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Cablevision and Viacom declare war! DreamWorks has rough quarter.

The Morning Fix

February 27, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • "Rise of the Guardians" caused a financial fall for DreamWorks Animation.
"Rise of the Guardians" caused a financial fall for DreamWorks… (DreamWorks Animation )

After the coffee. Before seeing my accountant.

The Skinny: I finally got a new BlackBerry. Laugh away, but I like having a keypad. Wednesday's stories include the start of a civil war in the TV business, a look at new Dodgers owner Guggenheim Partners, and DreamWorks taking a big write-down. 

Daily Dose: The battle among business news channels is heating up. In recent weeks, CNBC bookers (the folks who line up guests) have been telling people they can't come on CNBC if they also go on Fox Business or Bloomberg. Now Fox Business is running an advertisement mocking CNBC: "Does CNBC really think they can order CEOs around?" it asks. Can't they all just get along.

Challenging the bundle. New York-based cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp. is taking legal action in an effort to change the way programmers sell networks to distributors. Cablevision filed suit against Viacom Corp., charging that Viacom forces it to carry low-rated networks in return for access to strong channels such as MTV and Comedy Central. The practice, known as bundling in the industry, is commonplace, and most distributors see it as a cost of doing business. Cablevision says Viacom's bundling is illegal, which Viacom denies. Several other distributors have issued statements of support for Cablevision. Whether a win could mean more choice for consumers remains to be seen. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

Bad dream. DreamWorks Animation said it was taking an $87-million fourth quarter write-down on its movie "Rise of the Guardians," which turned out to be a big disappointment for the studio. DreamWorks also took a charge of $54 million related to putting the movie "Me & My Shadow" back in development. That move follows plans to cut staff by as much as 20% in connection with pulling the plug on "Me & My Shadow." More from the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Deep pockets. Guggenheim Partners, the investment firm that shelled out more than $2 billion for the Dodgers and close to $400 million for Dick Clark Productions, is still hungry for sports and entertainment companies. Fortune goes behind the scenes of Guggenheim and also reveals that its ties with former junk bond king Michael Milken are raising eyebrows with regulators.

Another delay. The Federal Communications Commission is again putting on hold plans to relax rules regarding the ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same city. The regulatory agency wants to make it easier for one company to own both a print outlet and a broadcast station, but media activists are concerned about consolidation. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the commission will wait for a study by the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council on the effects relaxing that rule would have on media diversity. Details from Broadcasting & Cable and Adweek

Giant slayed? If you're like me, you've seen ads for the movie "Jack the Giant Slayer" and wondered, "What the heck is this?" Apparently a lot of folks around town are wondering the same thing. The Warner Bros. movie, which opens this weekend, is not tracking very well, and the folks behind it may be looking for a beanstalk to climb to hide out for a while. The Hollywood Reporter on whether "Jack the Giant Slayer" will make a big impression.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Oscars producers Craig Zaden and Neil Meron reflect on Sunday's broadcast.

Follow me on Twitter. I get better with age. @JBFlint.

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