepare their votes. The New York Times looks at the serious and somewhat grim tone of many of the movies coming out in the months ahead.

Like father, like son. Producer Hawk Koch is the new president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. His father, the famed filmmaker Howard Koch, ran the academy for two stints in the 1970s. Details on the election results from Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Prolific writer Gore Vidal died at the age of 86.

Follow me on Twitter. No Olympic spoilers from me. Twitter.com/JBFlint

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