Robert Allbritton, the executive chairman of Perpetual Capital and publisher of Politico, is preparing to launch a global technology news site.

March 19, 2019 | Hollywood


Good morning. Today in San Francisco: Google will unveil its new video game streaming service, or "Netflix of Games." It may be the most significant innovation since the home console.


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Robert Allbritton to launch tech news site


Market Scoop: Robert Allbritton, the executive chairman of private equity firm Perpetual Capital and publisher of Politico, is preparing to launch a global technology news site, the latest sign of growing investment in tech coverage across American journalism.


• The new site, which Allbritton informally refers to as "Techco," will aim to cover the technology industry as aggressively as Politico covers politics.


• It will be helmed by veteran journalist Tim Grieve, who has served as vice president of news at McClatchy, editor-in-chief and president of National Journal and managing editor of Politico.


Grieve calls from Brussels:


• "The site will cover the global fight for control of power in tech."


• "It's about the tech companies changing the world, and the regulators that are trying to rein them in."


• "It’s not just focused on San Francisco or Washington — it's various places in and out of the United States ... China and the Chinese tech companies will be a big part of it."


• "There is no separate tech industry anymore. Every company is a tech company."


The questions Grieve wouldn't answer:


• When it will launch, what it will be called and how many reporters it will staff — though he said "the aspiration is that ultimately we will be quite big."


• Ad-supported or subscription? "We’ll rely on a number of different revenue streams to support our work."


The Big Picture: American news outlets are ramping up their coverage of the technology industry amid growing scrutiny over issues like data privacy, antitrust and technology's general influence on society.


• The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic are all increasing their investments in tech journalism, as are smaller outfits like The Information and Axios.


Grieve: "From government and geopolitical issues to just understanding the device I’m holding in my hand, there’s never been a more important time to cover this story."


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Facebook struggles with local


Sign of the Times: Facebook's effort to bolster the local news industry through the "Today In" app has run into trouble because there aren't enough local news outlets to sustain the enterprise.


Stunning Stat, via Facebook's Jimmy O'Keefe and Josh Mabry: "About one in three users in the U.S. live in places where we cannot find enough local news on Facebook to launch Today In."


The Big Picture: The real casualty of shifting news economics has been local news. We live in a country where small towns and cities increasingly don't have dedicated journalists covering local issues.


What's Next: Facebook is dedicating more than $300 million to help support journalism over the next three years, including a grant program for local media organizations.

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Occam's Razor: Remember when Jeff Bezos floated a conspiracy theory insinuating that President Trump and Saudi Arabia were behind a plot to expose his extramarital affair with Lauren Sanchez?


• It turns out there's a simpler explanation, per WSJ: Sanchez's brother sold the National Enquirer the story for $200,000.


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Devin Nunes sues Twitter


Big in the Bay, big in the Beltway: Republican Rep. Devin Nunes has sued Twitter for more than $250 million on the charge that it "shadow banned” him and other conservatives in an effort to influence the 2018 midterm elections.


• The suit claims Twitter knowingly hosted and monetized content that was "abusive, hateful and defamatory" toward conservatives.


Cold water, via Axios' Sara Fischer:


• "There’s been no substantial proof that the engineers at any of the big tech platforms have systemic bias against one political ideology over another when building algorithms."


So, what gives?


• Fischer: "Republicans in Congress have alleged that bias exists for some time ... [possibly] to create a narrative that the Big Tech establishment ... is rigged against them."


The Big Picture: The accusation may be false. The lawsuit is real.

Market Links


Brian Roberts combines the ad power of NBCU and Sky (Reuters)


Jimmy Pitaro makes ESPN+ the exclusive home for UFC (The Verge)


Reed Hastings confirms Netflix won't play ball with Apple (Recode)


Bernadette Aulestia leaves HBO amid the AT&T shakeup (CNBC)


Donna Brazile gets picked up as a Fox News contributor (NBC News)


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Kevin Tsujihara resigns


Talk of Tinseltown: Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara has resigned amid an investigation into allegations that he used his position to advance the career of a woman with whom he was accused of having an affair.


• His ouster comes two weeks after THR revealed text messages in which he promised to push for auditions for actress Charlotte Kirk.


Tsujihara: "It has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success."


• WarnerMedia chief John Stankey: "Kevin acknowledges that his mistakes are inconsistent with the Company’s leadership expectations and could impact the Company’s ability to execute going forward."


The Big Picture: WarnerMedia has now lost four of its top executives since its sale to AT&T, including former Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes, former Turner chief John Martin and former HBO chief Richard Plepler (none of whom were accused of any impropriety).


• Recode's Peter Kafka: "In October 2016, AT&T ... praised the company’s leadership as 'second to none.' ... Now we are going to find out what Time Warner is worth without that leadership."


What's Next: Stankey will announce an interim leadership team today that will likely include Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group chair Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. Television Group president Peter Roth, and at least one other executive.


• The next move is finding a permanent replacement.

What Next: Vulture's Adam Sternbergh goes inside the podcast craze: "These humble chunks of audio have emerged as the most significant and exciting cultural innovation of the new century."


See you tomorrow.


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