Media Insider: News orgs reject paying for Twitter checkmark, Financial Times buys Endpoints News

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

News organizations reject Elon Musk’s demand of paying to keep checkmarks on Twitter
CNN | Oliver Darcy

News organizations have a message for Elon Musk: We are not going to pay you for checkmarks on Twitter. The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, and Vox all scoffed at the notion that they would pay Twitter for the feature, which has been free since it was introduced years ago but will soon be phased out. CNN said it has no intention of paying for Twitter’s subscription service for its accounts but would make a few exceptions for some key staff. Historically, a blue checkmark placed next to the name of an account has indicated that the social media company has confirmed the identity of the person or business operating it. Earlier this year, Musk launched Twitter Blue, a subscription service that costs $8 a month and includes the blue checkmark.

T2, a new Twitter alternative that features verification, is hoping to lure some of those news organizations to its platform.

Senate bill seeks to break up Google and Meta ad business
Engadget | Jon Fingas

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced the AMERICA Act (Advertising Middlemen Endangering Rigorous Internet Competition Accountability) with the intention of breaking up the ad businesses of tech giants like Google and Meta. Large digital ad firms (those handling more than $20 billion in transactions) wouldn’t be allowed to own both an ad exchange and either a demand- or supply-side platform. A supply-side platform owner couldn’t own a demand-side system (and vice versa), while those buying and selling ads couldn’t own either of the other platforms except to sell their own ad stock. The bill is sponsored by a seemingly unlikely mix of senators that includes Mike Lee, Amy Klobuchar, Ted Cruz, and Elizabeth Warren, among others. They aren’t subtle about the ultimate goal: they expect Google and Meta to divest “significant portions” of their ad businesses to comply with the would-be law. Amazon and Apple might also have to take the AMERICA Act into account, the politicians say.

Klobuchar is also reintroducing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act to help local news outlets negotiate for fair compensation from large digital platforms that use their content.

Publishers’ Q1 ad revenue was better than forecasts, but not by much
Digiday | Kayleigh Barber

For most of January, many publishers shared the very bleak experience of being behind 10-25% in their ad forecasts for the quarter. Now that March is over, publishers are surveying their wounds and finding that while ad revenue was indeed down, the numbers aren’t as bad as once predicted. The first quarter ended up being pretty on par with expectations and didn’t end up being “catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination,” according to Sean Griffey, CEO and co-founder of Industry Dive, though he declined to disclose hard revenue numbers or what his initial prediction was. He did say, however, that it was during the last couple weeks of the quarter that several “material” deals ended up being finalized. Griffey wasn’t alone in experiencing a significant thaw in March; other publishers are also reporting a flattening-out last month.

Also from Digiday: Q1 sales cycles were tighter than ever, but ad dollars are still not guaranteed.

Financial Times buys controlling stake in Endpoints News
Talking Biz News | Chris Roush

The Financial Times has acquired a controlling stake in Endpoints News, which covers the biopharmaceutical industry, for an undisclosed price. Endpoints has more than 163,000 subscribers and distributes content via its daily news reports and website, and at in-person and online events. This acquisition marks a significant milestone in the FT’s expansion in the U.S., where Endpoints is based, and deepens the FT’s coverage of the dynamic biopharma sector.

ICYMI: BBC journalists are planning to strike during local elections in May to protest radio cuts.

Spotify shuts down its Clubhouse-style audio app Spotify Live
Music Ally | Stuart Dredge

Spotify is shutting down its live audio app Spotify Live, but says it will continue experimenting with live features in its main service. Spotify Live — previously called Spotify Greenroom, which in turn was previously called Locker Room — was acquired in 2021 when Spotify bought its creator, startup Betty Labs. Locker Room was a sports-focused version of Clubhouse, the social-audio app that was creating a huge buzz in tech circles at the time. Spotify paid €57m for Betty Labs in March 2021, promising to “evolve and expand Locker Room into an enhanced live audio experience for a wider range of creators and fans.” The app was rebranded Spotify Greenroom and relaunched in June of that year, with Spotify commissioning several radio-style live shows focusing on sports, music, entertainment, and lifestyle. It was renamed again in April 2022 to Spotify Live, and integrated into Spotify’s main app.

Read next: The Block, a crypto media company, has laid off roughly one-third of its staff as part of a broader leadership shakeup.

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Maria Perez is director of web operations at Cision. In her spare time, she enjoys gaming, watching too much TV, and chasing squirrels with her dog Cece.

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