The National 19 October 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the proposed takeover of satellite TV giant Sky by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. Ten months since Fox’s initial offer, spearheaded by Rupert Murdoch and his son James, the conglomerate is still waiting. Although the European Commission gave the deal its blessing back in April, the British government is yet to sign off on it, after the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation last week. The question now is, will the deal go through?. Alice believes that it will be approved, albeit with conditions. She said “opponents say Mr Murdoch already exercises too much control. How can we hand him more?. But there is an obvious remedy here. It’s called a buffer between the Murdoch family trust and Sky News … including creating a fully independent editorial board, and strict editorial guidelines. Indeed, that’s what 21st Century Fox offered to Ofcom already”. As for criticism about the level of government scrutiny over the deal, Alice said “I think [the scrutiny] is abso¬lutely fair enough, that’s the whole purpose of having a regime. What we hope is that we have safeguards in the system, that in the media merger regime work. No one is afraid of it. What they’re afraid of is the reverse – that there is no scrutiny, that there are no criteria, and that it becomes a free-for-all, where a deal could be set aside simply because someone decides they don’t like Mr Murdoch. That’s not reason enough to turn down this transaction.”
Digiday 13 October 2017
Alice Pickthall was quoted in an article on Politico, which is using short-term email newsletters to test the ground for further expansion in Europe. The editorial package, called Global Policy Lab, runs in five-week bursts in Germany, France and the U.K. Alice said that the Global Policy Lab is “a great way to increase Politico Europe’s visibility and reputation at relatively low cost — helped by the GE title sponsorship — by getting access to big players in the business policy world. Ultimately, Politico will be seeking to grow its paid-for news services, Politico Pro, and the Global Policy Lab is another means to demonstrate high-quality and in-depth journalism”.
Bloomberg 12 October 2017
Caspar Stewart was quoted in an article on Sky viewing figures for the Premier League. Sky has drawn an average of 819,000 TV viewers per match since the season began in August, up 8 percent over a year earlier, according to data compiled by Enders Analysis. Changes in viewing behavior are causing broadcasters to focus more on social media and selling access to apps and single game passes to spur interest, rather than restricting content to monthly TV subscribers. On Thursday, Sky reported a 12 percent rise in pay-as-you-go sports and entertainment purchases in its fiscal first quarter. Caspar said that the Premier League’s encouraging early figures might indicate that recent attempts to crack down on piracy are having an impact. Adding that “they always tend to bring in the biggest audiences”.
Business of Fashion 12 October 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on print magazines, which are turning their front covers into ads, as advertisers are allocating more and more of their advertising budgets to digital. As far back as 2014 major publishing companies from Time Inc to Hearst Magazines have been experimenting with cover advertisements. Douglas said “this would’ve been unthinkable a number of years ago but it’s become such a lucrative option and clearly a very potent one from the perspective of the advertisers to be so visible and so memorable. He added that “there is a long-term risk to these things, the independence of the media brand is more likely to be tarnished even if subliminally consumers associate media brands with advertising”. He continues “in many ways the media brands in a position not to do that, and invest in their independence, will do better in the long term. It is innovative but what it tells you is, in order to sustain business to business advertising, they are having to make sacrifices and difficult decisions”.
Bloomberg 11 October 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on Sky, which is facing pressure from a prominent business lobby group to remove James Murdoch as chairman if a majority of independent shareholders oppose his leadership at the U.K. pay-TV provider’s annual meeting on Thursday. The Murdoch family, led by 86-year-old billionaire Rupert Murdoch, is already facing questions about its oversight of the Fox News network in the U.S. and its newspapers in the U.K. On Thursday, the focus will be on their handling of the bid itself, which came in December 2016, only months after James Murdoch resumed the role of Sky chairman. Alice said “this is a skirmish that crops up time and time again. I’m a little less convinced. This is a family that owns basically 40 percent of this company and it’s a little hard to insist that there not be a family member involved in the management.”
