Media Insider: CBS and Viacom to Merge, GateHouse Makes Newsroom Cuts, The Spectator Launches U.S. Print Version

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.A handshake with the NYC skyline behind it

CBS and Viacom to Reunite

CBS and Viacom will reunite, bringing together their networks and the Paramount movie studio. Viacom owns Paramount Pictures and pay TV channels such as Comedy Central, MTV, and BET, while CBS has a broadcast network, television stations, Showtime, and a stake in The CW. Analysts say the reunion will help both companies navigate an ever-competitive streaming landscape. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will become CEO of the combined company. Acting CBS CEO Joe Ianniello will become chairman and CEO of the CBS division. The deal is an all-stock transaction; CBS shareholders will own about 61 percent of the combined company and Viacom shareholders will own 39 percent. The companies say the combined company will have $28 billion in revenue. The reunion is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

What will this merger mean for the two companies? Vox breaks it down.

Layoffs Hit Several GateHouse Newsrooms

Last week, GateHouse and Gannett announced their intent to merge and form the largest newspaper chain in the country, a consolidation designed to save money. When the move was announced, there was a fear among many in the industry that layoffs would follow. GateHouse started making cuts this week to at least four papers, but it’s unknown if these cuts have anything to do with the potential merger or are more tied to disappointing quarterly results at New Media, which owns GateHouse. These layoffs come less than three months after GateHouse laid off several dozen journalists at newspapers across the country. One of the newsrooms hardest hit by the cuts was the Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, which parted ways with 14 employees, including five in the newsroom.

The Gannett-GateHouse deal raises questions on what’s next for other newspaper chains.

The Spectator Is Launching a U.S. Print Version

The Spectator, the world’s oldest English-language magazine, is launching a U.S. monthly print version for the first time in its history this fall, after starting a U.S. digital presence last year. The publication has been published in the UK continuously since it launched 1828 as a weekly. The first issue of the monthly publication will debut in October 2019, with a glossy, high-end look and feel. The magazine will be primarily driven by subscriptions, with limited newsstand distribution to select locations. It also will sell advertising. Coverage will include politics and policy, but also lifestyle, arts, culture, food, and wine. The U.S. bureau will be based in Washington, D.C., and staff seven editors and writers, along with a stable of regular contributors and columnists.

On the flip side, Pacific Standard, an online investigative magazine, shut down abruptly last week.

Group Nine and iHeartMedia Partner for Podcasts

Group Nine Media and iHeartMedia have announced an exclusive slate of portfolio-wide, co-produced podcasts to join the iHeartPodcast Network. The new slate will include at least one podcast from each of Group Nine’s four brands — NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker, and Thrillist — as well as one from JASH, part of the media company’s LA-based Studios team. The partnership will kick off with two new original podcasts from NowThis and Thrillist set to launch this fall. All podcasts will be overseen by Mickey Meyer, president of Network, and Brett Kushner, VP of new initiatives at Group Nine, and will be executive-produced by Mangesh Hattikudur, head of development at the iHeartPodcast Network.

Also making a big push into podcasts: Spotify, whose new platform, Spotify for Podcasters, came out of beta and is available for all users.

To Increase Retention, The Financial Times Is Using Newsletter Polls

The Financial Times has started incorporating polls into its email newsletters to encourage readers to interact more regularly with its content — and ultimately increase subscriber retention. Early signs show it’s working. Since March, the publisher has run 27 polls in its most popular newsletter, FirstFT, a subscriber-only newsletter that has well over 100,000 followers, according to the publisher. So far, the FT has seen the polls drive the highest click-through rates of all other links, though it wouldn’t share specific numbers. The goal is to build up consumption with content in the newsletters, in turn improving open rates. In April, the FT crossed the 1 million paying subscribers threshold.

ICYMI: Publishers flirt with generating identity-based user consent.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at PR Newswire. An animal lover, she curates content for @PRNPets – that is, when she’s not busy cuddling with her 11-year-old blind Maltese, Toody.

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