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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, 22 April

Ad agency leaders commit to #ChangeTheBrief training on sustainable practices on Earth Day

Several agencies will provide time for their staff to train on the #ChangeTheBrief Alliance online learning and community platform today to learn more about promoting sustainability.

Leaders from Mindshare, OMG UK, Mediabrands, M&C Saatchi, Adam&Eve, OLIVER, AMVBBDO and TBWA are part of the initiative to coincide with Earth Day today.

This ties in with Action 5 of the Advertising Association’s Ad Net Zero Initiative which calls for agencies and clients to harness the power of advertising to promote sustainable consumer choices and behaviours.

The theme for Earth Day this year is “invest in our planet” and so this training will allow agencies to invest in their people to achieve this by promoting sustainable values, lifestyles and include information from “purpose disruptors” on how to avoid greenwashing, becoming climate literate, and sustainable comms.

HBO and HBO Max add 3 million subscribers

HBO and HBO Max added 3 million subscribers in Q1 2022, AT&T reported Thursday.

The growth brings HBO and HBO Max’s combined global subscriptions to a total of 76.8 million.

The numbers, which come as rival Netflix lost subscribers for the first time in over a decade, show a 12.8m year-over-year increase in subscribers for the WarnerMedia-owned subscription services.

Netflix’s 222 million subscribers still dwarf HBO’s figures despite their recent growth.

Newsquest restructures Archant leadership team following takeover

Regional publisher Newsquest has announced five senior Archant directors, including the CEO, will leave the business, following its takeover.

These senior directors include Archant CEO, Lorna Willis, editor-in-chief, Jeremy Clifford, chief finance officer, Nick Steven-Jones, magazines managing director, Jonathan Cropley and product & platform director, Ryan Cousins.

This is part of a wide-ranging restructure affecting Archant’s regional operations.

Newsquest is the second largest regional publisher in the UK, and before its merger Archant was the fourth-biggest.

Netflix rolls out new category hub for TV streamers

Netflix has introduced a new category hub in their TV menu to better help users find their favourite genres of film and TV.

The feature lives on the left-side of the screen, where users will be shown a personalised list of their top 3 categories, as well as other calendar-specific curated collections, such as an Earth Day category.

The adjustment comes as Netflix is reeling for a poor quarter one performance and outlook for the rest of 2022.

Thursday, 21 April

Warner Bros. Discovery ‘decides to shut down CNN+’

Just three weeks after its debut, Warner Bros. Discovery is shutting down CNN+, CNN’s new streaming service, according to a report by The New York Times.

The decision comes following the merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery which closed 8 April.

The service will cease operations on 30 April.

Musk reveals $46.5bn plan to buy Twitter

Elon Musk has secured commitments to finance his potential takeover bid of Twitter, according to a new securities filing.

Though Musk has yet to determine whether he will make a tender offer to buy the social media company, he now has $46.5bn worth of funds to complete the deal.

Musk previously offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share, or around $43bn; in response, Twitter adopted a ‘poison pill’ strategy to defend against hostile takeover by offering other shareholders the opportunity to purchase additional shares should Musk acquire greater than 15% of the company’s outstanding stock.

UM promotes Morton to chief product officer

IPG Mediabrands media agency UM has announced the promotion of Adam Morton to chief product officer.

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Reporting to UK & Ireland CEO Rachel Forde, Morton’s remit is to demonstrate the success of UM UK’s planning, digital and data products through case studies and proof points.

He is also tasked with identifying where and how more efficient processes and automation can free up UK teams to spend more time on developing strategic client relationships.

Morton has spent more than 20 years with UM, most recently as managing partner, Client Services.

ITV announce details for Queen’s Platinum Jubilee coverage

Phillip Schofield and Julie Etchingham will host ‘The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebration’.

The live ITV broadcast will feature guests including Damian Lewis, Tom Cruise, Adjoa Andoh, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ant & Dec, Dame Joan Collins, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Maureen Lipman, Sir David Jason, Alan Titchmarsh, Dame Kelly Holmes, Moira Stuart, Sir Trevor McDonald, and more as they pay tribute to The Queen’s 70 years of service.

