100% Media Roundup: 22 August- 26 August
This is a daily digest of news stories from around the media world, updated by The Media Leader team, to ensure you’re 100% up-to-date.
Friday, 26 August
BBC responds to Maitlis criticism
The BBC has responded to criticisms made by former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.
In a lecture at the Edinburgh international TV festival, Maitlis accused the BBC’s board of containing ‘active Tory agents’, namely Sir Robbie Glib, that shape the broadcaster’s output and in one instance caved to accusations of impartiality.
The BBC has since told multiple outlets that it denies the accusations, saying: “The BBC places the highest value on due impartiality and accuracy and we apply these principles to our reporting on all issues.
“As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight we did not take action as a result of any pressure from Number 10 or Government and to suggest otherwise is wrong.
“The BBC found the programme breached its editorial standards and that decision still stands.”
Waitlist open to talk to Google’s AI chatbot
Google has created a waitlist for users interested in helping test the company’s latest LaMDA 2 (Language Model for Dialog Applications) AI chatbot.
Large-scale user testing is the most efficient way to test AI for errors, though it can come with PR risks—Meta’s latest chatbot almost immediately began spouting offensive speech and called Mark Zuckerberg “creepy and manipulative”.
Read more about AI here:
BBC to bring back Gladiators
Gladiators, the 1990s sports entertainment game show, is returning to the BBC with an 11-episode series airing in 2023.
The return of Gladiators will be made by Hungry Bear Media and MGM Television UK and will film at the Utilita Arena Sheffield.
The new series will include brand new games alongside classic challenges, culminating at the end of each episode with fan favourite The Eliminator.
Instagram to show less ‘sensitive content’ to under-16s
Instagram has updated its Sensitive Content Control policy to show under-16s less content the platform deems “potentially sensitive”.
The update now creates two options for teens to interact with sensitive content: “Standard” and “Less”.
New Instagram users under the age of 16 will be defaulted into the “Less” category while existing users will be sent a prompt encouraging them to do so.
The change comes following heavy criticism that the social media platform is harmful to teens following disclosures made by Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen.
Earlier this year, US senators introduced the Kids Online Safety Act with the goal of forcing social media companies to take action to protect teens from harmful content.
Thursday, 25 August
NewsGuard partners with Semasio to protect brands from ad placements on misinformation
Digital news credibility ratings provider NewsGuard is partnering with unified contextual ad targeting company Semasio with the goal of helping to protect brands from ad placements on misinformation and making it easier for brands to direct ad spend toward credible news sites.
Through the partnership, brands will be able to activate a set of contextual segments curated based on data from NewsGuard’s team of journalists, who assess the credibility of news and information sources using “nine basic, apolitical journalistic criteria, flagging publishers that fail to meet basic journalistic standards”.
Two such publishers that were recently flagged as untrustworthy by NewsGuard include FoxNews.com and MSNBC.com, which critics from both ends of the political spectrum have called controversial.
Brands using Semasio will now be able to enable pre-bid suppression ad placements on sites NewsGuard has flagged for publishing anti-vaccine information misinformation, election integrity hoaxes, Russia-Ukraine war disinformation, and other similar categories of false or unreliable news.
Comscore and NewsGuard estimate that $2.6bn is (typically inadvertently) spent placing ads on misinformation and disinformation websites each year.
The NewsGuard segments are expected to launch within the Semasio platform in Q3 of this year.
Twitter whistleblower to testify to Congress
Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 13 regarding his allegations of cybersecurity failures at the social media company.
BREAKING: Chair @SenatorDurbin and Ranking Member @ChuckGrassley announced a full Committee hearing to investigate allegations of widespread security failures at Twitter and foreign state actor interference on Tuesday, September 13 at 10am.
— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) August 24, 2022
Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin stated in a tweet: “Mr. Zatko’s allegations of widespread security failures and foreign state interference raise serious concerns. If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world.”
The US government has been circling the issue of cracking down on various social media companies for months.
Senators in July called for the Federal Trade Commission to probe TikTok for data privacy concerns, with the Federal Communications Commissioner calling the app a national security threat.
A tech antitrust bill is also currently moving through Congress, but it is unclear if it will be brought to a vote ahead of the midterm elections.
TalkSport announces Premier League coverage sponsors
TalkSport, the sports radio station and global audio rights holder of the Premier League, has announced a slate of sponsors for this season’s coverage.
On-demand TV partner NOW and CarFinance 247 are the two headline sponsors. NOW will have credits and live reads in and around Premier League commentary and TalkSport will create exclusive match previews for NOW.
This marks CarFinance 247’s first major partnership with a radio network, and along with NOW will have access to digital properties as well as broadcast output.
Betfair will be the weekday betting partner, while Ladbroke will cover weeknights from 7- 10pm. Both brands’ packages will be based around live odds pre and in-game as well as live features with a spokesperson in match build up.
Airtime partners for TalkSport’s Premier League coverage include Village Hotels, Selco, Just Eat, On The Market, The Times and Asahi. They will be the only spot advertisers around Premier League commentary for the 2022/2023 season.
Private equity set to buy Pink Floyd back catalogue for up to $500m
US private equity company Blackstone is in talks to buy Pink Floyd’s back catalogue for up to half a billion dollars, the Financial Times reports.
The deal would be struck through Hipnosis song Management, the London-listed hedge fund founded by Merck Mercuriadis, a former manager for Elton John.
Pink Floyd would become the latest major music act to sell its back catalogue to Hipnosis. Last year Neil Young sold half of his back catalogue to Hipnosis. The Red Hot Chili Peppers struck a similar deal last May, while Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks sold 80% of her song rights to publishing house Primary Wave in December 2020. That same month, Bob Dylan sold his entire catalogue to Universal Music Group for £225m.
The Media Leader editor Omar Oakes wrote in February: “Hedge funds and record labels know that there is big money in having exclusive rights to mega-artists who won’t live forever and can’t benefit from film and TV royalties after they’re dead.”
Emily Maitlis calls BBC board member ‘active Tory agent’
Ex-BBC journalist, Emily Maitlis, has said there is an “active agent of the Conservative Party” on the BBC Board shaping the broadcaster’s output.
The former Newsnight presenter said Sir Robbie Gibb, who was appointed to the BBC’s board last year by Boris Johnson’s government, was “acting as the arbiter of BBC impartiality”.
Gibb was previously Theresa May’s director of communications and helped found GB News.
Maitlis left the BBC earlier this year with former BBC North America editor Jon Sopel to join Global where they will launch a daily news podcast, The News Agents, slated for first broadcast on Monday.
Meta and Twitter removed accounts deceptively promoting pro-US narratives
Meta and Twitter removed two overlapping groups of accounts in July and August for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and “platform manipulation and spam”, respectively, a Stanford study found.
The accounts used “deceptive tactics” to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia over the past five years, including rhetoric highly critical of Russia, China, and Iran.
It is the first time social media platforms have discovered and removed pro-US influence campaigns.
The researchers at Stanford discovered the tactics generally had relatively limited direct effects, with the “vast majority” of posts receiving no more than a handful of likes or retweets, though a small number of posts did go viral.
NBC and Bravo shows will stream next-day on Peacock
Peacock will become the streaming home of NBC and Bravo, offering next-day access to current seasons of shows on both channels beginning September 19.
Peacock customers will be able to access next-day streams of NBC’s hit late night shows The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers (pictured, main), and Saturday Night Live as well as the Law & Order franchise, among other fan favorites.
Bravo shows like The Real Housewives and Below Deck will receive the same treatment.
Peacock is ad-supported but promises less than five minutes of ads per hour.
Wednesday, 24 August
Pinterest announces Stacy Malone as VP of global business marketing
Pinterest has announced Stacy Malone as its new VP of global business marketing.
She will be tasked with setting the long-term vision for how Pinterest reaches and markets to businesses and agencies of all sizes globally.
Malone (pictured, above) joins Pinterest from Meta, where she, among other roles, led the North America Business Marketing team. Prior to working at Meta, she was chief operating officer of UM Worldwide, IPG’s largest media agency.