The Times 9 October 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Glamour magazine, which announced yesterday that it would relaunch as a “digital first” beauty brand, with its final monthly magazine coming out next month. Although the Condé Nast title will publish a “collectible” edition every six months, the new direction reflects alarm within the publishing industry about the long-term future of beauty and celebrity magazines. Douglas said “circulation has been declining very rapidly across magazines generally but the women’s sector in particular, really since the smartphone became mass market.”
Financial Times 9 October 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on the magazine world, where even the most prestigious titles have been challenged by the never-ending penetration of the internet and its abundance of free news and entertainment. With circulation and advertising revenues under pressure on both sides of the Atlantic magazines are facing an increasingly uncertain future. In fact, Magna Global, a media buying agency, expects magazines’ global advertising revenues to fall 13 per cent this year, while Enders Analysis, a media research group, has warned that the consumer magazine market was reaching “an existential threshold”. Douglas said “the industry is shrinking, and the decline seems to be accelerating both in circulation and in advertising — for print and online”. In the longer term, magazine publishers still have to work out what to do about the internet. He added “the way print advertising always worked was advertisers would pay for a magazine’s audience but also for the environment and the context”, but online magazines “have nothing like the same context and resonance” because a reader might stumble across an article on Facebook or Twitter and then immediately go somewhere else. Publishers, he says, have been “chasing a myth about digital advertising. In print they might have 100,000 readers while online they can get 10m. But that’s irrelevant because the 100,000 are the right 100,000 and more valuable”. Online advertising rates continue to lag print rates at their peak so in chasing large online readerships, magazines have “diluted the very essence of their brand . . . they have lost sight of what audience targeting really means”.
The Guardian 3 October 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on the new ITV current affairs programme set to rival BBC Newsnight. Tom said: “For some time, the 10pm to 11pm slot has been an unsettled and comparatively underperforming one for ITV. On weekdays from 9pm to 10pm, its main channel commands over 13% of all TV viewing but that drops to less than 8% between 10pm and 11pm. The very public failure of The Nightly Show, its attempt earlier this year at a US-style late-night talkshow was the latest piece of inconsistent scheduling.”
BBC 28 September 2017
Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on London's transport authority TfL decision not to renew Uber's licence to operate in the city of London. In the 48 hours following the decision, Addison Lee, Gett and MyTaxi all saw a spike in downloads. Some rival car-booking services had tried to capitalise on the news by offering steep discounts over the weekend, even though Uber's service will continue to operate as usual while it appeals against the TfL decision. Figures from app research company Priori Data also indicated a boost for Uber's rivals. Joseph said "the small-scale effect last weekend shows that TfL's decision is creating awareness of alternatives. Given Uber's position as the best-known ride-hailing brand, even this is something they would rather have avoided. But the point remains that from a taxi-app perspective, Uber is the 800lb gorilla in the UK".
BBC 27 September 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on Peppa Pig popularity in China. The cartoon pig's popularity in the country has been driven by nationwide showings of her TV programme and a big social media presence. Sales of her toys, clothes and home furnishings are on the up. Peppa has attracted 34 billion views on the different Chinese platforms since the brand launched in 2015. The toy is also bringing in increased revenue in the US for Entertainment One, which owns the brand. Tom said the character's success in China was "amazing", “China is a massive market but is very difficult for Western media companies to get into for two reasons. One is censorship and the other is that you can't operate there without an alliance with a Chinese business. He added that "however, children's content is very transferable between cultures, especially animation which is very easy to dub over to make it look local". He said that the top TV shows in any country are always local shows.