Dame Helen Mirren will take on the role of Queen Elizabeth I, whilst a cast of ‘Queen’s Players’ will be introduced by a character called ‘The Herald’ played by Omid Djalili.

The broadcast will occur live from the private grounds of Windsor Castle on Sunday 15 May on ITV and ITV Hub.

Obamas ‘won’t re-sign with Spotify’

Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions, will not sign a new podcast deal with Spotify, according to reports.

The company will instead seek a new distribution deal at a host of competitors.

It is unclear if Spotify’s recent scrutiny over misinformation related to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast factored into the decision; Barack Obama has publicly spoken out against disinformation recently.

RTL’s adtech unit inks European CTV deal

RTL Group’s adtech unit smartclip has partnered with 47 Samurai, a global monetisation agency for programmatic OTT content to market 47 Samurai’s portfolio throughout Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

47 Samurai’s catalogue includes channels such as Nosey, Dust, World Poker Tour, Wild Earth, and more.

The move diversifies smartclip’s CTV ad space in local and European-wide markets.

Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman sells entire Netflix stake

Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, has sold his entire stake in Netflix.

Pershing Square had bought $1.1bn of Netflix stock in January, and has sold at a significant loss of greater than $430m, constituting a 4% reduction in the hedge fund’s year-to-date returns.

We recently purchased more than 3.1m shares of @Netflix which makes us a top-20 holder. I have long admired Reed Hastings and the remarkable company he and his team have built. We are delighted that the market has presented us with this opportunity. https://t.co/BNx1EWUVGh

— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) January 26, 2022

In a letter to Pershing Square investors, Ackman stated: “In light of recent events, we have lost confidence in our ability to predict the company’s future prospects with a sufficient degree of certainty.”

Netflix shares fell 35.1% on Wednesday following their Q1 2022 earnings release.

Wednesday, 20 April

Latest Bridgerton series most-watched English language Netflix series ever

Series two of Bridgerton has become Netflix’s most popular English language series “of all time” with 627.11 million hours viewed, per latest figures.

The period drama series has been top of the UK and global top ten lists for the past four weeks and had 66.61 million hours viewed in the week beginning 11 April.

The first series occupies second place on Netflix’s Most Popular chart, the first time two series of the same show have taken the top two spots.

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Read more on Netflix here: Netflix mulls ads tier after first subscriber loss in a decade

Warner Bros. Discovery suspends all external marketing for CNN+, fires CNN CFO

The newly merged Warner Bros. Discovery has suspended all external marketing for CNN+ and laid off CNN CFO Brad Ferrer, according to a previous report from Axios.

Ferrer has been replaced by Neil Chugani, Discovery’s current CFO for streaming and international.

Omnicom posts 12% growth in Q1, Russia impact ‘not material’

Omnicom Group has reported 11.9% organic growth for the first quarter of 2022.

The owner of media-agency networks OMD, PHD and Hearts Science reported an operating profit of $353m on revenue of $3.41bn. 

The group reported 10.3% organic growth in the UK, compared to 10.6% in the US and 11.1% for Asia-Pacific.

The company warned that global economic challenges, including the impact of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation, would cause economic uncertainty and volatility.

Having announced a suspension of its operations in Russia due to economic sanctions in the US and Europe, Omnicom recorded pre-tax charges of $113.4m in Q1. 

“The impact of the Russia and Ukraine operations as of and for the quarter ended March 31, 2022 was not material to our consolidated revenue, operating profit, and financial position and is not expected to be material for the full year.” Omnicom added in a statement.

Tuesday, 19 April

CBS News hires BBC’s Roy for London bureau chief

BBC’s former head of foreign news Andrew Roy is joining CBS News as the American network’s vice president and London bureau chief.

Roy spent 34 years at BBC as a producer and news executive, the past eight of which have been spent heading BBC’s foreign news coverage across TV, radio, and online.