Malone will report to Andréa Mallard, Pinterest’s chief marketing officer.
OnTheMarket launches three-part TV series with Channel 4
OnTheMarket, a UK residential property portal provider, will launch a three-part series, Finding the Cornish Dream, on Channel 4 this weekend.
The series will follow Cornish estate agents taking buyers through dream houses in Cornwall as well as stories about locals struggling to buy and aspirational buyers coming to the coast.
The branded entertainment partnership aims to build awareness of OnTheMarket’s offering to buyers and sellers, while showing the natural beauty of Cornwall, its housing market and the role of local estate agents.
OnTheMarket will sponsor the series on air and across All 4, with selected clips used across social channels.
The series was commissioned by Jasper Hone at Channel 4 and developed with MediaCom UK, Flicker Productions and Channel 4 and will launch on 27 August at 5.30pm.
Meta and Snap reach settlements over separate data privacy lawsuits
Meta and Snap have both separately reached settlements over data privacy lawsuits this week.
Meta reached a $37.5m settlement after Facebook was charged in 2018 with tracking users’ locations, despite their disabling Location Services, via their IP addresses to send targeted ads.
Snap, meanwhile, reached a $35m settlement in a class-action lawsuit in Illinois which alleged Snap was illegally collecting and storing users’ biometric data without their consent through the use of Lenses and filters.
Meta and Snap both denied wrongdoing despite the settlements.
Heat launches seven-minute podcast with The Smart 7
Bauer magazine title, Heat, will launch its first podcast on 5 September.
The podcast, The heat 7, will be in partnership with Daft Doris’ daily news podcast The Smart 7 which currently has three million downloads and delivers the seven biggest stories in under seven minutes to listeners by 7am.
Heat‘s podcast will go out every Monday to Saturday at 7am, giving listeners the seven biggest entertainment, showbiz, reality and social stories in less than seven minutes.
It will be available to listen and download on Planet Radio, Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and all mainstream podcast providers.
Bauer Media’s chief content officer, Lucie Cave, Heat digital’s deputy editor, Eden-Olivia Lord, are the team behind the podcast.
DoubleVerify appoints regional vice president for northern Europe
DoubleVerify, the digital media measurement, data and analytics platform, has appointed Lawrence Horne as regional vice president for northern Europe.
Horne (pictured, above) will start in the role immediately, which will be based in London, leading regional sales teams and maintaining relationships with the company’s global customers.
Previously he worked for Time Out for more than five years, most recently as managing director for EMEA, and also has prior roles at Say Media, VideoEgg, Mirror Group Newspapers, VC Media, and Haymarket Publishing.
Netflix launches Netflix Heads Up! mobile game
Netflix has launched a Netflix-exclusive version of the popular mobile game Heads Up! in partnership with Ellen Digital Ventures.
Netflix Heads Up! offers the same charades-like gameplay loop as the original party game, but includes 28 unique decks that take advantage of Netflix’s properties, such as Bridgerton, Squid Game, and Stranger Things.
Amazon partners with DirecTV to bring Thursday Night Football to bars, restaurants
Amazon and DirecTV have entered into a multi-year agreement to offer Prime Video’s now-exclusive slate of Thursday Night Football games to NFL fans watching in bars, restaurants, hotel lounges, casinos and sports books, retail shops and services, and many other venues across the US.
DirecTV’s coverage will include over 300,000 unique venues, including everything from large chains to local independent pubs.
Read more about sports streaming here:
Tuesday, 23 August
Twitter whistleblower alleges ‘egregious’ negligence in cybersecurity policies
Twitter’s former head of security and esteemed cybersecurity expert Peiter “Mudge” Zatko has alleged that the social media company has misled federal regulators about its cybersecurity practices.
Zatko said that deficiencies in Twitter’s cybersecurity amounted to significant national security threats and that the company regularly mishandles user data and does not have the capacity to adequately understand the extent of its fake account problem.
The whistleblowing occurs ahead of the October 17 trial between Twitter and Elon Musk over whether Musk can back out of his purchase of the company.
