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10 media execs, under the cloak of anonymity, predict 2022's industry-shaking events – CNBC

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Chairman of Disney Michael Iger arrives for the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 06, 2021 in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

New year prediction pieces are a journalism standard. But instead of giving my own projections, I asked 10 media executives, with the promise of anonymity, to give me their best guesses on what’s going to happen in 2022.

The rules were simple: The prediction could be anything related to the media and entertainment business, but it had to be significant and couldn’t be obvious.

Here’s what they told me.

I’ll revisit the predictions at this time next year to see how they turned out, and then poll 10 new executives for their 2023 predictions.

Executive No.1: Roku buys Lionsgate’s studio

One executive said Roku will buy Lionsgate’s film and TV production studio.

Roku has been beefing up its original content in the Roku Channel, buying Quibi’s content library and “This Old House” in 2021. Founder and CEO Anthony Wood told CNBC in June he’s devoting most of his time charting out a content strategy for the company.

“This reminds me so much of Netflix in its early days,” media analyst Michael Nathanson told CNBC earlier this year. “I used to interview [Netflix Co-CEO] Ted Sarandos at conferences 10 years ago, and he’d say, ‘Oh, we’re happy with just one or two original shows.’ Meanwhile, they’d be laddering up into better content.”

Lionsgate has already signaled to the investment world it plans to either spin off or sell Starz, the premium streaming service and cable network it owns. That would leave the rest of the company — Lionsgate’s film and TV production studio — primed to find a buyer as well.

While traditional content companies such as Comcast‘s NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Netflix and Disney are all looking to add more content to their streaming services, Roku is a wild-card buyer that has the market valuation — nearly $30 billion — to make a move.

Still, Roku shares have fallen by more than 50% since reaching an all-time high in late July. Buying Lionsgate’s studio may get investors to take its content ambitions more seriously.

Executive No. 2: Bob Iger returns to Disney as CEO

It hasn’t even been two years since Bob Chapek took over as Disney’s CEO. But one executive told CNBC there are already internal wagers at Disney about Iger returning.

Iger, 70, repeatedly extended his contract after planning to retire in 2015, 2016 and 2018 before abruptly stepping down in 2020. He’s still Disney’s executive chairman until the end of the year.

It’s unclear if Iger wants to return. He’s already working on a second book, according to The Hollywood Reporter, after publishing one in 2019.

But Disney shares have stumbled this year, down nearly 20% year to date. Iger owns a lot of those shares. The board and Iger may get restless if Disney+ growth stagnates and the company continues to have turf tensions between executives.

Executives No. 3 and 4: ViacomCBS will merge or sell

Two votes for this one.

“I love Shari [Redstone], but ViacomCBS is not long for this world as it stands today,” said one of two media executives who predicted 2022 will be the year ViacomCBS ceases to exist as an independent company.

Comcast has already held preliminary talks with Redstone, the controlling shareholder and nonexecutive chair of the company, earlier this year to discuss a variety of ways to work together. A merger of NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS would be messy from a regulatory standpoint, likely requiring a divestiture of either NBC or CBS and their associated local affiliates.

Over the past two years, Redstone has internally contemplated other alternatives, such as buying Lionsgate’s Starz and merging with Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, if that merger closes, makes sense. But so far, ViacomCBS’s messaging to Wall Street has been that it’s content to move forward as is.

Shari Redstone, president of National Amusements and Vice Chairman, CBS and Viacom, speaks at the WSJTECH live conference in Laguna Beach, California, October 21, 2019.
Mike Blake | Reuters

Executive No. 5: The ‘free radicals’ will sell

It was back in 2015 when billionaire media mogul John Malone coined the term “free radicals” to define pure-play content companies that don’t have the scale to compete for top-notch movies and TV shows against media behemoths such as Netflix, Disney, Amazon and Apple.

Some of those free radicals have already consolidated. Viacom and CBS have merged. WarnerMedia and Discovery agreed to merge. Amazon is awaiting regulatory approval to buy MGM Studios.

But others, such as Lionsgate, AMC Networks and Fox, continue to exist. This executive predicts none will be solo after 2022, either selling to larger competitors or merging with each other.

