Roundup: Banijay closes Beyond International deal, Geordie Greig, Twitter

Roundup: Banijay and Beyond International

Warner Bros. Discovery partners with VideoAmp, The Simpsons music editor passes, Meta, Apple

Business of Media

Banijay closes deal to buy Australia’s Beyond International

Production giant Banijay on Wednesday signed a Scheme Implementation Deed to acquire Beyond International Limited, the scripted and nonscripted production company behind such shows as Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, Hulu’s new dating series Back in the Groove, and the eight-part scripted series Troppo, co-produced with EQ Media, which screens on Freevee in the U.S and on ABC Australia.

Beyond has been publicly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange since 1987, but the deal will see the group become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Banijay and be withdrawn from the market, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Roxborough.

The agreement adds Beyond’s catalog of more than 8,000 hours of programming, including such titles as Highway Thru Hell, Heavy Rescue: 401, and Halifax: Retribution, to Banijay’s vast existing library of some 130,000 hours.

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Warner Bros. Discovery signs audience measurement pact with Nielsen rival VideoAmp

Warner Bros. Discovery has signed an audience measurement agreement with VideoAmp, a start-up rival to Nielsen.

The deal comes ahead of the 2023 Upfronts and has the Hollywood studio looking to better measure cross-screen campaigns as it gets set to combine its HBO Max and Discovery+ platforms, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing.

While still using Nielsen, Warner Bros. Discovery will embrace VideoAmp to better identify audiences for advertisers across linear, streaming video, digital and social media services through what it calls a “unified, cross-platform currency.”
“Traditional media measurement has not kept pace with how consumers are engaging with streaming and linear content. As a result, these audiences have been undercounted and current measures no longer accurately reflect their true advertising value,” Andrea Zapata, executive vp and head of ad sales, research, measures and insights at Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement.  

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Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, Fox Corp face stock price target cuts

Macquarie media tech analyst Tim Nollen has lowered his stock price targets for Walt Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount and Fox Corp., citing weak ad markets and elusive streaming profitability, reports The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing.

Nollen is the latest Wall Street watcher to weigh in as TV advertising budgets fall while marketers trim costs amid recessionary and inflation risks, and forecasts for revenue growth among U.S. media stocks are cut. The expert trimmed his price target for Disney to $110 from $120, while leaving the studio’s stock rating at “outperform.”

The media analyst sees Disney’s stock recovering if newly reinstalled CEO Bob Iger makes good on his profitability plan for Disney+ and the studio’s other streaming platforms. And those plans may involve Disney+ with ads as a new revenue stream.

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Geordie Greig appointed editor of the Independent

The former Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Independent, as the news outlet faces tough financial challenges and deals with a round of redundancies, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

Greig has been given the task of growing the Independent’s audience in the US after the company recently made about 30 staff redundant, including several of its UK political reporters.

A number of Independent staff, who believe the outlet should retain its left-leaning outlook, expressed surprise at the news that a former Daily Mail editor had been placed in charge. One individual described the staff reaction as “variously quaking/raging/mortified/unsurprised”.

Greig’s decision to join the Independent reunites him with Evgeny Lebedev, who continues to own a substantial stake in the news outlet. The pair first met in the late 2000s when Greig was editing the society magazine Tatler. The journalist helped to advise Lord Lebedev on the purchase of the Evening Standard, before himself being appointed editor of the London newspaper.

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Social Media

Twitter to relax ban on political ads

Twitter said on Tuesday that it would begin relaxing its longstanding ban on political ads, allowing advocacy groups and elected officials to resume promotions focused on specific causes, reports The New York Times’ Kate Conger.

Twitter, which was acquired by Elon Musk in October, had banned some forms of political advertising in 2019. At the time, the company argued that political influence should be earned rather than bought, with politicians gaining audiences by drumming up genuine interest in what they had to say instead of using money to amplify their messages.

Mr. Musk has said one of his goals in taking over Twitter was to loosen its rules about the kinds of content that would be allowed on the platform. The billionaire’s approach to content moderation has spooked major brands, some of which have paused their spending on Twitter to keep their ads from appearing alongside controversial tweets. That has caused Twitter’s revenue to fall significantly.

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Colleagues remember The Simpsons’ music editor Chris Ledesma, dead at 64

Chris Ledesma, who worked as music editor on every episode of the iconic animated series The Simpsons since its inception in 1989 until May 2022, has died. He was 64, reports ABC’s Mawunyo Gbogbo.

A recent episode of the program showed an animated version of Ledesma seated alongside Homer Simpson and family on their famous couch, holding a conductor’s baton with a title card reading “In loving memory of Chris Ledesma”.

Tributes have been flowing on social media, including from Simpsons writer Carolyn Omine, showrunners Matt Selman and Al Jean, and current music editor Jake Schaefer.

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Meta’s ad practices ruled illegal under E.U. law

Meta suffered a major defeat on Wednesday that could severely undercut its Facebook and Instagram advertising business after European Union regulators found it had illegally forced users to effectively accept personalised ads, reports The New York Times’ Adam Satariano from London.

The decision, including a fine of 390 million euros ($414 million), has the potential to require Meta to make costly changes to its advertising-based business in the European Union, one of its largest markets.

The ruling is one of the most consequential judgments since the 27-nation bloc, home to roughly 450 million people, enacted a landmark data-privacy law aimed at restricting the ability of Facebook and other companies from collecting information about users without their prior consent. The law took effect in 2018.

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French privacy watchdog fines Apple over personalised ads

France’s privacy watchdog CNIL on Wednesday said it had imposed an 8 million euro ($8.49 million) fine linked to ad personalisation in the iPhone maker’s App Store, citing shortcomings with regard to user consent, reports Reuters’ Tassilo Hummel.

“The advertising targeting settings available from the “Settings” icon of the iPhone were pre-checked by default”, the CNIL said in a statement, even though that was not strictly necessary for the device’s functioning.

It added that the case, which dates back to 2021, concerned an old version of the phone’s iOS operating software.

The lobby group which brought the case had argued that Apple under iOS 14 had failed to ask iPhone users clearly enough for their prior consent to allow installed mobile apps to gather a key identifier used for targeted ads.

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Top image, left is Banijay Group’s Marco Bassetti and right is Beyond International’s Mikael Borglund

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