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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Daughters Hospital Stay Leads to Family Decision for Sanorum to Withdraw Before His Home State Primary

Surrounded by members of his family, Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum announces he will be suspending his campaign during a press conference at the Gettysburg Hotel on April 10, 2012 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Santorum's three-year-old daughter, Bella, became ill over the Easter holiday and poll numbers showed he was losing to Mitt Romney in his home state of Pennsylvania. / Jeff Swensen/Getty Images


GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Bowing to the inevitable after an improbably resilient run for the White House, Rick Santorum quit the presidential race on Tuesday, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to claim the Republican nomination.

“We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” he said.

Santorum, appearing with his family, told supporters that the battle to defeat President Barack Obama would go on but pointedly made no mention or endorsement of Romney, whom he had derided as an unworthy standard-bearer for the GOP.

The former Pennsylvania senator stressed that he’d taken his presidential bid farther than anyone expected, calling his campaign “as improbable as any race that you will ever see for president.”
“Against all odds,” he said, “we won 11 states, millions of voters, millions of votes.”

Santorum signaled his intent to maintain a voice in the campaign to come, saying: “This game is a long, long, long way from over. We will continue to go out and fight and defeat President Barack Obama.”

Santorum spoke with Romney before the announcement, a Republican source close to the campaign said, and Romney asked to meet him sometime in the future.

The delegate totals told the tale of Santorum’s demise. Romney has more than twice as many delegates as Santorum and is on pace to reach the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by early June. Still in the race, but not considered a factor: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

Santorum had hoped to keep his campaign going through the Pennsylvania primary on April 24, but decided to fold after his severely ill 3-year-old daughter, Bella, spent the weekend in the hospital.
Santorum, a feisty campaigner who took everyone by surprise with his win in Iowa’s leadoff caucuses, ran on his conservative credentials and his experience in Congress — he was a House member for four years and senator for 12 — but was hobbled by a lack of money and organization.

He said that while Romney was accumulating more delegates, “we were winning in a very different way. We were touching hearts” with a conservative message.

In a statement, Romney called Santorum “an able and worthy competitor” and congratulated him on his campaign.

“He has proven himself to be an important voice in our party and in the nation,” Romney said. “We both recognize that what is most important is putting the failures of the last three years behind us and setting America back on the path to prosperity.”

With Romney on his way to the nomination and a contest against the president, Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, sharply criticized Romney for waging a negative ad campaign against his opponents.

“It’s no surprise that Mitt Romney finally was able to grind down his opponents under an avalanche of negative ads. But neither he nor his special interest allies will be able to buy the presidency with their negative attacks,” Messina said. “The more the American people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him and the less they trust him.”

Santorum said the campaign had been “a love affair for me, going from state to state. ... We were raising issues, frankly, that a lot of people did not want raised.”
He spoke almost nostalgically of the race, and of his trademark sweater vest, a pointed visual contrast to his suited rivals.

“Over and over again we were told, ‘Forget it. You can’t win,’” he said.

Eventually, the improbable had to bow to reality: Santorum would have needed 80 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination before the party’s national convention in Florida in August. And that couldn’t happen as long as Romney was in the race because most upcoming primaries use some type of proportional system to award delegates, making it hard to win large numbers of delegates in individual states.

In most states, Santorum’s delegates can now support any candidate they choose.

Gingrich, who has been splitting the votes of those who questioned Romney’s conservative credentials with Santorum, made an immediate play for his supporters.

He said the former senator’s campaign was “a testament to his tenacity and the power of conservative principles.

“I am committed to staying in this race all the way to Tampa so that the conservative movement has a real choice. I humbly ask Senator Santorum’s supporters to visit Newt.org to review my conservative record and join us as we bring these values to Tampa.”

Paul also congratulated Santorum for “running such a spirited campaign” and called himself “the last — and real — conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.”

Suspending the campaign allows Santorum to keep paying off nearly $1 million in debt, according to recent Federal Election Commission filings. Those debts include about $500,000 for media consulting and tens of thousands more for telemarking and online advertising, records show.

Other presidential candidates have eventually extinguished their debt and terminated their campaigns. Former Minnesota Gov. Tom Pawlenty officially shuttered his campaign committee on Tuesday, owing as much as a half a million dollars last fall but slowly whittling that figure down.

