Archive for December, 2009

Download site posts new song, different dance

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

A new music download service will provide songs for free once the listener watches an advertisement, a New York Times report explains. is in testing stages, but has “two of the four major labels” and six advertisers on board.

“For each download users will select from about a dozen ads to view, and if, say, they choose Coca-Cola, then the company pays for that song in what the site calls a microsponsorship,” the article says.

The company also hopes users will post the fact that they’ve downloaded their latest favorite to their Facebook or Twitter pages, where if friends choose to download the same song they’ll have to watch the same commercial.

Free music surrounded by commercials. Hey, what if we add announcers who introduce the songs? Maybe they can throw in a little local news and weather …

Broadcast TV model outlives its prime time

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

The end of free TV as Americans have known it since the 1940s could be on its way, says Associated Press business writer Andrew Vanacore.

“The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks’ programming,” he writes. “Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming.”

While broadcast networks have relied on advertising for revenue, cable channels have charged fees to carriers — cable companies and the like — and sold advertising. Networks have begun charging carriers, too, and could make even more money without their affiliates.

“Pay-TV providers are paying the networks only for the stations the networks own. That amounts to a little less than a third of the TV audience, which means local affiliates recoup two-thirds of the fees. If a network operated purely as a cable channel and cut the affiliates out, the network could get the fees for the entire pay-TV audience.”

Affiliates that manage to stay in business would be independent stations, filling the broadcast day on their own with local news and programming, and syndicated material

Because of complicated affiliate contracts, any shift would take years, he says.

Cinema advertising does good box office in 2009

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Movie theater advertising pretty much broke even this year and is one of few media expected to return to long-term growth in 2010, says Media Daily News.

Revenues were up 2 percent to $262 million in the first three quarters of 2009, according to National CineMedia, one of the leaders in the field.

“[C]inema advertising was one of the few media ZenithOptimedia predicted to return to positive growth in 2010, along with TV, the Internet and outdoor,” the report says.

ZenithOptimedia forecasts further declines in newspapers, magazines and radio.

McClatchy nemesis no longer watching

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

McClatchy Watch, the popular, right-leaning, McClatchy-loathing blog, has come to an end, its author, Kevin Gregory, announced today.

He has run the site for 27 months and for the past several months averaged 2,000 hits on weekdays and about half that on weekends, he says. But he’s had enough and has “more responsibilities at work and … plans for more time with my family.”

We appreciate him for linking to posts at The Medium, The Message on occasion and for adding us to his site’s list of media links.

Today’s top news: $5 off at CVS

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

In what is surely a first, The News & Observer has run a front-page gatefold, an extension of a full-page advertisement on the back of a section that wraps around part of the front, this one obscuring 1A news and headlines.


Community newspaper publisher in bankruptcy

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Heartland Publications LLC, publisher of 50 community newspapers, has filed for bankruptcy with the expectation that it will complete  financial recapitalization by early spring, RTT News reports.

Among its 20 newspapers in North Carolina, the Connecticut-based company publishes the Apex Herald, Fuquay-Varina Independent, Holly Springs Sun,  Garner News and Cleveland Post in the Triangle.

The News & Observer established two newspapers in 2009 that compete with Heartland:  the Southwest Wake News, covering Apex, Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs, and the Garner-Clayton Record. They are among  nine free community newspapers published in the Triangle by the McClatchy Newspapers company.

Heartland, whose newspapers are all “paid publications,” according to its Web site,  has “reportedly … failed to make payment on its $161 million of first- and second-lien secured loans between December 2008 and February 2009,” RTT News says.

Heartland said “its publications will continue to operate without interruption, and all advertising and circulation agreements will continue as earlier. ‘Our readers, advertisers, and other business associates will see no change in our day-to-day operations,'” said Michael Bush, president and chief executive officer. The company says it has sufficient funds and positive cash flow to pay its ongoing expenses for the foreseeable future.

Note: The Associated Press report about Heartland posted by Editor & Publisher says the company “publishes 23 paid-circulation daily newspapers, along with several weekly and free publications.”