the Guardian 26 September 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on the contrasting performances of Strictly and the X Factor, which have raised questions about whether the ITV show has fallen into terminal decline despite creator Simon Cowell attempting to shake it up this year. Tom said singing contests had become “stale” and questioned whether ITV would continue to put the X Factor up against Strictly. He said “shows are often moved around, including by the BBC, which sits on top of the channel listing but doesn’t have everything its own way – it moved The Big Family Cooking Showdown, so as not to clash with Bake Off on Channel 4, and it brought forward Poldark so as not to share a Sunday night again with ITV’s Victoria. Strictly and X Factor have been going head to head in some capacity for years and, up to this time, that consistency indicates that for both the BBC and ITV that arrangement works. That may change, however, with X Factor’s decline”. Tom added that despite the X Factor’s falling audience it remained valuable to ITV. The programme reaches more 16- to 34-year-olds than Strictly – a valuable market for advertisers – and its viewing figures are expected to rise significantly when people watching the X Factor on catch-up services or recordings are taken into account. He said “X Factor has been slipping since the heights of the late 2000s when the discovery of acts like Matt Cardle and Little Mix resonated with viewers. Singing contests have inevitably grown somewhat stale, a trend hurried along by the sheer number of them – in the past year, BBC has announced that neither Pitch Battle nor Garry Barlow’s Let It Shine will return for a second season. That being said, even as it stands X Factor remains a guaranteed pull for a sizeable audience, and one that is relatively young. It is important to note that on Saturday, X Factor was markedly more popular amongst the 16 to 34s than Strictly”.
Financial Times 25 September 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Time Inc, who wants to sell its UK magazines division, including well-known titles such as Country Life, TV Times and the NME, as part of a wider shake-up of the struggling US publishing group. The move is part of what the company called a “strategic transformation programme” and comes after Time abandoned plans to sell itself in April, ending months of speculation over the future of the group which owns Time, People and Sports Illustrated. On Friday Time reported a 17 per cent fall in second quarter print and other advertising revenues, and confirmed a $400m cost-savings programme. Time, formerly known as IPC, is one of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers. According to data from Enders Analysis the company’s titles attracted the highest annual circulation in the UK in 2016 with 168.7m. Douglas said that while the move by Time was not a shock, it was still a “big decision” for the US group. Adding that “the UK is a very important territory, probably the biggest outside the US. But print ads are tough, digital advertising hasn’t taken off and its market share is being threatened by bloggers and other social media online”.
Variety 21 September 2017
François Godard was quoted in an article on HBO España, which has commissioned Alea Media to develop an original adaption of Fernando Aramburu’s bestselling novel “Patria”. Confirmation of the project comes after months of speculation over HBO’s Spanish production plans. Last November, HBO España launched a standalone streaming service in Spain and hired Miguel Salvat, a highly respected former director of content at Canal Plus and of premium channels at Movistar, as its commissioning editor of original programming. Francois said that HBO España’s production strategy is likely to be similar to that of HBO in the U.S. – namely, to “deliver limited, high-selective and unique content, the best of which may turn out to be iconic to its brand”.
BBC 20 September 2017
Joseph Evans was quoted in an article on YouTube announcement to end paid channels service. The facility let people pay a monthly fee to access individual YouTube channels from providers such as National Geographic and Sesame Street. However, the service was not popular with viewers and will end in December. Joseph said "they haven't seen the take-up they wanted, it's somewhat surprising when you look at what the other giants are doing. Amazon is pushing a modular 'subscribe to one channel at a time' service, having started with its all-you-can-eat package. With the sort of content people expect on YouTube, the sponsorship model does make more sense. Joseph added "but YouTubers may be wary of giving Google control of their video distribution and sponsorship money".
The Economist 15 September 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on Trinity Mirror, which owns the Daily and Sunday Mirror, announcement that it was in talks to buy the papers belonging to the Northern & Shell group, comprising the Daily Express, Daily Star and their Sunday sister titles. The two groups have been in on-off talks for two years. The sale would mark the biggest upheaval in the newspaper market for a decade, and the latest consolidation in a shrinking industry. Northern & Shell’s owner, Richard Desmond, a flamboyant former porn-baron who plays drums in a band with Roger Daltrey of The Who, bought the newspaper titles in 2000 (except the Daily Star Sunday, which he launched two years later). The Daily Express has lost about two-thirds of its readers since Mr Desmond bought it, as has the Sunday Express; the Daily Star has held up a bit better. Douglas believes that Mr Desmond has decided that in a declining market he has made as much money out of the papers as he can.
