Keach Hagey

Google Executive Gets Grilling on Capitol Hill

Lawmakers from both parties sharply criticized Google over its dominance in advertising at a Senate hearing that showcased the arguments likely to play out if the government moves to sue the tech giant for anticompetitive practices. The senators were particularly focused on Google’s dominant position at every step in the chain of technology that connects web publishers with advertisers, and on the ways Google has used the market power it wields through it

Behavioral Ad Targeting Not Paying Off for Publishers, Study Suggests

Behavioral advertising, which involves collecting data about readers’ online behavior and using it to serve them specially tailored ads, often through bits of code called cookies, has become the dominant force in digital advertising in recent years.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Puts Spotlight on Fringe Platforms and Their Partners

As mainstream social-media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit try to push racist commentary and hate speech off their platforms, those conversations are finding homes in other corners of the web. They are happening on Discord, a chat service for videogamers, and message boards such as 4chan. Gab was founded explicitly to be a haven for free commentary, no holds barred. Discord says its rules prohibit harassment, threatening messages and calls to violence, and it has shut down accounts over those issues. Grappling with such web speech is proving challenging.

Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data to Sell Advertisers

The tech industry has largely declared it is off limits to scan emails for information to sell to advertisers. Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine. Yahoo’s owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath’s presentations as well as current and former employees of the company. Oath said the practice extends to AOL Mail, which it also owns.

Justice Department Investigates TV Station Owners Over Advertising Sales

Apparently, the Justice Department is investigating whether television station owners violated antitrust law in ways that inflated local television advertising prices. The probe has examined whether Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media Co,  and other independent TV station owners coordinated efforts when their ad sales teams communicated with each other about their performance, potentially leading to higher rates for TV commercials. Companies like Sinclair and Tribune own dozens of local TV stations that carry programming from national broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

CBS and Viacom, After 12 Years Apart, Again Explore Deal to Recombine

The boards of CBS and Viacom have formed special committees to evaluate a potential merger, a deal that would reunite the two big pieces of the Redstone family’s media empire. Shari Redstone, vice chairman of both companies, is pushing for a merger. She, along with her 94 year-old father, Sumner Redstone, controls CBS and Viacom, with a roughly 80% controlling stake in each company through their holding company National Amusements. Shari Redstone believes both companies need greater scale to better compete against bigger rivals.

Jared Kushner Delivers Critique of CNN to Time Warner Executive

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, met with a senior Time Warner executive in recent weeks and expressed the administration’s deep concerns about CNN’s news coverage, apparently. In a meeting at the White House, Kushner complained to Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications at CNN’s parent Time Warner, about what Kushner feels is unfair coverage slanted against the president.

The Trump administration’s hostile posture toward the news media, especially CNN, has been evident in the president’s own statements and those of his press secretary and top aides. While the administration is battling a large swath of the media, the fight with CNN has special intrigue because its parent company has a massive piece of business awaiting government approval: a proposed $85.4 billion sale to AT&T. Kushner and Ginsberg, who have been friends for a decade and whose discussion covered a variety of issues including Israel and the economy, didn’t discuss the merger in their recent meeting, apparently.

President-elect Trump vs. AT&T: A Signal Test of How Business Will Fare in New Washington

AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson made an $85 billion wager in Oct that would turn the giant telephone company into one of the world’s biggest media companies by swallowing Time Warner. The same day, Donald Trump told supporters in Gettysburg (PA) he would block the deal if elected president. “It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said, calling the merger “an example of the power structure I am fighting.”

Few companies had more at stake in the presidential election than AT&T, which expected Hillary Clinton to be in the White House, said one former AT&T executive in Washington. Other businesses in a similar position are watching to see if the merger survives a still-undefined Trump administration. For the telecommunication industry, President-elect Trump could usher in an era of deregulation, a change from what many companies viewed as a strong-arm era under President Barack Obama. Yet President-elect Trump’s talk on the campaign trail about crushing the AT&T deal has left executives, lobbyists, bankers and others wondering what his view will be from the White House.

The Making of the AT&T-Time Warner Deal

Two months ago, AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson stopped by Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes’s offices in New York for a lunch of salmon, while musing about the increasing convergence of the media and telecommunications industries. During their lunch, Stephenson surprised Bewkes by suggesting that AT&T buy Time Warner, apparently. Bewkes said it wasn’t for sale, but at the right price he would consider an offer, apparently, signaling that a deal was possible.

Stephenson walked away with his mind swirling with the possibilities that Time Warner’s premium content—top brands such as HBO, CNN and Warner Bros.—could bring to the streaming video service he was trying to build. “If you were ever going to do something like this, this is the content you’d like to use as an anchor tenant,” he said. From that point forward, things proceeded at breakneck speed, culminating in the biggest deal of the year as AT&T announced it was buying Time Warner for $107.50 a share—a 36% premium to where its stock was trading before the news of a deal started to trickle out during the week of Oct 17.

NBC, Dish Talks Ease Tensions Over Ad-Skipping

Dish Network is in discussions with NBC over Dish's ad-skipping digital video recorder, say people familiar with the situation, the latest sign that a two-year-old standoff between Dish and major broadcasters is easing.

While the talks are under way, NBC has put its lawsuit against Dish on hold, the people say. NBC is one of three major networks still in litigation with Dish over several features on its "Hopper" digital video recorder, including one that makes it easier to automatically skip commercials.

In early March Dish settled a lawsuit over the same issue with Walt Disney's ABC as part of a broader deal in which Dish renewed its right to carry Disney-owned TV networks on its satellite TV service.

It's unclear whether NBC and Dish are anywhere near close to resolving their differences, but the mere fact that the talks are under way at all highlights how the ground may be shifting in the long-running battle between the broadcasters and Dish. The Supreme Court ruling on Aereo may become a factor, as some lawyers say the ruling could complicate Dish's legal case.