At the center of Musk’s reasoning for terminating the deal is an allegation that Twitter misled him about the number of bots on the platform.
Zatko was hired by then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2020 and was fired by CEO Parag Agrawal in January 2022.
In statement to those publications, a spokesperson for Twitter called Zatko’s allegations a “false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context”.
Lachlan Murdoch files suit against Crikey
A day after Crikey, a small independent Australian news site, dared Lachlan Murdoch to follow through on his legal threats against the publication, Murdoch has officially filed suit.
Murdoch is accusing Crikey of defamation for an opinion article that lambasted former President Donald Trump and the Murdoch’s Fox News for their “treachery” in relation to the attempted insurrection on January 6, 2021.
Instagram is ‘prototyping a BeReal competitor’
Instagram is internally prototyping “IG Candid Challenges”, a feature similar to the ascendant BeReal, according to a report by The Verge.
BeReal, which has topped app store charts this summer, uses time constraints on its posts to encourage a more authentic social experience amongst its users.
Meta-owned Instagram and Facebook have been known to create clones of competitor social media products; in 2016 Instagram copied Snapchat’s popular Stories function, and more recently the company has been controversially adapting its products to be more like TikTok.
Elon Musk submits subpoena to Jack Dorsey
In advance of Elon Musk and Twitter’s October 17 trial over Musk’s attempt to back out of his deal to buy the social media platform, lawyers for Musk have subpoenaed former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
The subpoena asks for Dorsey to provide the following list of documents:
- Documents and Communications regarding the Merger and the transaction contemplated by the Merger, the Merger Agreement, any potential acquisition or transaction between Defendants and Twitter, Defendants’ potential or actual acquisition of shares of Twitter common stock, Defendants’ potential membership on the Twitter Board, and Documents and Communications otherwise regarding Twitter and any of Defendants.
- Documents and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to the impact or effect of false or spam accounts on Twitter’s business and operations.
- Documents and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to Twitter’s use of mDAU as a “Key Metric,” as noted in Twitter’s SEC filings, including Documents and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to the relationship between mDAU and Twitter’s present or future revenue or EBITDA. and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to Twitter’s use of mDAU as a “Key Metric,” as noted in Twitter’s SEC filings, including Documents and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to the relationship betweenmDAU and Twitter’s present or future revenue or EBITDA.
- Documents and Communications reflecting, referring to, or relating to Twitter’s use of any other user metric other than mDAU, including but not limited to, daily active users, monthly active users, daily user engagement, monthly user engagement, or advertisement engagements.
- Documents and Communications describing any process or workflow, other than the mDAU Audit and the suspension workflow, that Twitter uses, has used, or has discussed or considered using to detect and label accounts as spam or false.
- Documents reflecting business plans or analyses for achieving mDAU targets.
- Documents and Communications relating to incorporating mDAU into executive or director compensation, including but not limited to any annual compensation targets, bonus pools, incentive plans, or performance-based restricted stock units.
Australian indie publication defiant in face of legal threats from Lachlan Murdoch
Independent Australian publication Crikey has decided to release a number of letters from lawyers representing Lachlan Murdoch threatening the small publication with defamation lawsuits over a June op-ed entitled “Trump is a confirmed unhinged traitor. And Murdoch is his unindicted co-conspirator“.
In an open letter to Murdoch, Crikey stated its concern that Australia’s defamation laws are too restrictive and explained it is publishing all legal demands and accusations from Murdoch’s lawyers and all replies from Crikey‘s lawyers “so people can judge your allegations for themselves”.
Crikey dared Murdoch to follow through on his threats to sue, writing: “We want to defend those allegations in court. You have made it clear in your lawyer’s letters you intend to take court action to resolve this alleged defamation. We await your writ so that we can test this important issue of freedom of public interest journalism in a courtroom”.
NUJ sets up hardship fund for Reach journalists set to strike
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have set up a fund to support striking journalists at Reach who are set to walk out for the first day out of four this Friday.
