Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony Pulls The Interview | 21st Century Fox Acquires TrueX

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9/11 Threats From Sony Hackers Cause Company to Drop The Interview (FishbowlNY)
In light of the recent threats of violence from those responsible for the ongoing cyber attacks against Sony Pictures (aka the “Guardians of Peace”), the company has decided to pull the plug on Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s latest movie, The Interview. The film was scheduled to premiere nationwide on Christmas day. PRNewser Tuesday, the hackers’ threats turned to violence, invoking 9/11 and implying that someone would attack theaters screening The Interview. The movie’s planned New York premiere was subsequently cancelled. Rogen and Franco also cancelled all further press dates. Time American officials have determined the government of North Korea is connected to the hack, a U.S. official confirmed Wednesday. Much remains unclear about the nature of North Korea’s involvement. The country, while lauding the hack against Sony, has denied being behind it. There were conflicting reports Wednesday evening, and officials are expected to unveil their findings Thursday. THR Sony decided to pull The Interview from all theaters Wednesday in response to the decision by the country’s major chains not to show the film. The country’s top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — chose to pull The Interview from their theaters Wednesday. Variety Sony is weighing releasing the film on premium video-on-demand, according to an insider. That would allow the studio to recoup some of the film’s $42 million budget and tens of millions in promotion and advertising expenditures. It would also enable the studio to experiment with the potential of VOD, something it has been hesitant to do at the risk of angering major exhibitors. TheWrap Wednesday, New Regency pulled the plug on its Steve Carell movie Pyongyang, which Gore Verbinski had been prepping for a March start date. Based on the graphic novel by Guy Delisle, Pyongyang is a paranoid thriller about a Westerner’s experiences working in North Korea for a year.

21st Century Fox Buys TrueX Media (FishbowlNY)
21st Century Fox has purchased TrueX Media for $200 million. TrueX — founded in 2007 as SocialVibe — is a digital advertising company which licenses its products to advertisers and media companies. THR Fox co-COO James Murdoch, the son of chairman Rupert Murdoch, joined the board of TrueX earlier in the year. Variety Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Following the acquisition, TrueX will remain a stand-alone business — retaining TV, music and video clients such as Pandora and DramaFever — and also will work with Fox Networks Group to develop marketing capabilities on Fox’s proprietary digital platforms. WSJ / CMO Today TrueX Media licenses a digital ad product to media companies, ranging from Pandora to Fox Broadcasting to DramaFever. This product allows Web consumers to opt to briefly interact with a full-screen, multifaceted ad rather than seeing a series of standard ads while streaming video content.

Ex-Hulu Boss Jason Kilar Lifts The Veil on Vessel (THR)
After remaining tightlipped for months about his highly anticipated new venture, former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is revealing new details about streaming video service Vessel and opening its doors to content creators ahead of an early 2015 launch. GigaOM Vessel wants to give consumers early access to videos that they’d otherwise watch on YouTube. Vessel will offer paying subscribers a three-day early access window, but is also promising video creators that they will be able to publish their clips elsewhere (read: on YouTube) after those three days are over. Variety Its proposition: For $2.99 per month, users will get early access to top short-form digital content, while content partners will reap 60 percent of subscription revenue and 70 percent of ad revenue. Deadline The company also has started a bidding war for top talent on YouTube, where hundreds of young creators have built audiences in the millions and are now branching out into new areas, helped by a growing ecology of multi-channel networks, managers, agents, live tours and licensing companies. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ involvement has also stirred interest, particularly when his company bought gamer-oriented live-video site Twitch this fall for $970 million, after Twitch had negotiated for months with Google.

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Last of ‘Murrow’s Boys,’ Richard Hottelet, Dies (TVNewser)
Richard C. Hottelet, the last living member of Edward R. Murrow‘s team known as “Murrow’s Boys,” has died. Hottelet, who spent 40 years at CBS News radio and TV, died Wednesday morning at home in Wilton, Conn. He was 97. NYT Hottelet, the youngest member of the Murrow Boys when he was hired and the last of them still with CBS when he retired in 1985, was a dogged reporter who so angered Nazi leaders while working for United Press in the war’s early stages that he was imprisoned by the Gestapo for four months. Variety Hottelet retired from CBS News in 1985 and became the public affairs counselor for the U.S. Mission to the U.N. for a short time. He then began a new career as a commentator on America’s foreign affairs, moderating America And The World for National Public Radio, appearing on panel discussions, lecturing and writing articles.

Netflix Now on Dish’s Hopper in First Big Pay-TV Partnership (GigaOM)
Subscribers to Dish’s satellite TV service can now access Netflix right from their set-top box, the companies announced on Wednesday. The partnership is a major strategic coup for the online video service, and reflects a new level of integration between online and traditional TV. Mashable The arrangement is the first of its kind for Netflix, which has never before been available through a major cable or satellite system. Dish Network has a little more than 14 million subscribers. Variety Previously, Netflix has landed pacts to be added to set-top boxes with small and midsize cable operators, including Suddenlink Communications; in the U.K., Netflix has an agreement with the country’s top cable operator, Virgin Media.