The AP also says, “the company’s top lender, GE Capital, has agreed to reduce what it is owed to $70 million from roughly $111 million. In exchange, the financial-services arm of the industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. would get a 90 percent stake in the company.”

Miami paper collecting readers’ donations

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The Miami Herald is deriving revenue by soliciting donations on its Web site, say Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal. Credit card forms linked at the bottom of articles on and since last week enable donations to the McClatchy Newspapers properties.

“The first few days of this experiment have elicited an encouraging steam of gifts, ranging from $2 to $55,” Gyllenhaal wrote in Sunday’s paper. “They’ve also provoked an array of reactions, here and across the country, since this has drawn attention as the first effort of its kind.”

He does not provide any further information about the amount raised.

“We think of this as a way to try something new at a time when The Herald has dozens of experiments under way,” he said. “We hope it helps us explore how readers view this whole equation. It also responds to the small but steady group of readers who, like the caller the other day, have asked how they can contribute.”

Radio posting ups and downs

Monday, December 21st, 2009

As the nation’s largest radio station owner, Clear Channel Radio, reported a substantial increase in ad sales in December and January on Friday, Citadel Broadcasting Corp., the No. 3 radio group, filed for  bankruptcy protection.

Together with some positive macroeconomic indicators and glimmers of a turnaround in magazine ad sales, the radio rebound holds out hope for a broader media recovery in the New Year,” Media Daily News said Friday in its Clear Channel report.

‘The ongoing weakness in the economy and advertising spending, compounded by rising debt and leverage’ have left Citadel with an ‘unsustainable capital structure,’ Neil Begley, an analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, said December 11 in a report,” according to Bloomberg.

“Sales ‘will continue to decline’ this quarter, Citadel said in a November 6 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission,” Bloomberg continues. “The company didn’t expect to meet January financial covenants, leading to a default and possibly forcing a bankruptcy filing, Citadel said at the time.”

At Clear Channel, “national spot ad sales increased 13.2 percent in December compared to last year; January 2010 is on track to deliver a 17.4 percent increase over January 2009’s dismal results.”

According to Bloomberg: “Citadel owns and operates 224 radio stations and produces programming for more than 4,000 affiliates. It is the third-largest U.S. radio company broadcasting from land-based antennas, behind Clear Channel and CBS Corp. Sirius XM Radio Inc., which charges subscribers for programming transmitted by satellites, is the second-largest radio broadcaster by revenue.”

Journalism seen winning out online

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The New York Times’ David Carr sees hope in the evolution of online news media.

“Blogs and new-media sites are cartoonishly written off as places where people write up the soup they just ate, but in the past year, many sites have added muscle and resources to the pursuit of news,” he wrote in Sunday’s paper. “Everyone knows about the reporting assets and influence of Politico, but you know things have changed when Gawker, the attitudinous Manhattan media blog, is hiring the kind of reporters who pick up the phone. …

“And just as new media have absorbed the enduring values of traditional media — developing sources, making phone calls [as noted earlier] — so more established players are adopting the tools of the insurgency. For instance, traditional media outlets are not waiting for the much-hyped Apple tablet to land next year before coming up with content that might soar on the device.”

“The long-in-the-tooth technologies still have plenty of life in them,” he says, citing successes in newspapers, TV and even among laid-off journalists.

Many newspapers not publicizing Twitter use

Friday, December 18th, 2009

More newspapers and their reporters are using Twitter to reach readers, as American Journalism Review notes, but they’re not necessarily doing it well, a study of 300 Twitter profiles at the top 100 newspapers in the country says.

“We were able to find multiple Twitter accounts for all of the top 100 newspapers using common sense searching techniques,” the Bivings Group says. “However, only 62 percent of the newspapers included links to at least one of their accounts from their Web site. In many cases these links were buried on the site and difficult to track down.”

Only 56 percent of newspapers maintained a directory of their Twitter accounts on their Web site.

(The Star News of Wilmington, which the AJR article spotlights, has a directory of its more than 40 Twitter accounts linked from the front page at “Follow us on Twitter.”)

Thirty-three percent of the accounts looked at replied to users in less than 1 percent of their tweets, Bivings says. Fifteen percent had never replied to another user’s tweets.