In a message to its members, the NUJ said: “As NUJ members across Reach gear up for strike action, we are launching a union-wide appeal raising funds for a special NUJ hardship fund. All donations will be gratefully received – please also encourage whip-rounds and donations from your chapels and branches.”
Both the NUJ and Reach have called for last-minute talks to avert the four days of strike action over pay disputes which will affect union members across national and regional publications including The Mirror, The Daily Express, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News.
The union previously rejected a salary increase of 3% or £750, whichever is more, for its members at Reach saying this would not be enough to help with the cost-of-living crisis.
Reach has said it remains open to negotiations but also said there will be no increased pay offer on the table.
YouTube adds dedicated podcast page in US
YouTube has launched a dedicated homepage for podcasts, according to reports.
The page, YouTube.com/podcasts, reportedly went live unannounced last month and is now linked for some US users on YouTube’s Explore page.
It seeks to better promote, recommend, and organize video and audio podcast content on the platform.
The URL is currently unavailable outside of the US, leading instead to a 404 Not Found page.
Channel 4 celebrates 40th anniversary with ‘irreverent’ commissions
Channel 4 is celebrating 40 years of programming by commissioning programmes speaking to “its radical, irreverent and iconoclastic roots”.
As part of its Truth and Dare season it has commissioned a “scabrously funny satirical musical” about Prince Andrew, The Return of Friday Night Live, a comedy show that launched the careers of Ben Elton, French and Saunders, Julian Clary, Fry and Laurie and Jo Brand, and Art Trouble with Jimmy Carr exploring cancel culture in the art world.
Also documentaries on topics from the 1980s to the porn industry, the monarchy and transgender rights with The ’80s: The Future is Now, Too Large for Love, Afghan Porn Star , Frankie Boyle: Monarchy (pictured, main image)and What is a Woman?.
Ian Katz, chief content officer at Channel 4 said: “Instead of a nostalgia-thon of highlights from the last four decades, we are celebrating with a collection of irreverent, thought-provoking and hugely entertaining shows that no other broadcaster would air. If we must age, we plan to do it disgracefully.”
House of the Dragon premiere nets record 10 million viewers
HBO’s House of the Dragon drew 9.99 million viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms in the US on Sunday night.
According to HBO, it is the largest audience for any new original series in its history.
Warner Bros. Discovery noted that Sunday night viewership for HBO series typically represents just 20-40% of the show’s total gross audience as more viewers watch on-demand at a later date.
Warner Bros. Discovery is hoping to ride the wave of enthusiasm for House of the Dragon this fall as it heavily promotes the Game of Thrones prequel.
Game of Thrones also wrapped its strongest week on HBO Max to date, according to HBO, capping off a seven-week stretch of week-over-week growth in engagement leading up to House of the Dragon‘s premiere.
Monday, 22 August
HBO Max removes over 200 Sesame Street episodes, 20 HBO Max Originals
HBO Max has been removing large swaths of content from its streaming service, according to reports.
Though all streaming services constantly add and remove content, Warner Bros. Discovery has been making headlines for its removal of fan-favorite shows—namely over 200 episodes of children’s educational program Sesame Street—and 20 HBO Max Originals.
The loss of Originals has drawn condemnation from some producers, as the content is now in limbo as it does not exist elsewhere.
We worked for 5 years to make 100 episodes of animation. We worked late into the night, we let ourselves go, we were a family of hard working artists who wanted to make something beautiful, and HBO MAX just pulled them all like we were nothing. Animation is not nothing!
— Julia Pott (@juliapott) August 18, 2022
The moves by Warner Bros. Discovery, which are purportedly being done to save money, are the latest in a string of controversial decisions related to HBO Max, including the binning of Batgirl despite its being in the late stages of post-production.
CEO David Zaslav has stated HBO Max will be merged with Discovery+ by next summer.
Read more about Warner Bros. Discovery here:
Netflix ‘might not advertise on kids programs and new films’
Netflix is considering making kids programs and recently debuted films ad-free on its soon-to-come ad tier, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Disney+ announced it would institute a similar policy earlier this year.