Executive No. 6: Vice will sell itself in pieces

The digital media industry has taken steps to consolidate in recent months after years of talk. BuzzFeed merged with Complex Networks after acquiring HuffPost last year, and Group Nine and Vox Media announced their intent to merge.

Vice attempted to go public this year, but talks with special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) ultimately stalled due to limited investor interest.

Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice.
CNBC

Vice raised money at a $5.7 billion valuation in 2017. This executive said he believes Vice wouldn’t be able to get $1 billion in a full sale of the company given its debt obligations and unclear exit strategy for existing investors. That may lead the company to sell itself in pieces rather than search for a buyer of the entire company.

Executive No. 7: Vox Media will go public

Vox’s choice to merge with Group Nine sets itself as the next logical digital media candidate to go public after BuzzFeed. It just so happens that Group Nine has already established a SPAC that could be used by the company to go public, in conjunction with merging with another digital media player to gain more scale.

If SPACs remain tainted from an investment perspective, this executive said Vox could also pursue a standard IPO. The timing could be similar to BuzzFeed’s this year — an announcement of an IPO in late June and a public launch at the end of 2022, the executive said.

Executive No. 8: A major sports betting company will go bankrupt or sell for ‘peanuts’

The mobile sports-betting craze has swept across the United States. As more states legalize sports betting, the industry around it has boomed. In October 2021, people wagered $7 billion for the month — 20 times more than in June 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Gambling companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing as Americans flocked to sports betting. There’s a glut of them, said this executive, and at least one of the major sports betting apps — BetMGM, Penn National Gaming, PointsBet, Wynn, Caesars — will go bankrupt or sell “for peanuts” to one of its peers or market leaders FanDuel and DraftKings.

Executive No. 9: Apple will buy a movie/TV studio

Apple’s streaming video ambitions have been muted, given the company’s enormous size. “Ted Lasso” is a hit for Apple TV+, but the service has operated largely on the periphery of the streaming wars.

That’s likely to change, said this executive, in 2022, and it will be driven by the acquisition of a content studio. A fresh team of people who can create hit shows won’t just make Apple a more serious player churning out original content. It will also give Apple a library of TV shows and movies it can offer to customers. That’s something Apple doesn’t own yet, but it’s probably essential to serious long-term streaming ambitions.

Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
Source: Apple Inc.

Still, Apple has a very limited track record with mergers and acquisitions, so any prediction of an Apple acquisition of significance is more often wrong than right.

Executive No. 10: Free advertising-supported streaming services will consolidate

Another pillar of the streaming wars that tends to get ignored is the world of free advertising-supported services, highlighted by Fox’s Tubi, ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb TV, and Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s STIRR. Smart TV operating systems also offer free streaming networks, such as Samsung TV Plus and the Roku Channel.

This executive predicted free-streaming TV will have surging growth in 2022 but will also consolidate. Too many of these services are offering essentially the same thing — a bundled offering of free networks with a lot of old movies and TV shows and syndicated programming.

A rollup of several of these services is likely in 2022, according to Executive No. 10.

(Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC. Comcast and NBC Sports are investors in FanDuel)

WATCH: Streaming wars winner will be one with the most mass hits, says ViacomCBS executive

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Tics and TikTok: Can social media trigger illness? – Harvard Health

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A red paper plane leading and white paper planes veering to follow it

A student suddenly develops leg pain and paralysis; soon hundreds of schoolmates have similar symptoms. Nuns begin biting each other, and soon the same thing is happening at other nearby convents. Three schoolgirls begin laughing uncontrollably, sometimes going on for days. When nearly 100 classmates develop the same problem, the school is forced to close down.

Yet in each case, no medical explanation was ever found. Eventually, these came to be considered examples of mass sociogenic illness, which many of us know by different names: mass hysteria, epidemic hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness. Over the years, many possible sources for these illnesses have emerged — and today TikTok and other social media sites may be providing fertile ground.

What is sociogenic illness?

The hallmark of these conditions is that multiple people within a social group develop similar, medically inexplicable, and often bizarre symptoms. In some cases, those affected believe they have been exposed to something dangerous, such as a toxin or contagion, although thorough investigation finds none.