PBS faces major funding cuts. Spanish TV excempt? Are Trailers even trailers anymore? Bloomberg cries fowl against Comcast-NBC-Universal. Starz launches into expensive first run programming season.



FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
 Photo: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.


All of this post, all items, are from the LA Times Company Town blog. (click here)

Spend on Spanish TV and you do no have to worry about pesky Campaign Spending Rules. Although Hispanic voters will play a big part in the 2012 election, Spanish-language stations have been left out of a proposed rule from the Federal Communications Commission requiring big city television stations to put detailed information online about what candidates are spending on the upcoming presidential race.

Later this month the FCC will vote on whether television stations should be required to publish  information online about how much politicians are spending on TV advertising. Such information is already available to the public, but anyone wanting to see it must visit a TV station and make a formal request. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has called making political advertising information readily available a common-sense update to what is already the law of the land.
Initially though, only stations that are affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in top-50 markets will be required to put political spending information on the Web. The rule tweak, which is expected to pass, would go into effect by late summer or early fall at the latest, still in time for the 2012 general election.
Other stations in smaller markets around the country would have up to two years to do so after the rule change goes into effect.

Media watchdogs are concerned that the rule change leaves out Univision and Telemundo stations as well as other Spanish-language outlets. Lots of money is expected to be spent on the Hispanic vote for the 2012 contest in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas with large Spanish-speaking populations.

"This really needs to be fixed," said Corie Wright, an attorney with Free Press, a nonprofit media watchdog group. "If you are drawing a line at the top markets, you want to include the stations that are reaching a large number of households in those markets." Wright added that it is unfair of the FCC not to give Spanish voters the same access to political advertising information that it is providing to the rest of the electorate.

The Skinny: I heard a splash while watching "Mad Men." I hope it wasn't a shark jumping. Tuesday's headlines include a look at how movie trailers have evolved in the digital age, ratings from some new high-profile cable shows including Lifetime's "The Client List" and Starz's "Magic City," and Sony forecasting a big loss.


Lifetime's The Client List may do repeat business
Photo: Lifetime's "The Client List." Credit: Michael Desmond / Lifetime

Ratings roundup. Several high-profile cable shows premiered in the last few days, including Starz's new drama "Magic City" and Lifetime's "The Client List." While "The Client List," about a woman who goes to work in a massage parlor to make ends meet, had a decent opening and may get some repeat customers, "Magic City" was a little slower out of the gate. Details from the Hollywood Reporter.

Daily Dose: Time Warner, which has already made a play for Dutch television production giant Endemol, is not giving up. While Endemol is wrapping up its financial restructuring and has shaken up its executive suite, Time Warner insiders think the money men that will end up in control will want a quick buck and are eager to deal.

Tough week. On Monday, word emerged that Sony will cut its staff by as many as 10,000. Now the company also gave warning of a $6.4-billion loss when it releases its annual results next month. More from Reuters.


Trailers for Trailers for Trailers....
It started in December with Ridley Scott's "Prometheus." It continued this winter with "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2" and "Total Recall." Now it's being used for "Looper," an original science fiction film starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt that, unlike the prior three films, doesn't come with a well-known brand name.

It's the "trailer for the trailer" phenomenom. Or when the trailer in question is a one-minute "teaser" trailer, a "teaser for a teaser."

At a time when trailers are watched more online than in theaters and the one- to three-minute clips are endlessly scrutinized and can be watched tens of millions of times if they go viral, studios will do whatever they can to draw attention. The latest trick is to use short clips that hype the pending debut of a trailer in order to generate attention and turn the trailer debut into a major event, not unlike the day when a movie itself actually hits theaters.

The "trailer for a trailer" tool -- is it a gimmick? Is it a fad? -- is the latest evidence that trailers have become much more important to Hollywood in the digital age. For more on the rapidly changing business of making and selilng trailers, see the story in today's Times.

Top trailers of 2012: 1. “The Avengers,” 126.1 million views; 2. “The Hunger Games,” 84.4 million; 3. “The Dark Knight Rises,” 68 million; 4. “The Hobbit: Part 1,” 57 million; 5. “Chronicle,” 51.7 million; 6. “The Amazing Spider-Man,” 50.2 million; 7. “Prometheus,” 45.9 million; 8. “Battleship,” 44.2 million; 9. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2,” 39.8 million; 10. “John Carter,” 39.6 million.



