Media Insider: Report Details Threats to Local Journalism, Salt Lake Tribune Moves to Weekly, ViacomCBS Forms Kids’ Content Division

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

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Cantwell Unveils Report on Threats to Local News Ahead of Tech CEO’s Senate Testimony

Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, released a report detailing the threats posed to local journalism by tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The report takes aim at “unfair market practices by some of the world’s largest technology companies” that have further undermined a sector that has struggled to transition to the digital age. Its authors, led by the veteran Washington lawmaker, call for Congress to give federal regulators greater authority to protect the local news industry. The report raises alarms about revenue losses of about 70% for local newspapers and 40% for local broadcasters over the past two decades, turning 200 counties across the country into “news deserts” with no newspapers covering them.

In more bad news for the tech giants, the Justice Department and 11 states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Oct. 20, and a similar action against Facebook is reportedly imminent.

Salt Lake Tribune to Stop Printing Daily After 149 Years

The Salt Lake Tribune will stop printing a daily newspaper at the end of the year after nearly 150 years and will move to a weekly print edition. The change won’t result in cuts to the newsroom staff of about 65 people, though some would be “redeployed,” the newspaper reported. Editors and reporters will continue to file breaking news online as it happens. The new publication will be delivered by mail and will showcase reporters’ best enterprise work and in-depth stories, as well as obituaries and expanded editorial content. Although the newsroom staff will remain intact, nearly 160 press operators, carriers and other employees will lose their jobs.

Like the Tribune, Utah’s Deseret News announced it will also move to a weekly print edition.

FCC Affirms Decision to Scrap Obama-Era Net Neutrality Rules

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to affirm its 2017 repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules. The move comes around one year after a federal appellate court largely upheld the repeal, but directed the agency to consider the impact of the repeal on three issues: whether it affects public safety, the Lifeline program (which subsidizes broadband), and regulations regarding utility poles. The agency stated this week that it “found no basis” to change its 2017 decision, adding that the repeal “promotes public safety, facilitates broadband infrastructure deployment by internet service providers, and allows the FCC to continue to provide Lifeline support for broadband internet access service.”

In other government news, the Trump administration has scrapped a federal regulation designed to protect the editorial independence of U.S.-funded media outlets.

ViacomCBS Forms Kids’ Content Division Led By Nickleodeon’s Hahn

ViacomCBS International Studios (VIS) is launching a kids’ content division to be headed by Nickelodeon executive Nina Hahn. VIS Kids is designed to expand the studio’s global pipeline of kids’ content and broaden its offerings to include short- and long-form content to be produced and sold to third parties, in addition to ViacomCBS brands and platforms. Hahn, based in London, will also continue in her role as senior vice president of production and development at Nickelodeon International. With VIS Kids, Hahn will focus on growing the division’s content pipeline, expanding its global footprint, and leading sourcing and development of originals within animated, live-action and preschool genres by working with the studio’s production and development teams in the UK, Latin America, Spain and Israel.

Disney Plus is turning its subscribers into brand ambassadors by letting them share content on social media and messaging apps.

Canada’s Newspaper Publishers Call for a New Regulatory Regime to Safeguard Trusted Journalism

News Media Canada, an organization representing the country’s newspapers, launched a campaign this week urging the federal government to bring a new regulatory regime to halt what it calls “monopolistic” practices by Google and Facebook. The publishers say the internet giants have used their market dominance to an unfair advantage to control 80 percent of digital ad revenues while not providing “fair” compensation for news content. The remedy, according to News Media Canada, lies in regulatory changes like those proposed in Australia earlier this year. They would expand the intellectual property rights publishers have over their content, and require Google and Facebook to negotiate with Canadian media outlets on a deal to pay for that content. If no deal could be reached, it would go to arbitration. Canadian publishers estimate it could mean $620 million in additional yearly revenues.

ICYMI: City Pages is closing, ending the era of alternative weeklies in Twin Cities.

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Maria Perez is Director, Web Experience & Operations at Cision. In her spare time, she runs Bags of Love Foundation, a local nonprofit that provides cancer patients with care packages aimed at making their treatment more comfortable. She also enjoys kickboxing, baking, and cuddling with her dog Toody, who thinks he rules the world.

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