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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres

















"For some buyers, shedding a brand like CNN to persuade regulators you can have its parent company would feel like a painful sacrifice. Rupert Murdoch probably had a good laugh at the idea that this might be all he would have to do to get his hands on Time Warner. Few things better illustrate the way the 83-year-old has transformed the global media landscape than the manner in which his liberal-baiting Fox News has outplayed (outfoxed, you might say) the channel that invented cable news but has since lost its way.  When he and Roger Ailes were building Fox, CNN founder Ted Turner was seen as an equal, another in the large cast of moguls that directed our news and entertainment and shaped how we consumed it. Now, with Mr Turner retired, Sumner Redstone ageing and companies like Comcast, Walt Disney and even Time Warner run by more sober characters, Mr Murdoch and John Malone look like the last moguls standing. Fashions have changed, and Time Warner’s disastrous sale to AOL just as the dotcom bubble was ready to pop left investors disenchanted with the megadeals that were once the mark of such moguls. Jeff Bewkes, a veteran of HBO’s Sopranos-era early days, made his name by being among the first Time Warner executives to warn that the AOL deal would end in tears. He was right, and the experience left him acutely aware of the value most media mergers have destroyed. Having instead trimmed down his portfolio by shedding AOL, Time Warner Cable and – just this summer – Time Inc’s magazines, he has made Time Warner a digestible target for someone with Mr Murdoch’s appetite. Mr Bewkes has been an outspoken critic of big media mergers, but Mr Murdoch must have calculated that Time Warner’s chairman and chief executive will ultimately take an unemotional view of whatever proposal is put in front of him and, if he cannot find a better deal of his own, sell if the terms are right." (FT)





"Hamas and affiliate militant factions out of the Gaza Strip are so far rejecting an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire, having launched far more than 100 rockets since the cease-fire proposal. In exposing Israel's inability to stem the rocket flow, Hamas is trying to claim a symbolic victory over Israel. Hamas' spin aside, the military reality paints a very different picture. Palestinian militants have launched more than 1,200 rockets, but their limited range and accuracy combined with Israeli defensive capabilities have led to only one civilian death, less than 100 further casualties and disruptions to daily life over the past week. Conversely, Israel Defense Forces have struck more than 1,500 targets in Gaza, inflicting much heavier destruction on the militants. On the surface, the exchange of fire might seem balanced, but conflicts are measured by more than aggregate numbers of casualties and explosions.Nonstate actors such as Hamas and many of its peer organizations, of course, need some ability to exert force if they are to influence the actions of a state whose imperatives run counter to their own. The Gaza Strip is small and its resource base is limited, reducing the options for force. This makes cheap asymmetric tactics and strategies ideal.
For Gaza and its militants, terrorizing the Israeli population through limited force often has previously influenced, constrained or forced the hand of the Israeli government and its subsequent policies. It accomplished this with assassinations, ambushes or suicide bombings targeting security forces or Israeli citizens. A confluence of events later led to a gradual evolution in the conflict. By 2006, the security wall that surrounds and contains the Gaza Strip had eliminated militants' ability to directly engage the Israeli populace and security personnel, and Israel Defense Forces had completely withdrawn from the territory. Meanwhile, Hezbollah had demonstrated the effectiveness of relatively cheap artillery rockets volleyed into Israel in a high enough volume to seriously disrupt the daily life of Israeli life. While artillery rockets were not new to Gaza, the conditions were ripe for this tactic's adoption. The intent was to build up a substantial arsenal of the weapons and increase their range to threaten Israel's entire population as much as possible. (Increased range was also needed to overcome Israel's growing defensive capabilities.) This would be the asymmetric threat that could be used to project force, albeit limited force, from Gaza. This threat has framed the Israel-Gaza conflict ever since." (STRATFOR)























"Michael’s was very busy Wednesday, with the decibel levels moving up noticeably (I couldn’t hear my lunch partners without practically shoving my ear in their faces.) Normally my hearing is far from perfect. Others would attest to its obvious deafness. However, on this kind of Wednesday at Michael’s the majority of  lunchers (diners?) were filling the air with that New York clatter chatter. The amazing thing about that is, in a place where all kinds of deals and dramas are being hatched by one and all (media/TV/film/publishing/bankers/Wall St), you can’t hear a word anyone is saying even if they’re yelling because so is everybody else. Yelling. Probably a good place to share a deep secret with someone you trust; the noise is so much that people try to tune out the voices nearby. What’d you say?? The rundown. At the table next to us, the gregarious, garrulous and ubiquitous financial advisor Euan Rellie, a Scot, married to one of the famous Sykes sisters. Euan was with Justine Mannerling and Kevin Martel, the creative director of Harry’s of London.  Harry’s of London was started I was told, by Matthew Mellon, the former husband of Tamara Mellon, the tycooness of Jimmy Choo fame and fortune.Men’s shoes, Harry’s. Now all the rage. Euan would love it if I’d show you a picture of Harry’s current, line but I’m not going to. You know where to look if you really want to know. Go ahead, you might like. That was next door to us. In the bay at Table One, Steven Rubenstein, the PR guru (along with his father and brother). On the other side of us Fern Mallis was lunching with architect Steven Learner and Sarah Medford. Beyond them, marketing and advertising executive Cindy Lewis. In the corner (Barry Diller’s table when he’s in town), Dana Miller and Mitch Kanner. You don’t know who they are? Neither do I. Michael’s knows, however, and maybe you might want to also. Next to them, Alice Mayhew, the Simon & Schuster editor with literary agent Ed Victor. Were they discussing the rumored to be imminent acquisition of S&S by Amazon.com? I have no idea, but others were definite airing opinions about the rumor and Jeff Bezos taking over the whole publishing/media world.  And then the moon, of course. Moving along, at the table next to Alice Mayhew, Bob Barnett, the Washington attorney, husband of newcaster, the great (the voice) Rita Braver." (NYSD)

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