HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

COVID-19 stopped film and television production in its tracks. Now, the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) formed an HPA Industry Recovery Task Force to examine how to move forward with new content creation and sustainably restart the production and post-production industries as the world wrestles the pandemic. HPA president Seth Hallen announced that the task force’s “focus is to understand how to get our industry back to work.” The Hollywood film and TV industry directly employs about 927,000 people across the country. Continue reading HPA Forms Task Force to Guide Return of Film & TV Industry

Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Drive-in theaters have been in decline since the 1970s, with only 300 such theaters still open in the U.S. Now, with movie theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of those remaining drive-ins are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. In Virginia, one 54-year old theater is open for business, with at least three of that state’s other drive-ins ready to reopen. According to United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association president John Vincent, about 150 drive-ins will reopen in the next three weeks as the shutdowns are lifted. Continue reading Some Drive-Ins Experience New Life as Movie Theaters Close

Amazon Struggles to Adapt to Many Challenges of Pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon and its chief executive Jeff Bezos are weathering volatile times. Amazon is suffering shortages of goods, delays in shipping, an employee sick-out at Whole Foods Markets, and a walkout at a fulfillment center, which led to the firing of the strike leader. Amazon’s removal of counterfeit/price gouging products also means a shortage in face masks and sanitizers. At the same time, Amazon’s cloud-services company Amazon Web Services is booming, as home-bound customers stream content on Amazon Prime. Continue reading Amazon Struggles to Adapt to Many Challenges of Pandemic

Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

During the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. federal government, via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, is receiving analyses of people’s movements — based on location data from millions of mobile phones — in “certain areas of geographic interest.” The data, provided by the mobile advertising industry, is being used to understand how such movements may be impacting the spread of coronavirus. MIT researchers are also debuting a project to track COVID-19 patients via a phone app. Continue reading Government, MIT Analyze Location Data For Spread of Virus

Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

Due to concerns regarding the coronavirus, broadcast TV programmers have canceled their in-person Upfront pitches to advertisers, scheduled for May in New York City. Viacom’s CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox Corp. and ABC parent Disney are calling off their annual stage shows, although advertisers will still seek to ink deals with them. NBCUniversal’s chair of advertising and partnerships Linda Yaccarino noted that, “this year’s Upfront presentation will ensure everybody’s safety, while allowing us to give fans and marketers a preview of the upcoming season.” Continue reading Broadcast TV Programmers Move Upfronts to Online Platforms

Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Following pressure from activist investor Elliott Management, Nielsen Holdings announced plans to split the media research firm into two independent publicly traded companies. Nielsen revealed it would create two separate companies by spinning off its Global Connect business. In a deal expected to close in 9-12 months, the two companies will be named Global Connect and Global Media. “Both the Global Media and Global Connect businesses are independently essential to the industries they serve, but each business has unique dynamics,” explained CEO David Kenny, who will stay on as chief exec of the Global Media business.  Continue reading Nielsen Will Split into Two Firms Following Activist Pressure

Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

In 2020, Amazon will open a new branded grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, a suburb in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. The company is reportedly planning additional stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Amazon stated it will feature traditional checkouts, rather than Amazon Go cashier-less technology. Amazon currently owns Whole Foods, with 500 stores, purchased for $13.2 billion in 2017 and Amazon Go, and offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, its website and Prime Now. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

SoftBank Group founder Masayoshi Son and board director Rajeev Misra, who is also SoftBank Investment Advisers chief executive, are focused on saving the Vision Fund, whose bets on Uber Technologies and WeWork have been disastrous. Last week, SoftBank bailed out WeWork, whose value had dipped 80 percent below its peak, with $10 billion. The London-based private investment fund debuted two years ago, with the goal of raising $100 billion to invest in startups valued at $1+ billion, the so-called unicorns of Silicon Valley. Continue reading SoftBank Charts New Direction Following WeWork Debacle

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

WeWork’s largest investor, SoftBank, took over the ailing company and ousted co-founder/former chief executive Adam Neumann. WeWork, which ran out of money quickly after failing to go public, attempted to reinvent how office space is sublet, with a technology twist. But Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business management professor Vijay Govindarajan noted that the startup’s business model “is nothing more than a real estate play.” SoftBank, which has a three-year plan to save WeWork, put top executive Marcelo Claure at the helm. Continue reading SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

According to sources, Apple is in talks with cinema chains to open its feature-length films in a traditional theatrical release, with an exclusive stay in theaters before becoming available on Apple TV+. Apple might choose, however, to first debut its films in art house cinemas in New York and Los Angeles. The company reportedly is pursuing this strategy to draw in major directors and producers, as well as avoid the tension Netflix created when it released its movies without an exclusivity window. Continue reading Apple Aims for Traditional Theatrical Exhibition of Its Movies

With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

When WeWork, the office-space startup renamed We Company, was valued at $47 billion, skeptics expressed concern that, in 2018, it lost $1.6 billion on revenues of $1.82 billion. Still, many stuck with co-founder/chief executive Adam Neumann. But when We Company faced its IPO, more concerns were voiced about its business model and profit potential. After mulling over reducing its valuation by half, WeWork postponed the IPO. Now, said sources, some board members and investors are discussing the ouster of Neumann. Continue reading With IPO on Hold, WeWork Investors Consider CEO’s Future

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

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