Corporate Power/Consolidation

Philadelphia newspapers sold to lenders

Christopher K. Hepp and Harold Brubaker , Phladelphia Inquirer

Brian P. Tierney, CEO of Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., announced Wednesday afternoon that the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com has been sold to its senior lenders.

The $139 million deal includes a $39.2 million in debt and $69 million in cash equity, plus the value of the company's real estate, estimated at $30 million for the purposes of the bankruptcy auction.

"Brian Tierney was extremely gracious in defeat. He pledged his support for a smooth transition. The senior lenders were very grateful," said Ben Logan, a lawyer for the committee of unsecured creditors.

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Qwest to merge with CenturyLink

Karl Bode, Broadband DSL Reports

It looks like Qwest has finally found their suitor. CenturyLink and Qwest announced this morning that CenturyLink will acquire Qwest in a tax-free, stock-for-stock transaction worth about $10.5 billion. The deal also includes CenturyLink taking on $11.8 billion in Qwest debt -- which Qwest had been busily trying to reduce for several years now in order to attract a buyer. The new, larger CenturyLink will offer service in 37 states, and the new combined business will serve approximately 5 million broadband customers, 17 million access lines, 1,415,000 video subscribers and 850,000 wireless consumers.

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Comcast CEO paid $34 million in 2009

Reuters

Comcast Corp's chief operating officer Stephen Burke was the highest paid executive at the No. 1 U.S. cable company last year, topping even his boss Brian Roberts.

Burke was paid a total compensation package of $34 million in 2009, according to regulatory filings, a big jump from the $22.6 million he received in 2008. Last year he was paid a $3 million bonus and his stock awards more than doubled to $10 million.

His pay overtook CEO Roberts' $27.2 million package in 2009, which rose from $26.2 million. Roberts has previously been criticized by some corporate governance watchers for being paid high compensation.

Bu

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Court lifts stay on media ownership rules--consolidation can go ahead

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated its stay of the media ownership rules and set a briefing schedule beginning May 17.

Back in December, the court gave the FCC and backers of its position three weeks to explain why it should not lift the years-long stay on the commission's media ownership rule rewrite and start hearing the legal challenges.

The court has now decided to proceed with the case despite FCC requests that it allow the commission to review the rules first.

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Connecting the telecom dots behind net neutrality (it's about the money)

Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge

The Pew and the American Life project came out with a pretty scary report last week. The words, “Pew” and “scary” aren’t often used together, but in this case the description is apt.

Pew’s latest study on the future of the Internet asked in technical terms whether the Internet over the next 10 year will be controlled by consumers. The specific question was: Will the Internet still be dominated by the end‐to‐end principle? The “end-to-end principle” that was built into the Internet at its early stages means that consumers at one end of an Internet connection had a direct, one-to-one relationship with the online destination – a chat site, music site, shopping site, news site, whatever you want and wherever you want to go without interference or influence from the company making that connection for you – the Internet Service Provider (ISP).

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Unions blast Comcast-NBC merger proposal

John Eggerton, Broadcasting and Cable

Union representatives had plenty to say about the proposed Comcast/NBCU merger, according to a copy of their prepared testimony for Thursday's House Antitrust Committee hearing.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America, which represents some Comcast employees, said the deal would likely mean "the loss of good jobs, the erosion of employee rights, and undermine living standards in the communications and media industries."

He said that given the $8 billion in new debt NBC will be taking on day one, there will be "intense pressure" to cut costs.

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Qwest profits sag 39%

Roger Cheng, Wall Street Journal

Qwest Communications International Inc. reported a 39% slide in fourth-quarter earnings as a result of severance costs and the continued deterioration of demand in its traditional phone services.

The Denver telecommunications company faces further decline in its so-called legacy business as more consumers drop their landline in favor of a wireless connection, or get their phone services from the cable companies.

Unlike its larger telecom-carrier peers, Qwest doesn't own its own wireless business to offset the losses. Instead, it looks to its burgeoning business services division, as well as its limited fiber-optic network upgrade project, for growth.

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Minority groups ask FCC to vote on 'dozens' of ownership proposals

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A collection of 23 minority-targeted organizations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to get off the stick and vote on some of the "dozens" of minority ownership proposals that have been put in front of it.

That came in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, with copies sent to key legislators and filed as comments in various open FCC dockets. They gave the chairman a shout-out, but had more than one bone to pick.

"From your eloquent letter of January 5, 2010 to Henry Rivera, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, we know that you share our concern for the fact that minority ownership and employment in our industries are de minimis and in many respects nearing extinction," they wrote.

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Don't let Comcast and NBC merge into media conglomerate

Capital Times

Comcast's proposed merger with NBC would produce a media behemoth that would control a significant portion of available channels and content.

The owners of Comcast and NBC Universal, two of the most powerful communications conglomerates in the United States, want to merge their corporations in a broadcast and cable behemoth that would dominate the discourse in the United States.

If they get their wish which executives of the corporations expressed to key House and Senate subcommittees on Thursday an already narrow and frequently dysfunctional debate in America would become narrower and more dysfunctional.

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Air America to go silent

Chris McGreal, The Guardian

First Massachusetts, now Air America.

One of the US's leading liberal radio networks, launched six years ago with the comedian Al Franken among its presenters to challenge the domination of Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives, has declared bankruptcy and will go off air on Monday.

Air America made a name for itself with Franken, until he left to win a seat in the Senate, who pulled in a sizeable part of its audience on 100 radio stations across the country. Other presenters included Ron Reagan, son of President Ronald Reagan.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey