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In Weak Media Environment, Ex-BBC Russia Exec Thinks Brazil, Mexico, India Where It’s At – Forbes

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The Western world’s media industry is losing viewers. The pie is being cut into increasingly small slices of niche viewers that are often mixing it up with YouTube thought leaders, or niche content on social media apps like Twitch. Only around a third of those under 30 subscribe to the New York Times. At least 50% of Fox and MSNBC nightly viewers are over 50.

In the U.S., some podcasting talk show stars like Joe Rogan have more viewers than highly paid CNN staffers like Don Lemon. With that in mind, why would anyone want to invest in the media landscape? Surely, what’s happening in the U.S., will one day come to Brazil and India next.

But an ex-BBC Russia Exec, Wesley Dodd, isn’t scared. (Granted, if you can survive two years as a British newshound in Russia, you probably have nerves of steel, skin like Teflon.) There’s a reason for it, though. The shrinking cost structure and the general implosion of big media has created an opportunity for his now 7-year-old firm Celebro. In short, they are a studio outsourcer, content creator on the news side, and is generally there to be the temporary on-demand studio for local news outlets, and other media firms grappling with weaker revenues, and in some cases, disappearing viewers.

Celebro recently opened studios in New York, Miami and are now going after Las Vegas and Silicon Valley.

The real growth is in emerging market media. They, too, will be facing a downsizing frenzy in the years ahead.

“We have our sights set on 100 TV companies who we had identified as clients in Latin America, India and the Middle East,” says Dodd. The new roll out will open studios in Mexico City, Rio, Buenos Aires and Bogotá in early 2022, then Delhi, Mumbai and Karachi in Summer 2022. Their only emerging market now is Russia. In London, Moscow, and now in the United States, they work mainly with Fox, BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and CGTN. They also sell breaking news spots to around 20 National Broadcasters like Caracol Columbia.

All of this is a little different from the aching global news media market, though. Their pie is rather ‘meh’, but the pie the likes of Celebro is baking is a little sweeter, bigger, and growing.

The TV broadcast services market, which is where Celebro operates, is growing. The global television services market size is expected to reach $499.8 million in the next five years, with at a growth rate of 5.4% from 2021 to 2027, according to a report published this month by Allied Market Research. For comparison, the global broadcast media market is seen growing at a compound annual growth rate of 2.4%.

It’s Better in India

The reason every corporate (and portfolio) investor loves emerging markets is growth rates. Europe is a dinosaur. The U.S. is still interesting, especially for those servicing already existing media empires. India is forever expanding.

In 2024, television will make up 40% of the Indian media industry, 13% by print media, which is mostly the big daily newspapers. By 2024, India’s combined news and entertainment media industry is expected to reach $39 billion with a compound annual growth rate over the next three years of 9%, double the industry average for broadcast media service. This is not exactly comparing apples to apples. More like comparing granny smith apples to red delicious. It’s a close indicator of market demand, and India is where it is at.

India holds the most potential of any market in the world and its rate of growth will see total streaming video revenue overtake that of South Korea, Germany and Australia to become the 6th largest market for the likes of Indian Joe Rogan’s and Twitch rockstar gamers looking for studio space as they outgrow their home studio over the next three years, thinks Invest India, an Indian government investment promotion authority.

Mexico: Big Media, Big Government, Big Billionaires

Based on data compiled by Statista, the mass broadcast media sector as share of gross domestic product in Mexico has been in freefall between 2007 and 2019. Yet, the value of news and entertainment broadcast media market is expected to rise over the next three years, though not as fast as India’s.

Mexico’s Big Media isn’t going broke. It’s owned by the country’s oligarchs, and they survive on government ads. The medium sized ones, however, do not. They’re the target of companies like Celebro. Forbes billionaires Carlos Slim Helú (UnoTV), Ricardo Salinas Pliego (TV Azteca) and Emilio Azcárraga Jean (Televisa) might even become clients if they want to save a peso.

Further south, Brazil’s media market is similar. It is dominated by three news channels, led by Globo, which is in the middle of waging a war against the government for cutting its advertising and other spending. It is unclear if Globo is really in trouble due to its near-monopoly status, but Brazil’s media landscape is rich and it will trend along with the United States faster than Mexico does in terms of outsourcing news staff, studio space, and the growth of social media influencers also looking for studio space as a niche segment for broadcast service firms.

The value of the news and entertainment market in Brazil from 2014 to 2023 has been on a steady rise, similar to that of Mexico, according to Statista. Over the last 8 years ending 2018, growth of new news players has flatlined. Ad spending collapsed last year by nearly half for magazines and newspapers, and was kept alive by government and medical ads in 2020. It is unclear what kind of cost cutting will come of this, but that kind of headwind for newsrooms and content creators in general is a market for Celebro.