The suffering caused by these illnesses is quite real and profound —even in the absence of a clear cause and presence of normal test results. And no, a person with sociogenic illness is not “just looking for attention” or “doing it on purpose.”

Labeling people as hypochondriacs or “crazy,” or illness as “hysteria,” isn’t helpful. Hysteria and hysterical — drawn from hystera, the Greek word for womb — are loaded terms, often used to diminish women as psychologically unstable or prone through biology to uncontrollable outbursts of emotion or fear. And while some researchers suggest these illnesses more commonly affect women, most of the published literature on this condition is decades old and based on a limited number of cases.

Common features of mass sociogenic illness

Past outbreaks include illnesses in which people suddenly fainted; developed nausea, headaches, or shortness of breath; or had convulsive movements, involuntary vocalizations, or paralysis. Usually, these outbreaks occurred among people in close proximity, such as at a school or workplace. Rarely, cases appear to have been spread by shows on television. Now, social media is a possible new source.

Certain features are typical:

  • experiencing symptoms that have no clear medical explanation despite extensive investigation
  • symptoms that are temporary, benign, and unusual for those affected
  • rapid onset of symptoms and rapid recovery
  • those affected are connected by membership and interaction within a social group or by physical proximity.

Generally, treatment includes:

  • ruling out medical explanations for symptoms
  • shutting down a facility where it occurred
  • removing people from the site of supposed exposure (online or not)
  • separating affected individuals from one another.

Reassurance regarding the lack of danger, and demonstrating that the outbreak stops once individuals are no longer in close contact with each other, generally reduces anxiety and fosters recovery.

Tics and TikTok: a new driver of sociogenic illness?

The first known examples of social media-induced sociogenic illness were recognized in the last year or two, a time coinciding with the pandemic. Neurologists began seeing increasing numbers of patients, especially teenage girls, with unusual, involuntary movements and vocalizations reminiscent of Tourette syndrome. After ruling out other explanations, the tics in these teenagers seemed related to many hours spent watching TikTok videos of people who report having Tourette syndrome and other movement disorders. Posted by social media influencers, these videos have billions of page views on TikTok; similar videos are available on YouTube and other sites.

What helped? Medications, counselling, and stress management, according to some reports. Avoiding social media posts about movement disorders and reassurance regarding the nature of the illness also are key.

Geographic boundaries may have become less relevant; now, the influences driving these illnesses may include social media, not just physical proximity.

Dancing plagues, mad gassers, and June bugs

Sociogenic illnesses are nothing new. If you had lived in the Middle Ages, you might recall the “dancing plague.” Across Europe, scores of afflicted individuals reportedly began to involuntarily and deliriously dance until exhaustion. And let’s not forget the writing tremor epidemic of 1892, the Mad Gasser of Mattoon during the mid-1940s, and the June bug epidemic of 1962.

The anxieties and concerns of the times play a role. Before the 1900s, spiritual or religious overtones were common. When concerns were raised about tainted foods and environmental toxins in the early 1900s, unusual odors or foods sparked a rash of palpitations, hyperventilation, dizziness, or other anxiety symptoms. More recently, some residents of the West Bank who thought nearby bombings released chemical weapons reported dizziness and fainting, although no evidence of chemical weapons was found.

Closer to home, reports are swirling that Havana syndrome may represent another example of mass sociogenic illness, although no firm conclusions can yet be made. Initially described among members of the US State Department in 2016 in Havana, Cuba, individuals who experienced this suddenly developed headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and memory loss.

These symptoms have been reported by hundreds of people in different parts of the world. Many are foreign service workers attached to US diplomatic missions. Soon after the first case reports, suspicion arose that a new weaponized energy source was causing the illness, such as microwaves fired from some distance. Cuba, Russia, or other adversaries have been blamed for this. Thus far, the true nature and cause of this condition is uncertain.

Nocebo, not placebo

One theory suggests that sociogenic illness is a form of the nocebo effect. A placebo — like a sugar pill or another inactive treatment — may help people feel better due to expectation of benefit. The nocebo effect describes the potential that people could have a negative experience based purely on the expectation that it would occur.