Bloomberg takes aim on Comcast. Bloomberg LP has filed another complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Comcast Corp., claiming that the cable giant is thumbing its nose at conditions the government put on it as part of approving its 2011 takeover of NBCUniversal.

At issue is where Bloomberg's business news channel is located on Comcast-owned cable systems in relation to Comcast's own channels CNBC and MSNBC. Bloomberg has claimed that a condition of the merger requires Comcast to move Bloomberg to the same "neighborhood" as its own CNBC and MSNBC channels.

"We need a passport to get to the news neighborhood from where we are now," cracked Greg Babyak, head of government Affairs for Bloomberg LP.

Comcast has countered that the FCC's conditions only apply if Comcast were to start placing similar channels next to each other on the dial, a practice known as "neighborhooding."

In its latest FCC filing, Bloomberg claimed Comcast has done just that. It cited two markets -- Crescent City, Fla., and Claxton, Ga. -- where Comcast created a neighborhood of news channels but left out Bloomberg Television.

"Comcast is favoring its own programming content and discriminating against competitors," Bloomberg attorneys told the FCC.

A spokeswoman for Comcast denied that the company has created any new news neighborhoods since the NBCUniversal transaction closed last year.

Bloomberg filed its first FCC complaint against Comcast last June, and the length of time it has taken the regulatory to respond is also becoming a sore spot. On a Tuesday conference call hosted by Bloomberg, Gigi Sohn, chief executive of non-profit advocacy group Public Knowledge and a supporter of Bloomberg's cause, ripped the agency for dragging its feet.

Sohn said it is "ridiculous" that the agency has yet to act on Bloomberg's first complaint. "It's time to do the hard work and actually enforce those conditions," she said, adding that the FCC's inaction is going to discourage others from coming forward to report possible abuses by companies such as Comcast.

In a statement, Comcast called Bloomberg's latest complaint "desperate."

"If Comcast is forced to do what Bloomberg wants the FCC to mandate, beyond the requirements of the FCC Order, millions of customers will be subject to disruption and confusion required by massive channel realignments across the country, all to benefit an already thriving, $30-billion media company. It is hard to imagine a more anti-consumer result that would be less in the public interest," Comcast said.

David Bergstein
Troubled film financier David Bergstein has sued the owners of Miramax, alleging that they denied him money and an equity stake owed for his role in the acquisition of the film label from Walt Disney Co. in 2010, a law firm retained by Bergstein said Monday.

The suit, filed by Weingarten Brown (read a copy here), claims that Bergstein -- who has been involved in dozens of lawsuits, many related to his activities in the film business -- played a crucial role in the deal to acquire Miramax. It asserts that Santa Monica private equity firm Colony Capital, one of Miramax's new owners, and its principal Richard Nanula conspired to deny Bergstein a $6.1-million fee and 3.3% stake they agreed to provide him as part of the purchase.

"Defendants have lined their own pockets to the tune of tens of millions of dollars while reneging on the compensation promised to the individual who made the highly lucrative deal happen for them," the lawsuit alleges.

Bergstein sues over Miramax acquisitionColony and Nanula are named as defendants, as is Filmyard Holdings, the holding company that acquired Miramax in December 2010 for $660 million. The Qatari government's Qatar Holdings and Ron Tutor -- the chief executive of construction firm Tutor-Perini Corp. and a longtime associate of Bergstein -- also have stakes in Filmyard.

It was not clear exactly what role Bergstein played in the acquisition, except that he was working with Tutor before Colony joined the acquisition team in July 2010. In the suit, Bergstein says he initiated talks with Disney, which had already put Miramax up for sale, and negotiated the structure of the deal.
He claims that for his work, he was promised two separate $6.1-million fees, one at closing and another when certain conditions were met, plus a 5% equity stake in Filmyard. At the urging of Tutor and Colony chief Tom Barrack, the complaint says, Bergstein later agreed to reduce his stake to 3.33%.
Colony declined to provide Bergstein with any documentation as part of his stake or a share of profits when the company was recapitalized last fall, the complaint alleges. In addition, Bergstein says he was not paid his second $6.1-million fee when conditions were met, though he did receive the first payment.