Financial Times 13 September 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the UK Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, concerns over corporate governance failures at Rupert Murdoch's Fox, and lack of procedures of broadcast compliance for Fox News in the UK. Recent scandals at Fox News are threatening to derail Rupert Murdoch’s proposed £11.7bn takeover of European pay-TV group Sky after the UK government signalled that it was likely to widen an investigation by regulators into the deal. In a significant shift, the culture secretary said she was now likely to refer the bid to the Competition and Markets Authority on whether 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of Sky shares it does not own would comply with UK broadcasting standards. Her shift in position, which followed intensive campaigning from anti-Murdoch groups and a cross-party group of MPs, also overruled a recommendation from the UK media regulator Ofcom, prompting some analysts to question whether the move was politically motivated. Claire said “this was a political decision. It’s very peculiar to override Ofcom despite no change to their advice”.
Financial Times 13 September 2017
Claire Enders was quoted in an article on the announcement by Karen Bradley, the UK culture secretary, on the Sky/Fox bid. Ms Bradley said that she was minded to widen a referral to regulators about the £11.7bn deal, to include scrutiny of corporate governance controls at Fox News. Ms Bradley raised new concerns about the transaction, overruling a recommendation from Ofcom, the media watchdog, that regulators consider only the deal’s impact on the UK media market. Claire said “Ofcom hasn’t changed its mind. “There is no new news, but the secretary of state has decided to go for the safest option to protect her from a judicial review. This shows the government just needs a quiet time”.
Bloomberg 12 September 2017
Alice Enders was quoted in an article on the Fox’s Sky bid. Today in parliament, the UK Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said she is minded to refer 21st Century Fox’s bid to seize full control of Sky to the Competition and Markets Authority to conduct a months-long investigation into Fox’s commitment to broadcasting standards, in addition to the widely expected review over whether the deal would give the Murdoch’s too much influence over U.K. media. The scope of the planned CMA referral surprised investors, given Bradley had initially said she was inclined to confine the review to questions of media-influence. Alice said “the direction of the political winds in the U.K. are less favourable every day with Labour rising. Who knows what the climate will be like by the time the CMA reports in April 2018 if not June 2018”.
Financial Times 12 September 2017
Douglas McCabe was quoted in an article on the Express, once the best-selling newspaper in the world, which could be heading for new ownership. On Friday, Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror, as well as 150 local UK titles, said it was in exclusive talks to acquire the Express and Star newspapers, along with the magazine assets owned by Mr Desmond’s parent company, Northern and Shell. Although both sides stressed that a deal is still some way off, Trinity’s renewed interest — the two sides tried but failed to clinch a deal back in 2015 — presents Mr Desmond, 65, with the opportunity to bail out of the rapidly shrinking newspaper business. Throughout Mr Desmond’s time in charge, the Express group has posted healthy profits. But during his ownership, the daily newspaper has been eclipsed by rival the Daily Mail, with circulation falling from more than 1m at the time of Mr Desmond’s takeover in 2000, to just below 400,000 today. Douglas said “every publisher has had to make cuts over the past few years. But the Express group has been more ruthless than most”.
the Guardian 11 September 2017
Tom Harrington was quoted in an article on last Saturday’s launch of the X Factor, which had the lowest ratings for a debut episode since it first aired in 2004. Tom said “contest formats have had remarkable longevity, and it’s natural that they’re going to tail off. I wouldn’t say it’s a tired format, but it is becoming less interesting. Audiences had become overexposed to such shows”. He added “there’s so many variations of the same theme, and there’s probably the feeling that a lot of the talent has already been mined. There’s only so many ‘we found a person who can sing who we didn’t think could sing’ stories you can have”. Tom said there had been some noticeable failures in the genre recently, for example, Gary Barlow’s Let it Shine, which the BBC canned after just one season. “It becomes saturated. There’s a hit and then everybody commissions stuff which is almost identical, and it reaches a tipping point. He continues “what we call appointment viewing – what people sit down to watch – has moved on to shows like Bake Off and others outside of the musical space”.