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Fox wraps upfront deals, Gannett buying Belo.

June 13, 2013|By Joe Flint
  • Unpaid interns on "Black Swan" got a big ruling.
Unpaid interns on "Black Swan" got a big ruling. (Fox Searchlight )

After the coffee. Before cleaning five days of mail off my desk.

The Skinny: I've been listening to a lot of Jackson Browne lately. Might explain the somber mood. Anyway, back in Los Angeles after five days in D.C. I'll miss family but not the humidity. Thursday's headlines include the latest on the upfront market, Gannett acquires Belo Corp. and the Tennis Channel chief executive regrets a late-night email to staff.

Daily Dose: After Gannett closes on its deal to acquire Belo Corp. (see below), it will own a lot of TV stations. But unlike most other recent broadcast mergers, it won't give Gannett a lot of situations where it owns more than one TV station in a given market. Cities where Gannett and Belo each own stations include St. Louis and Phoenix. Owning multiple stations in one market is seen as crucial for broadcasters as it gives them leverage with advertisers and pay-TV distributors as well as allows them to spread costs across multiple properties.

Out foxed. The Fox network finished selling commercial inventory for the fall TV season and took in almost $1.8 billion worth of commitments from advertisers. That is about an 8% drop from what the network sold last year. Fox is coming off a tough season that saw "American Idol" ratings tumble and few new hits emerge. Coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.   

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The big get bigger. Gannett Co. said early Thursday it was buying Belo Corp., parent of 20 TV stations, in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. After the acquisition closes, Gannett will own 43 TV stations reaching about one-third of the country. Gannett, already the biggest independent owner of NBC affiliates, will now become the largest operator of CBS affiliates. Ganett is paying $1.5 billion in cash and assuming about $700 million in debt. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Reuters.

Now they'll want bathroom breaks too. A federal Judge in New York ruled that movie producer Fox Searchlight violated labor laws by not paying interns who worked on the movie "Black Swan." The case has been closely watched by Hollywood because unpaid internships have long been seen as an entryway into the industry. It's also seen by some as cheap labor and an abuse of the system. More on the ruling from the New York Times.

Playing tough. The threat of so-called over-the-top pay-TV distribution systems may have some cable operators trying to figure out ways to cut deals with programmers that will make it difficult for the new competitors to get access to content. Cable operators took a similar approach when satellite TV emerged two decades ago. Then rules were put in place to try to put the kibosh on that practice. So far, no over-the-top provider has gone public with any complaints or accusations. Coverage from Bloomberg and Variety.

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Hard to get happy after that one. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas predicted a grim future for the movie industry as the obsession for blockbusters grows and Hollywood becomes more risk-averse. Lucas said movies such as Spielberg's "Lincoln" will end up on TV, which led Spielberg to chime in that the film almost did go to HBO. More on their remarks from the Hollywood Reporter.

Read it out loud next time before pressing send. Tennis Channel Chief Executive Ken Solomon apologized for a harsh email he sent to the network's staff after it lost a key court ruling to Comcast. Solomon mocked the court whose ruling means Comcast doesn't have to carry Tennis Channel in all its more than 21 million homes. He also said trying to do business with Comcast is akin to "being raped for a decade by a brutal captor." The memo was leaked to Deadspin. Additional coverage from the Los Angeles Times

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Kenneth Turan on "Man of Steel."

Follow me on Twitter. I work on planes for you people. @JBFlint.


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