Think of it this way: you may be more likely to experience a headache from a medication if you’ve been warned of this possible side effect, compared with another person warned about a different side effect. Similarly, let’s say you see people fainting. If you believe this is caused by a substance they — and you! — were exposed to, you may faint, too, even if there’s no actual exposure to a substance that could cause fainting.

The bottom line

We don’t know why some develop sociogenic illness while others don’t. Plenty of people have lots of stress. Millions of people were stuck inside during the pandemic and turned to social media for more hours each day than they’d like to admit. Many people are prone to the power of suggestion. Yet, sociogenic illness remains relatively rare. Despite existing for hundreds of years, much about this condition remains mysterious. An open mind is important. Some cases of sociogenic illness may be due to an environmental toxin or contagion that wasn’t detected at the time.

If you or a loved one spends a lot of time on social media and has developed an illness that defies explanation, talk to your healthcare providers about the possibility of social media-induced sociogenic illness. We may soon learn that it’s not so rare after all.

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content.
Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date,
should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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Federal Electoral Boundaries Commissions Launch Redistribution Website and Social Media Accounts – Canada NewsWire

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GATINEAU, QC, Jan. 20, 2022 /CNW/ – The federal electoral boundaries commissions are pleased to announce the launch of their official website and social media accounts for the 2022 redistribution process. This is the first time that the commissions will have a presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The role of the commissions is to propose new boundaries for federal electoral districts, consult with Canadians and create the new electoral map for their province. While each provincial commission works independently, the website and social media accounts will publish information for all 10 commissions.

The ten electoral commissions will begin their work in February 2022 with the release of the 2021 census population counts by Statistics Canada. Also in 2022, each commission will hold public hearings, following the publication of their proposal. The website and social media accounts will provide more information in the coming weeks to help Canadians understand the redistribution process, and participate in the consultations of this important democratic exercise.

Quick Facts:

  • The commissions were established by a proclamation issued on November 1, 2021.
  • The commission chairs are named by the chief justice of each province, and the other members by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
  • The redistribution of federal electoral districts is based on the new allocation of seats in the House Commons, as calculated by the Chief Electoral Officer using the representation formula found in the Constitution.
  • The redistribution will start in early February 2022, once the population counts from the 2021 Census are available.
  • The commissions have 10 months after receiving the Census data to submit their initial boundary proposals, hold public hearings, and present their reports.
  • The new federal electoral map will be ready in spring 2024 at the earliest.

Elections Canada will support the commissions by providing them with various professional, financial, technical and administrative services. These include liaising with Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Speaker of the House of Commons on behalf of the commissions, and preparing the maps showing the boundaries proposed by the commissions and assisting them with data collection and management.

SOURCE Elections Canada

For further information: [email protected]

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Nature School returns this winter at Fanshawe Conservation Area (media release, January 18, 2022) – thamesriver.on.ca

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Nature School returns this winter at Fanshawe Conservation Area (media release, January 18, 2022)

Community Education staff are excited to once again offer their outdoor Nature School program at Fanshawe Conservation Area. This nature-based, outdoor education program was first offered in the fall of 2021 in response to the pandemic and it has returned thanks to its popularity.

Nature School is land-based education that is centred on giving children access to the same outdoor space over an extended period of time so that they can build a relationship with the land. Children have the opportunity to learn and grow through play and exploration outdoors with educators who support inquiry-based learning led and inspired by the children.

Julie Read, Community Education Supervisor, shared that, “Our first session of Fanshawe Nature School was fantastic!  Caregivers expressed how happy they were to be involved in a program where their children could be outside in nature and have so many opportunities to express their natural curiosity and engage in free play.  While staff offered invitations for the children each week, like songs, stories and different materials, it was wonderful to see the participants develop their own ideas about what was possible during Nature School and deepen their imaginative play and nature observation skills as the weeks progressed.  One child said ‘I wish Nature School was every day!’ To us, this is the most positive feedback of all!”

Children aged two to five years, along with an accompanying adult, can participate in the Owls and Owlets program on Tuesdays from 10:00 to 11:30 am.

Children aged 5 to 8 years can participate in the Sparrows program on Tuesdays from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.

Photos of Nature School at Fanshawe Conservation Area

Contact: Julie Read, Community Education Supervisor

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