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Situational awareness: Les Moonves will not receive a severance package from CBS. The longtime chairman and CEO, who faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, was fired with cause, the company's board of directors said yesterday.
New studies suggest that efforts to bring transparency to media, including attempts by journalists to publicly defend their work, have helped regain the trust of American over the last two years from an all-time low in 2016.
Why it matters: The research suggests that efforts to explain how journalism works are helping the American people better understand the role that the media plays in democracy.
What's next: Even in areas where journalists and media companies never thought they needed to be so explicit, an effort to more clearly explain how their companies operate is helping.
The big picture: While trust in the news media has recovered slightly since 2016, it still remains low compared to decades of prior research conducted by Gallup. This could be because of the larger trends affecting confidence in many major U.S. institutions, per Gallup.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The biggest takeaway from the new Senate-commissioned research reports on Russian social media propaganda is that bad actors specifically go after vulnerable people who are more susceptible to radicalization.
Why it matters: Policymakers have failed to address how systemic problems that exist within society, like tensions around race and immigration, make the U.S. an easier target for online election meddling and propaganda campaigns.
Be smart: They've also failed to address the scope of these campaigns beyond Google, Twitter and Facebook. As the reports show, the Russians operated on nearly every social media platform, from Reddit to Pinterest to even PayPal.
Some of the most eye-opening findings from the new reports are the ones that show how Russians exploited existing divisions around key moments, people or movements in the U.S.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
One of the biggest takeaways from 2018 is that streaming is here to stay, and for Pay-TV providers hemorrhaging traditional TV subscribers, buying media has become an expensive way to potentially make up for those losses.
"Media has become only a marginally-profitable business on a standalone basis ... But if attached to a profitable network business (wireless or fixed broadband) and if the delivery is packaged in a way that media business can reduce customer churn, then I think it remains pretty interesting on an integrated basis."— John Harrison, EY's global media & entertainment sector leader
The most notable example of this was AT&T's $85 billion takeover of Time Warner this year. The acquisition is being used primarily to create streaming properties that customers can specially access with network subscriptions.
The other side: Early positive earnings results suggest that AT&T's investment seems to be doing alright for the telecom giant, but Verizon's strategy to spend $10 billion assembling a digital media business has played out much worse. And not all telecom executives think an original content strategy makes sense.
"I see telecom executives investing in content. I don't think that's where we (Altice USA) should be spending our capital ... The usage of a consumer on broadband has nothing to do with whether you own your own content."— Dexter Goei, CEO of Altice USA, to Axios
Streaming dominance in 2018, by the numbers:
Between the lines: For now, Netflix is the dominant SVOD (subscription video on-demand) service with the most subscribers and programming, but that could change when new streaming giants (AT&T, Disney etc.) launch their services, and take their valuable franchises with them.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
The transition to streaming, the legalization of sports betting, and the rise of esports have created new dynamics for the sports industry that will continue to play out next year.
Sports betting is driving a new content industry. Betting on a sports event increases the likelihood of watching it on TV, according to a new telecommunications, media and technology report from Deloitte.
Leagues are expanding, and getting choosier. Sports leagues that have traditionally distributed their content to Pay-TV providers are thinking more strategically about licensing their content to digital streamers where it will eventually get wider mass distribution.
Regional Sports Networks are losing value: As it turns out, Fox may not be getting the types of bids it wants for its 22 regional sports networks that it has to divest as a part of its deal with Disney.
Football is keeping the lights on: Despite weak November ratings for cable and broadcast networks last month, NFL ratings continue to grow, according to research firm MoffettNathanson.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Facebook announced last week that the criteria used to determine whether someone is a daily active visitor of its product "Watch" is by measuring whether a users spends at least one minute on the "Watch" platform per day, but Axios has confirmed that those 60 seconds do not need to be consecutive.
The big picture: There's a reason Facebook wants you to believe that "Watch" is pulling in TV-like engagement: It wants to sell TV-like video ads.
For the first time, the U.S. is one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists after 6 reporters were killed in 2018, including 5 at the Capitol Gazette, according to Reporters Without Borders' annual report.
The big picture: An unheard of level of hostility toward media — murders, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances — has increased worldwide, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
By the numbers:
Go deeper: United States ranks 45th in press freedom
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The Federal Communications Commission is opening the door to another deregulatory spree, targeting rules that stop local broadcasters from merging, Axios' David McCabe reports.
Details: The FCC is currently debating wither their current rule — which bans a company from owning more than one of the top four stations in a market — “continues to foster competition," and provide a diversity of viewpoints in local markets.
The other side: Opponents of media consolidation says it shrinks the number of voices from which consumers can get important local news and information.
U.S. adults spend 10 hours and 24 minutes per day connected to media, according to Nielsen's latest Total Audience Report. What's more shocking than the crazy amount of time we spend consuming content is the amount that older people consume compared to younger generations.