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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pricey mergers are forcing some of the biggest media giants to shed assets that are no longer necessary to their core business.

Why it matters: Once sexy investments in new media companies are beginning to feel like expensive burdens on corporate giants looking to offload unnecessary debt.

Driving the news: NBCUniversal quietly sold its entire $500 million stake in Snapchat earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

  • Disney wrote down $157 million of its initial $400 million stake in Vice in 2018 as it was engaged in conversations about buying most of Fox.
  • Verizon sold Tumblr for around $3 million last year after buying it for $1.1 billion in 2013.

Other media giants are shedding non-digital assets in efforts to alleviate debt.

  • AT&T sold its stake in the Game Show Network for over $500 million last year. It has also shed several international telecom businesses since buying Time Warner in 2018 for $85 billion.
  • ViacomCBS is looking to sell Simon & Schuster, the nearly 100-year-old publishing business, to focus on streaming and video.

The bottom line: Investments that were once the "shiny new media thing" have either become "big media" themselves or didn't turn out to be the jackpots their backers and acquirers desired.

Meanwhile, new upstarts are getting funding.

  • Recent investments in The Athletic ($50 million), Axios ($20 million), Minute Media ($40 million), Action Network ($17.5 million), The Recount ($13 million) and Quibi ($750 million) suggest that investors are still looking to tie themselves to the next big thing.

Go deeper: Media companies wrestle with high debt loads

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.