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Disney faces an unknown future as coronavirus hobbles its media empire – CNN

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Over the last century, Disney (DIS) has built a sprawling empire centered around entertaining large crowds in dense spaces. But following one of its best years ever in 2019 — including the record-breaking release of “Avengers: Endgame” and the launch of new Star Wars lands at its theme parks — the pandemic brought Disney to a halt in a matter of days.
Executives like executive chairman Bob Iger and new CEO Bob Chapek are in the midst of dealing with the health and economic crisis. Yet as they deal with the immediate blow to earnings, the longer-term question lingers as to whether Disney’s assets — which have become sudden liabilities because of the virus — could offer a light at the end of the tunnel.

‘It has gone from great to good to bad to worse’

“What everyone’s worrying about is that we don’t know when things are going to get back to normal. We also don’t know whether behaviors change in the future,” Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, told CNN Business. “Will people be reluctant to go to parks? Will people want to sit in the theater next to strangers for fear of catching the virus? That’s what the market is wrestling with when it comes to Disney.”
Disney furloughs employees 'whose jobs aren't necessary at this time'
The pandemic has hit Disney particularly hard. Its parks and resorts have closed around the world, major films like “Mulan” and “Black Widow” are delayed, and one of its biggest media networks, ESPN, is scrambling to fill its airtime due to a lack of sports.
This has led Disney to furlough thousands of employees, led Standard & Poors to downgrade the company’s credit rating, and led its stock to drop 27% year to date. Disney did not have a comment on this story.
The company will report its earnings after the bell Tuesday, and investors are eager to learn just how deeply the pandemic has hurt Disney’s business.
“With the businesses unable to operate, Disney is just going to get decimated in 2020 on free cash flow and profitability,” Nathanson added. “It has gone from great to good to bad to worse.”
However, Disney is still Disney — a company with a beloved brand and an array of franchises that remain the envy of the industry. As consumers grapple with the psychological effects of being locked up for so long, will there be pent-up demand in the long-term for Disney’s crowd-based entertainment experiences?
Or will consumer habits shift for good?

‘No one is suddenly bored of Disney’

“The ability for Disney to thrive in so many applications — TV, comics, film, parks, books, on-ice shows, video games — is encouraging,” Matthew Ball, a former Amazon (AMZN) Studios executive, told CNN Business. “Most companies don’t have the intellectual property, let alone the culture or skill set, that Disney does when it comes to finding out how to delight customers in new ways and through new products in a post-COVID world.”
Ball added that “no one is suddenly bored of Disney” and that before coronavirus, “no media company was more beloved.”
Suzanne Scott, an assistant professor at the University of Texas’ Moody College of Communication, echoed this point, telling CNN Business that Disney fans are “incredibly loyal to the brand.” She doesn’t believe that this crisis will change that.
“We associate Disney with family, which is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now,” she said. Scott emphasized that people will be craving events and communal experiences once it is safe to collectively gather again.”
Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com, believes that Disney’s parks and resorts will face the greatest challenges in terms of reopening, and that those challenges probably won’t be resolved any time soon. However, he added that Disney has spent years and billions to position itself as “a lifestyle brand — not just an entertainment company or a vacation destination.”
That bond with consumers gives Disney “an enormous head start relative to its competition when stay-at-home orders lift,” he said.
“Millions of Disney fans are sitting at home right now, watching Disney+, wearing Disney-branded clothes, reading Disney books and listening to Disney music,” Niles told CNN Business. “Even though people have had to stay away from theaters and theme parks, they’ve never had to stay away from Disney.”
While 2020 looks destined to be a disaster for Disney, there is one bright spot for the company: Disney+.
Disney+ is almost near its subscribers goal four years ahead of scheduleDisney+ is almost near its subscribers goal four years ahead of schedule
In just five months, the company’s nascent streaming service racked up 50 million paid subscribers globally, a number it originally projected would take nearly four years to hit. Even Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, praised the launch of Disney+ during his own company’s recent earnings call, saying “I’ve never seen such a good execution of the incumbent learning the new way and mastering it.”
Trip Miller, a Disney investor and managing partner at hedge fund Gullane Capital partners, believes Disney+ is vital to the company right now. And that’s not just because it’s Disney’s future. He believes the streaming platform keeps the company in the hearts, minds and living rooms of consumers.
“If there’s one silver lining for Disney from this terrible crisis, it’s that it has pushed more people to consume the company’s content even faster than anyone expected,” he said. “Can you imagine if this was two years ago and they didn’t have Disney+?”

Into the unknown

While Disney+ appears to be well ahead of schedule, with so many parts of the company idled or hobbled, it’s not enough to compensate for the setbacks.
Ball noted that Disney is an “incredibly diversified media company” and that’s usually “an advantage in times of crisis, as it affords stability and limits overall exposure.”
“But COVID-19 is hitting nearly every element of Disney,” he added. “The only exception is really its streaming services, Hulu and Disney+, but neither is profitable yet.”
Given its strong stable of pop-culture properties, Disney has the branding, assets and consumer loyalty to rebound from the coronavirus. But no one knows how long recovery will take, and what permanent financial damage is being done to Disney in the process.
So for the first time in decades, the company is heading into an unknown future — one that no amount of Disney magic can fix right now.
“If things came back to normal, Disney’s rise would likely be equal to its fall,” Nathanson said. “But people just don’t know when that’s coming.”

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Saskatoon police officer put on paid leave over 'harmful and offensive' social media posts – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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Article content continued

“I want to assure the public that we take these complaints seriously. We have acted swiftly to address the issue and a thorough investigation will occur.”

The Saskatoon Police Association, the union that represents police officers in the city, said it will not be commenting at this time since the investigation is active.

The board of directors of Saskatoon Pride, in a Facebook post, said Cooper personally contacted the organization to inform it about the posts.

The organization said the posts are not just hurtful to the city’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, but to the entire community, and “are not worthy of someone charged with upholding the law and protecting the community.”

“It is a sad day for Saskatoon that, in the midst of outrage over the racist and criminal acts committed by police against the BIPOC community across the continent and during a month meant to celebrate diversity, inclusion and Pride, there is a member of the Saskatoon police force who would feel that they were entitled to express such bigoted views, while claiming to uphold the law and serve the public,” Saskatoon Pride’s board wrote.

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Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek – Globalnews.ca

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Brianna Irawan, 13, was extremely happy after finding out on Thursday that her prized underwater camera that had been lost for almost a year had been found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek.

The Williams Lake teen was visiting relatives in Kelowna last year when she lost the camera while jumping into the waterfalls at Mill Creek Regional Park.

“We were on Mill Creek, jumping into the water and I put my camera underneath my clothes,” Irawan told Global News on Friday.

“When I jumped, I forgot about my camera, so I walked back up and then I picked up my clothes and I forgot my camera was underneath and it fell into the water.”






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Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek


Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek

READ MORE: Kelowna man finds digital camera in Mill Creek for second time

She went back the creek several times over the next few days, but eventually had to write her camera off to the river gods.

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The Fujifilm XP model wasn’t seen again until almost a year later when Calvin Van Buskirk found it caught up in some debris downstream.

“What makes it even more interesting is we found a GoPro there last year. You guys [Global News] were able to get the images and the videos off it within hours it found its way back to its rightful owner,” Van Buskirk said.






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Construction crew makes unusual find near Kelowna


Construction crew makes unusual find near Kelowna

It took less than 24 hours for images retrieved from the camera to make their way around social media and back to their owner.

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Kyla Irawan, Brianna’s mother, sent a message to Global News on Thursday afternoon through Facebook to say the photos had come from her daughter.

On Friday, Global News returned the camera — still in working order — to Brianna’s uncle, Travis Whiting, who is also Kelowna’s fire chief.






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‘This is the craziest thing,’: Lost GoPro owner reunited with camera


‘This is the craziest thing,’: Lost GoPro owner reunited with camera

The Irawans shared a message of gratitude with Van Buskirk.

“Thank you, Calvin, we totally appreciate your honesty,” said Kyla Irawan.

“Thank you for putting it on Global so I can give my daughter the opportunity to have all those memories back.”

For her part, Brianna said she can’t wait to see her FujiFilm XP model again.

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“Soon as I get it, I’m going to transfer the photos” to a computer, she said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Former UBC basketball assistant coach criticized for social media activity – The Province

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Long-time assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp will no longer work next to head coach Kevin Hanson.

The University of B.C. is distancing itself from former assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp following questions about some of his activity on social media.

A Twitter account called Muted Madness pointed out on Thursday that Knopp had hit the like button on a video posted by conservative comedians the Hodge Twins on June 3 that claims the Black Lives Matter movement is a “leftist lie.”

A number of other Twitter users echoed the criticism of Knopp, who served as head coach Kevin Hanson’s volunteer assistant for the past two decades.

Later on Thursday, he shared a comment on his account, which is set to private: “So I never knew some likes to conservative posts would cause this shit storm? However my LIKES are those of mine and have nothing to do with UBC! I had told Coach Hanson months ago that I wasn’t returning to UBC but I just not (sic) made it public, only to my family.”

Reached via direct message on Friday, Knopp said he’d told Hanson about his decision in May as well as some parents on the team, but declined to make further comment.

Later on Thursday, Kavie Toor, UBC Athletics’ managing director, distanced the university from Knopp.

“Vern Knopp’s personal opinions, beliefs and social media endorsements do not represent the ideals and values of the UBC Thunderbirds. Vern Knopp is no longer a member of the Thunderbrids men’s basketball coaching staff,” he tweeted.

On Friday, the university’s athletics department declined to comment further.

The Alma Mater Society, a UBC students’ union, expressed support for the university’s position.

“The AMS is committed to supporting students from the Black community at this time, and we are actively working to develop programming to help combat anti-Black racism at UBC. The sentiments expressed by Mr. Knopp have absolutely no place at UBC, and society in general,” they said in a statement.

“We are encouraged to see that UBC Athletics and Recreation has taken a zero-tolerance approach to this issue.”

On Tuesday, the department shared a message on Twitter from university president Santa Ono.

“As Thunderbirds we join all of UBC in condemning racism in all forms. We are committed to an inclusive and respectful environment where we listen, learn and continue to grow together,” the department said in a tweet.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

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