“We don’t feel that local broadcasters are our target market,” says Dodd. “Many of the big state or national broadcasters are slimming down, buying our services by the day or the hour is much more cost effective than running their own bureau now,” he says. “This is particular true of the Latin American market who need and want a presence in cities like Miami or Mexico City but don’t want the hassle of running a bureau. Because we ‘pool’ the resources in each location- the cost of a cameraman for a day is peanuts compared to a full-time staff cameraman.

First Channel in Russia do not have a studio in D.C from which to make a full show, but they can buy an hour In Celebro’s multi-million-dollar studio in D.C. This really allows ‘smaller‘ channels to punch above their weight,” Dodd says.

For Celebro, currently in expansion mode in the U.S. this year, the best markets are those where nations are looking to expand their content, national stories, or their government’s soft power overseas.

“A glossy TV channel is the ‘must have’ for an emerging nation,” says Dodd. “We allow a news channel to show that they have a point of presence in multiple key cities – a bureau with their own reporters but using Celebro facilities. Remember that in some countries there will be more than one such channel. Look how much comes out the Gulf nations today,” he says.

Back in the U.S., more bad news for the traditional news and entertainment business anyway (virtual reality and gaming are going bonkers): subscription TV revenue of $94.2 billion in 2019 will continue to contract by around 3% a year for the next three years, PwC said in a report.  

“The amount of news content globally is still growing,” says Dodd. “We are seeing the emerging markets wanting to have their own BBC/RT/CNN. It’s a way of projecting their muscle abroad, and we are here to help.”

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Tencent tanks 10% after Chinese media calls online gaming 'opium' as regulatory concerns mount – CNBC

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In this article

A logo of Tencent is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, November 23, 2020.
Aly Song | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — Shares of Tencent and NetEase plunged on Tuesday after Chinese state media branded online gaming “opium” and likened it to a drug.

The article also called for further restrictions on the industry in order to prevent addiction and other negative impacts on children.

However, the article was deleted a few hours after publication.

Tencent shares closed around 6% lower, while NetEase closed down almost 8% in Hong Kong, with both companies clawing back some earlier losses. Tencent is one of the world’s largest gaming companies responsible for high-profile games like “Honor of Kings.”

NetEase declined to comment. Tencent was not immediately available for comment.

The article, by Economic Information Daily, a Chinese state-run publication that’s affiliated to the official Xinhua newspaper, said that online gaming addiction among children is “widespread” and could negatively impact their growth.

The article said that in 2020, more than half China’s children were nearsighted and online games affects their education.

The sentiment in the article is not that new. For a long time, the Chinese government has been concerned about the impact of video games on minors.

In 2018, Beijing froze new game approvals over concerns that gaming was impacting youngsters’ eyesight. In China, online games require approvals from the regulators.

In 2019, China brought in rules that banned those under 18 years from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and restricted the amount of time they could play.

“The article brought attention to gaming addiction among minors. It is reminiscent of older articles where video games were compared to digital heroin,” said Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners.

“The timing of the article has raised concern among investors given the recent crackdown on tech companies and the education/tutoring sector.”

Tencent announces new measures

The article also called for more control over the amount of time children are playing games for and review content of games more stringently to reduce the amount of “improper” information shown to minors.

“For the next step, there should be stricter controls over the amount of time minors play online games. It should be reduced by large amount from current level,” the article said, according to a CNBC translation.

Both NetEase and Tencent have introduced measures to protect young players including real-name registrations to play games. Last month, Tencent introduced a facial recognition feature on smartphones to verify that the gamer is an adult.

But after the publication of the article on Tuesday, Tencent announced further gaming restrictions

It will reduce the amount of time those under 18 years old can play the company’s games on non-holiday days from 90 minutes to one hour and on holidays from 3 hours to 2 hours.

Tencent will also bar children under 12 years old from spending money in the game.

The gaming giant said it will also crack down on identity fraud to find minors who are using adults’ accounts to play games. These new measures will begin with Tencent’s “Honor of Kings” game and eventually roll out to other titles.

Tencent also called for the whole industry to discuss the feasibility of banning gaming for children under 12.

Ahmad noted that most revenue in China is generated by players who are 18 years old and above.

“If more measures come into place to prevent youth addiction to gaming, it won’t stop revenue generating gamers from playing,” Ahmad said.

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Media Beat: Aug. 03, 2021 | FYIMusicNews – FYI Music News

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Spectrum auction raises record $8.9B

Canada’s auction of 3500 MHz spectrum, which is key for next generation 5G networks, generated a record C$8.9 billion, with the country’s three dominant telecom companies accounting for more than 80% of the amount raised.

Out of 1,504 available licenses, 1,495 were awarded to 15 companies, including 757 licenses to small and regional providers, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Thursday.