Rumors have been circulating about details for Netflix’s ad plan; Bloomberg also reported last week Netflix was considering disallowing ad tier users from downloading movies and shows to watch offline.
Netflix’s ad tier is slated to launch in early 2023.
UK PSBs pen open letter for sports rights protection
A group of UK public service broadcasters have published an open letter in The Daily Telegraph saying a media bill is required “to secure the future of British broadcasting and allow it to prosper”.
In particular, the letter said major sporting events, like the Olympics and World Cup, risk going behind a paywall without new government legislation introduced by Boris Johnson’s successor, and “urgent changes are required” if public sector broadcasters are to remain “bedrock of great British content.”
The letter was signed by the director-general of the BBC, Tim Davie, and ITV CEO, Carolyn McCall, as well as heads of Channel 5, STV and S4C.
The letter was not signed by Channel 4, which is facing privatisation under the proposed media bill.
Cineworld ‘considering US bankruptcy filing’
Global cinema chain Cineworld is considering filing for bankruptcy in the US, according to reports.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Cineworld was nearing bankruptcy on Friday following a lag in reported cinema business even after the cessation of pandemic restrictions.
The consideration comes despite optimism that blockbuster films were driving a strong return of audiences to cinemas.
Cineworld, which owns Picturehouse Cinemas in the UK, is the world’s second-largest cinema chain behind AMC Theatres, which revitalized its business on the back of meme stock investors during the pandemic.
Maitlis and Sopel announce details of new daily Global podcast
Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel, former BBC Newsnight presenter and North America editor respectively, have teased details of new daily podcast premiering next week.
The podcast, called The News Agents, will launch on 30 August and be released every day Monday to Friday. Each episode will be between 30 minutes and an hour long and the pair will also debut content on TikTok.
Mark Zuckerberg responds to metaverse graphics criticism
In an Instagram post over the weekend, Mark Zuckerberg responded to criticisms about the poor graphical quality of the metaverse, highlighted in a press image shared announcing the launch of Horizon Worlds, Meta’s virtual reality product, in France and Spain.
The image was quickly memed online for its poor graphical fidelity.
calling off work to make more of these pic.twitter.com/8eHgJMwnzn
— soul nate (@MNateShyamalan) August 19, 2022
“Major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics coming soon. I’ll share more at Connect,” said Zuckerberg in his post.
“Also, I know the photo I posted earlier this week was pretty basic — it was taken very quickly to celebrate a launch. The graphics in Horizon are capable of much more — even on headsets — and Horizon is improving very quickly.”
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Paramount retains US rights to UEFA Champions League for $1.5bn
Paramount, which owns both CBS and Paramount+, has outbid Amazon to retain the UEFA Champions League, according to reports.
The production and distribution company will reportedly pay $1.5bn over six years for the English-language streaming rights (the Spanish rights are still up for grabs).
Paramount still has two years left on its current deal with UEFA, meaning its broadcasting and streaming rights will now extend through 2030.
Paramount reportedly paid more than 2.5x the price of its previous deal, signifying the ongoing inflation of sports media rights costs.
Myrie to deliver Steve Hewlett memorial lecture
The BBC journalist and newsreader Clive Myrie will give the Steve Hewlett Memorial Lecture 2022.
The lecture, titled The BBC – Destroy at Your Peril, is co-sponsored by the Royal Television Society and the Media Society and proceeds will go to the Steve Hewlett Scholarship Fund for young journalists.
The fund was set up after Hewlett’s death in 2017 and is chaired by Sir Clive Jones, and managed by Jones, Steve’s widow Rachel Crellin, and the former BBC current affairs producer John Mair.
To date six Hewlett scholars have been helped through media/journalism courses at university.
Pizza Hut launches first actionable audio ad
Pizza Hut has become the latest brand to launched its first “actionable audio ad” via smart speakers.
Amazon Echo smart speaker listeners who hear the Pizza Hut ad on digital radio stations will be able to claim a discount by saying “Alexa, open Pizza Hut delivery”. They will be able to access more product information or get a coupon sent to their phone straight away.