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Roger Out
succession trumps business

Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes was quite literally shown the door this week by Rupert Murdoch, 21st Century Fox executive chairman. With most observers relating the ouster to a sexual harassment lawsuit filed earlier this month by a former Fox News show host and subsequent 21st Century Fox internal investigation, Mr. Ailes was finally done in by a corporate turf battle he could never win. It’s called succession and signs have been crystal clear for months if not years.

It is telling that Mr. Murdoch - The Elder - has taken over as chairman and acting CEO of Fox New and Fox Business channels. Employment contracts of several high profile Fox entertainers have clauses allowing exit with compensation if Mr. Ailes is no longer their boss. Mr. Murdoch, first and foremost, protects the family franchise; Fox News reportedly throwing off US$1.2 billion, about 20% of 21st Century Fox annual profits. Only a personal intervention from “the boss” would keep those big name show hosts in their seats and safely on message. (See more about Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation and 21st Century Fox here)

Roger Ailes understands television, most of all American television viewers. He learned this producing vacuous talk shows in the era when the head of the US broadcast regulator called the medium a “vast wasteland.” He went on to advise US presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan crafting their populist nativist messages and becoming a fixture among right-wing politicians. Mr. Ailes’ exit as former reality TV star Donald Trump pursues the US presidency is illuminating. One juicy rumor from Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff has Mr. Ailes becoming Mr. Trump’s campaign manager for the final rush to the November elections, quoted by the Hollywood Reporter (July 22).

But Mr. Murdoch, now 85, has been deeply embroiled in family issues. A year ago sons Lachlan and James were elevated to co-chairman of 21st Century Fox and company CEO, respectively. Neither have expressed any affection for Mr. Ailes; Lachlan steaming for a decade at being sidelined by Mr. Ailes and then COO Peter Chernin, James batting back Mr. Ailes’ insults. James fired Mr. Chernin in 2011. Daughter Elisabeth, who removed herself from the family business two years ago, was “ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’ horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standard.”

New station targets boat people
tourists and more

Nestled into the always stunning Riveria, corners carved from France and Italy, is Monaco. A new radio station, Radio Baikal, has gone on-the-air serving the Russian-speaking community. The program offers contemporary Russian and foreign tunes plus news and weather, according to a press release quoted by (July 20). The radio station is named after Lake Baikal, a UNESCO world heritage site, located in southern Siberia.

Radio Baikal can be heard on two FM frequencies, DAB+ and a webstream handy for the smartphone set. The Principality of Monaco reported 535 residence card holders from the Russian Federation in 2015. That doesn’t include holiday-makers and, of course, those who park their boats. A Russian-language newspaper has been published in Monaco for several years.

One Radio Baikal’s FM frequencies had been used by MC 2, an Italian language channel part of the Radio Monte Carlo network, owned by Gruppo Finelco, recently absorbed by RadioMediaset. The other had been used by Paris-based Fréquence Jazz. Radio China International operates on FM in Monaco. Operating in several Russian cities is the unrelated radio channel Radio Monte Carlo.

A history of threats, journalist murdered
“always shocking”

A car bomb exploded early Wednesday morning in central Kiev killing prominent Ukrainian journalist Pavel Sheremet, a critic of nationalist paramilitary factions. He had worked for online news portal Ukrayinska Pravda since 2012 and hosted a morning talkshow on Radio Vesti since last September. He was reportedly driving an automobile belonging to Ukrayinska Pravda owner and co-founder Olena Prytula, who was not in the car at the time, to the radio studios.

A native of Belarus, Mr. Sheremet’s reporting career began at Belarusian State TV after which he became the Belarus bureau chief for Russian State TV ORT, now known at First Channel. He fled Belarus for Russia after threats and was given Russian citizenship. He left ORT in 2008 and began working for Russian TV channel REN TV and magazine Ogonek. He relocated to Kiev in 2011 after threats in Russia.

Investigators found traces of a home-made explosive device under the car’s driver seat. Bystanders attempted to extract the seriously injured Mr. Sheremet, reported TeleKritika (July 20). Emergency services arrived within five minutes but Mr. Sheremet succumbed en route to a medical facility.

Ukrainian authorities condemned the atrocity, promised a thorough investigation and, understandably, offered a range of possible culprits. “The investigation of this terrible murder will be as transparent as possible,” said Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, quoted by (July 20). “It is a matter of our national honor.” Ms Prytula recently asked for police protection after threats. A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office said the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and EuroPol will assist local investigators. (See more about media in Ukraine here)

Friends and colleagues, there were many, expressed shock. “His tragic death came a a shock to all of us who read, watched or listened to Pavel,” said Amnesty International Moscow director Sergei Nikitin, quoted by Russian news agency RAI Novosti (July 20). “The death of a journalist is always shocking, killed for his work, his talent.”

Online news portal Ukrayinska Pravda has been central to investigative reporting in Ukraine since its founding in 2000 by Georgiy Gongadze. This has come with considerable pain. Shortly after founding the news portal Mr. Gongadze was murdered, several Interior Ministry officials were arrested five years later. An audio recording came to light implicating then President Leonid Kuchma in ordering the kidnapping of Mr. Gongadze.

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

week of July 25, 2016

In The Numbers

Public Channels Still Leading, Still Slipping
hands on the wheel As audiences shift public broadcasters face a certain quandary. With money and wherewithal to adopt new technical platforms legacy brands can be victims on institutional inertia. New channels can be developed easily. Older ones, typically with huge structures, seem to run out of energy. Private sector broadcasters don’t have that problem.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in Sports & Media

Peanuts For Traditional TV, Salad Days For Pay-TV
salad days Traditional television broadcasters have been backed into a painful corner. Video on demand services of the subscription kind are steadily raiding viewers who will pay for top flight drama and comedy series. Big name live sports is increasingly the domaine of pay-TV operators. Free-to-air broadcasters find the left-overs less than tasty.



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Investigative Reporting

Investigative reporters have a storied honor among journalists. Praise is less forthcoming from those with secrets, often ready to use all possible means - legal and otherwise - to avoid detection. New tools are emerging to shed light and tell all. This ftm Knowledge file explores methods, old and new, and the forces prefering darkness. 54 pages PDF (May 2016)

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Media in the Middle East and North Africa – new

The striking contrasts in the MENA region’s media are the hopes for new media, fears for traditional publishing and broadcasting amidst conflict and insecurity. This ftm Knowledge file notes the accomplishments and the reversals. 90 pages PDF includes Resources (April 2016)

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Media Measurement - Changing Times

The times are changing and so is media measurement. Everybody wants more, faster and better. As online and mobile metrics grow measurement of all other media must adapt. 101 pages PDF (March 2016)

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