He will replace Andy Clarke, who left CBS News in February after clashing with executives over budget cuts.

Joe Kahn named The New York Times’ next executive editor

Joe Kahn, 57, has been named The New York Times’ next executive editor, the paper’s top newsroom job.

Currently NYT’s managing editor, Kahn joined the Times in 1998 after four years as China correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.

Kahn will succeed Dean Baquet, who is stepping down from the role after eight years and 18 Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the paper.

ITV’s Studio55 launches second round of applications

ITV’s Studio 55 ventures has opened a second round of applications from “future-facing” businesses after a successful first year.

The initiative backs new media and entertainment businesses aimed at “materially enhancing” ITV’s reach among 16- 34 year-olds in collaboration with strategy consultancy Founders Intelligence.

In the second round, 14 to 16 teams will receive £10,000 each when they join the studio alongside training and mentoring from ITV execs and Founders’ Intelligence, and access to ITV’s strategic assets and contacts.

From there, six to eight will have the opportunity to pitch for significant long-term investment to Dame Carolyn McCall, ITV CEO and UK entrepreneurs.

Successful finalists last year include Metavision, bringing brands like John Lewis & Partners into the Metaverse. Live Tech Games and Woo also received ITV’s backing.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ companies file for bankruptcy

Far-right US radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has filed three of his companies, including InfoWars, for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a legal decision that will force him to pay damages for defamation against the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

Jones was sued for claiming that the 2012 shooting, in which 20 elementary students and six staff members were killed, was a hoax.

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The plaintiffs charged that his statements led to the enrichment of his businesses and the harassment of the victims’ families.

The families rejected a $120,000 per plaintiff settlement offer in March.

The filing will allow Jones’ businesses to keep operating while their finances are restructured and suspends any further litigation claims.

Earlier this month, a new lawsuit filed against Jones accused him of illegally hiding around $18m in assets from InfoWars following the filing of the defamation lawsuits in 2018; a lawyer for Jones denied the accusation.

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Wavemaker retains £2m Department for Work and Pensions media planning account

Wavemaker has kept the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) planning business after a competitive pitch.

Previously the media agency had worked with the DWP for seven years and the new contract will last another four years.

Wavemaker’s brief will include leading annual planning on JobHelp and Universal Credit campaigns.

This comes as Wavemaker was added to the Crown Commercial Service’s four-year agency roster, Campaign Solutions 2 framework, to handle media planning and strategy in 2021.

Twitter adopts ‘poison pill’ defence against Musk takeover

In response to Elon Musk’s $43.39bn attempt to buy Twitter, the company announced on Friday it has taken a poison pill defence.

It means if Musk attempts to buy 15% or more of Twitter’s stock, the company will release more shares available for purchase by current shareholders, diluting Musk’s ownership stake and also driving the price of the stock down.

Musk, replying to a critic of Twitter’s position, continued to advocate for his bid to take the company private.

Board salary will be $0 if my bid succeeds, so that’s ~$3M/year saved right there

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 18, 2022

Music streamer Deezer to go public via SPAC deal

European music streaming company Deezer will go public by merging with “blank check” company I2PO.

The Spotify competitor previously attempted to go public in 2015 and is currently valued at $1.1bn.

In Q2 2021, Deezer held 2% of the global streaming music subscription market, but is more popular in France and Brazil where it occupies 29% and 17% of the  market share respectively.

Online Safety Bill returns to Parliament for second reading

New online safety legislation requiring social media platforms, search engines and other apps and websites to improve their protections for users will be debated in Parliament this week.

The revised bill would give Ofcom the power to fine tech companies failing to comply with the new laws with up to 10% of their global annual turnover.

Particular safeguards to protect children from harmful and illegal content like pornography have also been included.

In a video posted on Twitter by Culture Sec Nadine Dorries, the new bill will additionally make top big tech executives “personally accountable” so they could face criminal charges for breaching new rules.

This is a new, stronger Online Safety Bill that will go further than any other country has gone to protect people online. pic.twitter.com/9X2I1Pyfht

— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) April 19, 2022

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