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Friday, April 27, 2012

Rupert Murdoch again apologizes for tabloids' phone hacking. Majors increase HULU state. AMC to make movies while pulling back from IPO. The death of he DVD has been greatly exagerated.

Rupert Murdoch leaves a hearing
 Photo: Rupert Murdoch: Credit: Justin Tallis / AFP Getty Images

The Rupert Murdoch apology tour continued Thursday with the News Corp. chief executive again telling British lawmakers that he was sorry about the phone-hacking scandal at the media giant's tabloids.

“I failed. And I’m very sorry about that,” the 81-year-old media mogul told a British judicial inquiry on media ethics inaugurated after revelations of phone hacking by the now-closed News of the World. “It’s going to be a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life,” Murdoch said.

While acknowledging that as head of the company the buck stops with him, Murdoch also continued to deflect blame for the fiasco which sparked three separate criminal investigations, the firing of top executives and dozens of arrests.

Murdoch, whose son James had oversight of the tabloids during much of the wrongdoing, said staffers at the paper had kept him out of the loop. James Murdoch has made similar claims.

“There’s no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that -- someone took charge of a cover-up -- which we were victim to and I regret,” Murdoch said.

For more on Murdoch's testimony, please see our story in World Now.

Redbox kiosk
Photo: Anja Murphy returns videos to a Redbox kiosk in an Albertsons supermarket in Santa Monica. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Apparently nobody told Redbox's customers that the DVD is dead. First-quarter revenue for the movie-rental company surged 39% to $502.9 million, and its operating income increased 222% to $76.4 million, Redbox's parent company Coinstar Inc. said in financial results released Thursday.

Coinstar said April 12 that its first-quarter performance would be better than projected thanks in large part to growth at Redbox, but it didn't specify just how well the subsidiary, which operates 36,800 DVD kiosks, would do. (The kiosks also carry Blu-ray discs and video games.)
Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar
 Photo: Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar at the company's Santa Monica headquarters in July 2010.  Credit:  Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Big studios increase stake and interests in Hulu. Providence Equity Partners is selling its stake in online video service Hulu for about $200 million, according to people familiar with the situation.
The move, first reported by Bloomberg News, is expected to give at least two of Hulu's media company owners -- News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. -- a greater ownership stake in the rapidly growing online service.
The 5-year-old service now has more than 2 million paid subscribers to its Hulu Plus offering, and about 38 million visitors a month to its free site, which offers catch-up episodes of such popular television shows as "Glee," "Revenge," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
The buy-out of the private equity firm would resolve some of the tensions that have been simmering for more a year. The stakeholders have long argued about Hulu's direction, priorities and monetization strategy.  Nine months ago, the partners considered selling Hulu, but the media companies opted not to shed the venture because they did not want to lose control of the online distribution of their valuable content.

The improved performance comes after a price increase in late 2011 to $1.20 per night from $1 per night for DVDs. Coinstar previously said that customers reacted less negatively to the price increase than anticipated and that demand was particularly high for titles such as "Moneyball," "Puss In Boots," "50/50," "In Time," "Abduction" and "Mr. Popper's Penguins."

More in the LA Times (click here). 

 Photo: Moviegoers gather at an AMC theater in Burbank on a Friday night. Photo credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Los Angeles Times. 

AMC Theaters to make and market films, while pulling back from planned IPO's. AMC Entertainment, the nation's second-largest exhibitor, has once again scrapped plans for a stock offering, two people familiar with the matter said.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based theater chain had said in a regulatory filing last spring that it planned to raise up to $450 million in an initial public offering of stock, using the proceeds to pay down debt. Top shareholders in AMC include JPMorgan, Apollo Investment Fund and Bain Capital Investors.

But at the prompting of AMC's owners, the circuit has opted to shelve the IPO, out of concern that market conditions aren't ripe for a stock offering, said two sources familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

"It's a tough business,'' said one of the sources, citing the long-term challenges faced by the exhibition industry, especially from the threat posed by shrinking theatrical windows -- the period between when a movie is released in theaters and when it can be viewed in the home. "The biggest issue they are facing is how to navigate the collapsing of theatrical windows."

Industry-wide, the number of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada fell 4% last year to 1.28 billion, the lowest level since the mid-1990s. But revenue has rebounded this year, jumping 23% in the first quarter.

This marks the third time in five years that AMC has pulled back from going public. The company originally filed for a $750-million IPO in December 2006 as private equity firms looked to recoup some of their heavy investments in the theater operator. But AMC withdrew that offering in May 2007 after investors balked at the $17-a-share asking price.  AMC then unveiled plans for a scaled-back stock offering in September 2007 but withdrew that plan a year later amid market volatility.

Along with rival Regal Entertainment, AMC last year launched a joint venture called Open Road Films that will acquire and release independent movies.

The results demonstrate that despite the ongoing decline in DVD sales and the closure of many DVD-rental stores, including thousands of Blockbuster locations, people still want to watch movies on discs. They just prefer to pay a low fee per night to rent DVDs at convenient locations such as grocery stores and drugstores, where Redbox kiosks are located.

More in the LA Times (click here).

1 comment:

A Carlos Com 101-4049 said...

I am a very faithful Redbox fan, I can't imagine ever stepping foot inside a Blockbuster ever again. That being said, there are plenty of sites that allow you to purchase everything online and view onine making it even easier, since there are no DVD's to return, thus no late fees. I'm sure it will only be a little while before Redbox too, goes under due to online transactions.