CNN, Frontline Among 2015 duPont Winners (TVNewser)
CNN and PBS’ Frontline were among the winners of 2015 duPont-Columbia awards, announced Wednesday morning by the Columbia University School of Journalism. TVSpy Fourteen winners were announced in total, including four for investigative reporting by local stations — and two were in the same market, Tampa-St. Petersburg. ABC affiliate WFTS was honored for “Incapacitated: Florida’s Guardianship Program,” an investigation that exposed “rampant abuse and fraud” by court appointed guardians. Tampa CBS affiliate WTSP received a duPont for “Short Yellows and the Red Light Fight,” an investigation that exposed how local governments “abused technology to cheat drivers.” HuffPost CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta will receive an award for his work on WEED, which took a deeper look at the use and effectiveness of medical marijuana. Netflix will also take home an award for the feature-length documentary Virunga, the first-ever duPont award for the online streaming service. NPR is being honored with two awards, one for its public radio report Guilty And Charged and another in the interactive digital category for Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt.

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China Is World’s Worst Jailer of Press, Global Tally Second Worst on Record (CPJ)
More than 200 journalists are imprisoned for their work for the third consecutive year, reflecting a global surge in authoritarianism. China is the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2014. FishbowlNY China imprisoned 44 journalists this year. Overall, there were 220 reporters in jail during 2014, up from 211 last year. China led the way, but Iran wasn’t far behind, with 30 journalists imprisoned.

Time, People Magazines Trim Print Circulation Guarantees (AdAge)
Time and People, two of the nation’s largest magazines, are reducing their print circulation guarantees to advertisers. Time is cutting its circulation guarantee by 250,000 copies per issue, according to a spokesman for the magazine, from 3.25 million per issue now. FishbowlNY People will reduce its circulation guarantee by 50,000 copies per issue, with a new rate base of 3.4 million. The change is odd, as typically, the higher a magazine’s rate base the more it can charge advertisers for ads. It might have something to do with MediaVest — a huge media buying agency — who announced it will no longer count tablet subscriptions when considering magazines’ rate bases.

How ABC’s Jim Avila Broke The News of Alan Gross’ Release (TVNewser)
More than 20 trips in nearly 20 years of covering Cuba paid off for ABC’s Jim Avila Wednesday morning when he broke the news that American contractor Alan Gross would be released from a Cuban prison. But it didn’t stop there. Gross’ freedom, in exchange for the release of the remaining so-called “Cuban Five,” was the key to re-starting diplomatic relations with the island nation just 90 miles from Key West. TVNewser Bob Schieffer said he’s not only “stunned” by the news that the U.S. is normalizing relations with Cuba, but by the fact that no news organization saw it coming.

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Add MJ Lee to List of Politico Departures, Joins CNN Digital Politics (FishbowlDC)
You can add MJ Lee to the growing wave of Politico reporters and editors who’ve been poached by CNN Digital Politics. For those of you counting, Lee makes five: Rachel Smolkin, Steven Sloan, Jedd Rosche and Eric Bradner all switched teams this fall.

BuzzFeed Hires Executive to Oversee M&A Strategy (Capital New York)
BuzzFeed has hired Sam Figler as its first-ever head of global business development, overseeing the company’s strategic partnerships and mergers & acquisitions strategy, a BuzzFeed spokeswoman said. Figler is the first big business-side hire that Greg Coleman has made since being named president of BuzzFeed in August.

HBO Becomes Latest Network to Turn Its Back on Same-Day Ratings (THR / The Live Feed)
Pay cable network HBO has no advertisers and has seen its slate of original Sunday night series draw more and more of their audiences from time-shifting. So it should come as little surprise that the network won’t be distributing or confirming its own live-plus-same day ratings any longer.

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Jennifer Aniston Serves ‘Cake’ to Gayle King, Arianna Huffington, Marlo Thomas (FishbowlNY / Lunch)
It was one for the books Wednesday at Michael’s. While the SRO crowd of mavens, moguls and machers was celebrating at full tilt, the joint got an extra jolt of adrenaline when word spread that Jennifer Aniston would be hosting an intimate lunch for two as she continues her unofficial Oscar campaign for her role in her latest film, Cake.

Lionsgate Tried to Discuss Merger With Sony, Leaked Emails Show (Reuters)
Lionsgate executives last summer tried to meet with Sony Corp CEO Kazuo Hirai to discuss a possible merger or acquisition, according to emails found in documents stolen by hackers.

Broadcasters Try to Block Aereo Asset Sale, $90 Million Tax Transfer (GigaOM)
The TV industry has already shut down Aereo at the Supreme Court and driven it into bankruptcy, but that’s apparently not enough: now CBS, Fox, NBC and other big broadcasters are asking a judge to block any asset sale that would allow the defunct streaming TV company to reinvent itself as a cloud-DVR service.

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