Bergstein claims he was cut out because he has been the subject of negative press coverage related to his legal troubles from a string of troubled companies and business deals in which he has been involved. The financier's controversial past would have put off Qatar Holdings and a lender, the complaint says.

"Unable to alienate their lender and principal investor on the one hand and unable to make the deal work without Bergstein's efforts -- Defendants chose instead to merely lie to their lenders and investors and to Bergstein until they no longer needed him," the complaint states.
At a summer 2011 meeting, the document claims, "Nanula threatened Bergstein that if he continued to pursue his documented rights, Nanula would ensure Bergstein would 'never see a penny.'"

A spokeswoman for Miramax and Colony said her clients have not yet been served with the complaint and could not comment.] Reached by phone, Tutor said he was unaware of the lawsuit. "I don't know who owes what," he said. "I know there were machinations."

The lawsuit asks for at least $6.1 million plus the value of Bergstein's 3.33% interest. It comes three weeks after Miramax's then-chief executive, Mike Lang, unexpectedly departed after clashes with the company's board and staff. Although Lang is not named in the lawsuit, Bergstein's complaint asserts that Lang was fired.


Belt-tightening time. The National Endowment for the Arts is cutting back on its support of the Public Broadcasting System. According to the New York Times, the NEA will trim its funding of PBS by more than $1 million. PBS programs that will feel in the pinch include "Great Performances" and "American Masters." It is a time when public broadcasting is suffering from cuts made during the recession, programming competition and even canalizing over the Internet, being a the center of polarization in Washington D.C. and a graying audience.

Follow the Internet. We end today's Morning Fix with this story about legendary journalist Bob Woodard's interactions with a bunch of Yale students examining how the Watergate scandal would be reported in the digital age. Someone needs to tell those Ivy Leaguers that just googling "follow the money" would not be enough to bring a president down. A scary read from Tech President.

Do I get a free drink if I watch? Airline Virgin America is launching its own entertainment channel and has struck content deals with Funny or Die and Ben Stiller's Red Hour Digital. Details from Variety.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: James Van Der Beek pokes fun at himself in a new ABC sitcom.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. We'll figure out this world together. Twitter.com/JBFlint




All of this post, all items, are from the LA Times Company Town blog. (click here)

Missing Opening Day...Dodger Ball's Vince Scully...

Dodgers broadcaster Vince Scully is missing the opening home game for the first time in his career. Officially he is laid up a home with a cold.

MPAA's former tech officer now argues against SOPA, PIPA



PIPA protesters SOPA
From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news).

The MPAA's former chief technology policy officer is speaking out against anti-piracy bills that were a top priority for his former employer. Paul Brigner, who resigned from his job last month as senior vice president for the MPAA, said he has changed his tune on the much-maligned Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protection Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).
"I firmly believe that we should not be legislating technological mandates to protect copyright -- including SOPA and Protect IP,'' Brigner said in a statement posted on CNET.
The bills, which were intended to crack down on foreign websites trafficking in pirated goods, sparked a massive online protest from Wikipedia, Google and other tech giants, which argued that the bills would lead to censorship online and force some websites out of business. The protest effectively derailed the bills, dealing a blow to the MPAA, which had lobbied heavily in favor of the measures.
But Brigner told CNET that his year-long experience at the MPAA caused him to change his views on the anti-piracy bills, concluding that they would not work.
"Did my position on this issue evolve over the last 12 months? I'm not ashamed to admit that it certainly did," Brigner posted on the technology website. "The more I became educated on the realities of these issues, the more I came to the realization that a mandated technical solution just isn't mutually compatible with the health of the Internet."
A spokesman for the MPAA, which lobbies on behalf of the major Hollywood studios, declined to comment on Brigner's statement.
The MPAA's Chief Executive Chris Dodd, the former senator from Connecticut, has not abandoned the issue entirely. He has had conversations with representatives of the tech industry about ways to fight online piracy, such as working with internet service providers to send out alerts to consumers to deter online copyright infringement. It's unlikely any new bills would introduced until after the presidential election.
[For the record: an earlier version of this post incorrectly quoted a statement attributed to Brigner. The post has been updated.]
RELATED:
The Internet flexes its muscles with blackout
Bloggers in China sound off on SOPA blackout
Blackout: Sites gone dark to protest anti-piracy bills
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Protesters in New York recently demonstrate against the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act proposals. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images