Monday, September 26, 2011

Message from Michael - News Corp - Debt Crisis - July 26, 2011





RULE NEWS CORP, NEWS CORP RULES THE AIR WAVES:  It doesn’t have quite the ring of the British anthem, but it’s possibly more appropriate.  Rupert Murdoch may be losing his influence in the United Kingdom, but his News Corporation is actually expanding in another part of the former British Empire – India.  And not just there, but throughout the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions.  In India, the expansion is through the introduction of more Fox International and National Geographic Channels.  In the Middle East, Sky News is adding Sky News Arabia and two new Farsi language channels.  The ventures are part of News Corp’s various partnerships, including the Afghanistan-based (Yes, you read right – Afghanistan) media company, The Moby Group, and the Saudi-based media company, Rotana Media, whose principal shareholder is News Corp’s second largest shareholder, Prince Alaweed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud.  According to the Fox International Channels website, the company has 183 ‘wholly and majority owned’ channels broadcasting in 36 languages around the world.  The other part that makes News Corp the world’s second largest media conglomerate (behind the Walt Disney Company) is Sky News, which, its website says, is “valued for its fairness, balance and journalistic objectivity by both viewers and regulators.”  It is based in the U.K. but with operations in many parts of Europe and Asia.  Add to that, Star News, which is focused on India.  Finally, it has nothing to do with the Murdoch empire reach, but I can’t help being a little tabloidish and note that, in addition to all that, Murdoch has four homes worldwide – Los Angeles, New York, London and Melbourne, Australia.  

THE CROWN JEWEL OF THE MEDIA EMPIRE.  Once the Crown Jewel of the British Empire (hey, I’m on a theme here), India is fast becoming one of the crown jewels of every company’s media empire.  The U.S. is still the world’s media leader, but just as China is challenging America economically, India is challenging America in terms of media groups.  In addition to the News Corp investments, several other major groups are making investments in the sub-continent, with its own local media groups expanding rapidly.  It is the world’s second largest newspaper market, and the fourth largest in terms of broadcast stations with 1,400 stations, just behind the U.S. at (2,218), according to Wikipedia and The World Factbook.  Russia is the largest (7,308) followed by China (3,240).  Add to that the fact that India is expected to overtake China in population by 2030, and that its middle class is expanding rapidly.  This thought process about India was triggered by the fact that just about every other edition of the newsletters from the global media reporting website RapidTVNews had something about India in it.  The Fox International expansion with Dish TV in India.  A 13.2% increase in broadcast revenues.  Corporate restructuring of its Network18.  The merger of four cable MSO’s into one major cable TV network.  Discovery adding four new channels in India.  Hollywood film channel Movies Now expanding into India.  Satellite Growth.  Cable Growth.  Internet Growth.  And, on a personal note, having worked in India, I can attest to the fact that the Indian media market is, to put it mildly, “robust.”

A MACY’S VERSUS GIMBEL’S SHOUT-OUT.  For those interested, the website and newsletter, RapidTVNews, provides a much more global look at media developments.  I have no idea how I ended up being a subscriber.  A lot of newsletters end up in my email box, sometimes for reasons unknown. But it is interesting. Where else would I hear about Arabsat, Nilesat and Eutelsat which, by the way, is being jammed by Iranian broadcasting, trying to block the BBC’s Persian channel. Thanks to RapidTVNews, I now know that Al Jazeera is now available in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and which television groups are carrying the Olympics in France and South Korea.  Okay, not exactly exciting stuff to an American audience, but interesting still. For example, I had no idea that so many countries were still making the transition to digital broadcasting from analog, or as they spell it, analogue.  If you can stand one more mention of India, its government have ordered the four major Metros to switch to digital by March of next year which is expected to further expand that growing market.  Japan just completed the transition with the country’s broadcasters making the final switch Sunday.  A small number of households in the prefectures where the earthquake and tsunami hit are still using analogue temporarily.   Austria has just switched over the last 24 transmitters to digital.   The U.S. made the switch in June, 2009.  By 2016, 33 countries will be fully digital compared with only one (Finland) at the end of 2010, according to a RapidTVNews article quoting Digital TV Research.  Based on its survey of 73 countries, digital penetration will have reached 80% by 2016 compared to the 42.5% now.  (And, okay, I’m not the Macy’s of newsletters, although they may be the Gimbel’s.)

DEBT CRISIS AND MEDIA CRISIS.  Having watched all the news stories about the political machinations going on inside the Beltway, did you know that Washington's spending has recently been higher as a percentage of the nation's economic output than at any time since World War II? But by the same measure, Washington's revenues are the lowest in more than 60 years.  No?  Neither did I.  Those figures come from the non-partisan website, which is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  After watching the debate AND the coverage with some dismay, I thought I would share those points with you.  IMHO, every journalist should subscribe to the site.  Here are some other factoids from the website to end this newsletter on: 

*  Federal spending ("outlays" in budget jargon) is expected to equal 24.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The figure was 25 percent in fiscal year 2009, highest since 1945.
*  On the other hand, federal revenues are expected to drop to 14.8 percent of GDP this year, lower even than the 14.9 percent attained in both 2009 and 2010. There has been only one year since World War II when revenues have been as low as in any of these years: 1950, when the figure was 14.4 percent.
*  These historically high rates of spending and low rates of taxation have combined to produce a chain of deficits that are also the highest since WWII. The deficit was 10.0 percent of GDP in fiscal 2009. It declined to 8.9 percent last year as the economy started to recover, but is projected to go up to over 9 percent this year. Each of these deficits is larger than in any year since 1945, measured as a percentage of GDP.
*  The U.S. is borrowing about 36 cents of every dollar spent so far this year. It borrowed 37 cents on the dollar last year, and 40 cents in fiscal 2009.
*  The largest components of federal spending are Social Security and Medicare programs for the elderly (33.5 percent of total outlays in 2010) and national defense (20.1 percent). Interest payments on the federal debt alone accounted for 5.7 percent of all federal spending, and that percentage is rising.
*  The federal income tax accounted for 41.5 percent of federal receipts in 2010 (down from 49.6 percent prior to the Bush tax cuts of 2001 – 2003). Corporate taxes brought in only 8.9 percent, also down sharply since the recent recession. Payroll taxes and other "social insurance" payments accounted for 40 percent of total receipts in 2010.

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1 comment:


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