Preliminary results showed that BCE Inc spent C$2.1B, Rogers C$3.3B and Telus Corp C$1.9B. – David Ljunggren & Moira Warburton, Reuters

Michael Geist vs Steven Guilbeault, the latest round

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was recently asked about his plans to mandate licensing of links to news articles on social-media sites such as Facebook. While the policy is often referred to as a link tax, Mr. Guilbeault insisted that it was not a tax, stating “some people think every time the government acts, it’s a tax. What I’m working on has nothing to do with tax.” Instead of a government tax scheme, Mr. Guilbeault explained that he intends to have the Copyright Board of Canada set a fee for the links to articles, backed by government power to levy fines for non-payment.

Leaving aside the semantic debate over what constitutes a government tax, my Globe and Mail op-ed argues that the comments are notable because when it comes to addressing the concerns associated with the large technology companies, Canada should be working on taxation. Mr. Guilbeault has said his top legislative priority is to “get money from web giants,” yet rather than focusing on conventional tax policy, his preference is to entrench cross-subsidy programs that keep the money out of general tax revenues and instead allow for direct support to pet projects and favoured sectors.

Northern Canada may be a popular destination at the end of the world

Islands with low population density, particularly those with distinct seasonal changes, fared the best with New Zealand topping the list compiled by Global Sustainability Institute.

 Iceland, U.K., Australia (specifically Tasmania) and Ireland made up the rest of the shortlist where it would be best for society to restart after a collapse.

Northern Canada, while not on the shortlist, could act as a “lifeboat” in the event of societal collapse due to climate change and extreme temperatures, but survival would rely on maintaining agriculture and renewable energy sources to keep the population alive. – Brooke Taylor, CTV News

Cancel culture chic is worrisome to the majority of US electorate, study shows

Religion and politics are never polite subjects to discuss in mixed company. But imagine if what most people consider to be merely a social faux pas became the reason you were fired from your job, sued, or had all of your personal information spread publicly on the internet. Simply because someone at the table disagreed with whom you voted for.

For most of American history, this response would be unfathomable.

But it happens every day.

Journalists and editors get fired for printing differing opinions—even if they don’t agree with that opinion themselves. Small business owners get sued or fined for following their conscience. Workers get fired for social media posts from their youth. Not even Abraham Lincoln is safe when the mob is on a warpath.

The danger and destruction of cancel culture is far-reaching and, if we aren’t careful, it could become a defining characteristic of American culture for posterity.

It’s a popular issue with the talking heads on cable news, but the Center for Excellence in Polling wanted to see what a diverse population of the United States thought of “canceling” people for their beliefs.

The results paint a very different picture than the woke elites would have you believe.

Behind the Facebook-fueled rise of The Epoch Times

Started almost two decades ago with a stated mission to “provide information to Chinese communities to help immigrants assimilate into American society,” The Epoch Times now wields one of the biggest social media followings of any news outlet. – Brandy Zadrozny & Ben Collins, CNBC News

How to defend yourself against NSO spyware attacks

There may be no such thing as perfect security, as one classic adage in the field states, but that’s no excuse for passivity. Here, then, are practical steps you can take to reduce your “attack surface” and protect yourself against spyware like NSO’s. – The Intercept

CNN’s interview with Tom Walker (aka Jonathan Pie) takes an unexpected turn, 11/19

[embedded content]

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Reese Witherspoon’s Media Company Hello Sunshine Reportedly Sells for $900 Million – Vanity Fair

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“This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter,” Witherspoon said of the sale to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc.

Reese Witherspoon’s five-year-old media company, Hello Sunshine, is expanding its reach. The starry entity, which was founded by Witherspoon in 2016, has been sold to a media firm backed by private-equity group Blackstone Group Inc, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Hello Sunshine has reportedly been valued at $900 million, people familiar with the deal told WSJ.

The company, which has already spawned a film and TV production company, its own VOD network (complete with Witherspoon’s first-ever talk show, Shine on with Reese), and book club, centers on stories by and for women. Hello Sunshine has produced films such as Gone Girl and Wild and shows including HBO’s Big Little Lies, Apple’s The Morning Show, and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere. “I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter.”

Reports began to circulate last month that Hello Sunshine was considering a sale and could receive a $1 billion valuation. The currently unnamed media partnership between Blackstone and Hello Sunshine will be headed by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Hello Sunshine is the first acquisition for the firm, which will retain Witherspoon and her company’s Chief Executive, Sarah Harden, as members of their board. Blackstone is reportedly shelling out more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from Hello Sunshine’s investors.

The sale of Hello Sunshine to Blackstone is “part of a plan to build an independent entertainment company for Hollywood’s streaming era,” WSJ reports. It comes amidst a time when high-profile stars like Scarlett Johansson are bucking against the idea of their films debuting simultaneously on streaming and theatrically. Like projects of Hello Sunshine’s past, its upcoming slate includes adaptations of popular novels—the film Where The Crawdads Sing and Amazon series Daisy Jones and The Six.

More Great Stories From Vanity Fair

— Searching for the Truth About Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento
— How Never Have I Ever Tore Up the “Immigrant Mom” Trope
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— Sign up for the “HWD Daily” newsletter for must-read industry and awards coverage—plus a special weekly edition of Awards Insider.

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