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Daily Briefing: Fox News Settles
Good morning! And welcome to Business Side.
In today’s briefing we cover:
Fox News’ settlement
Podcasts & trust
Plus other developments across the industry
Let’s get to it.
Fox News settles. Just as the trial was set to begin yesterday, Fox News agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems to settle their defamation lawsuit. Dominion had originally sued for $1.6 billion in damages, arguing its reputation was harmed by Fox News’ false claims regarding its voting machines.
Financially, the settlement is painful but bearable for Fox. It represents about 7% of the company’s revenue in 2022. But the amount is historic. According to media consultant Richard Toefel: “This is by a factor of more than 3x the largest dollar loss in a media libel case in American history.”
From a legal standpoint, the deal avoids what would have been a significant test of the First Amendment. At issue would’ve been the question of whether Fox had acted with “actual malice” when televising false claims against Dominion.
For some, the settlement provides accountability for Fox’s editorial malpractice. But it’s accountability of a limited sort. As writer James Fallows tweeted: “It is ‘paying to avoid further embarrassing disclosures’ accountability … It is not ‘telling our audience in public that we lied’ accountability.”
Samsung News launches. The company is replacing its Free app – which provides news, live TV, and games – with a dedicated Samsung News app. At launch, the app includes a customizable “Following” tab, topic-specific feeds, and morning & evening briefings. It will feature content from “trusted partners” like Bloomberg and Sports Illustrated with plans to add more outlets over time.
The move is notable because the Free app is pre-installed on many Samsung smartphones and tablets. Estimates vary, but Samsung appears to have between 20% and 30% of the global smartphone market (it’s neck and neck with Apple). If we assume 6.8 billion smartphone users worldwide, Samsung phones are likely used by somewhere in the range of 1.3 to 2 billion people.
For now, the News app is only rolling out to US-based users, but a user base this large presents real opportunity.
Podcasts & trust. Republicans trust news from podcasts more than news from other mediums. In a Pew survey, 46% of Republicans said they trust podcast news more than other formats; 43% trust it about the same; and 10% trust it less. By contrast, Democrats trust podcast news similarly to other formats.
Another interesting stat from the study: About half of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last year; and of this half, two thirds say “news is discussed” on the shows they listen to.
At Condé Nast, The New York Times, Vice, and Vox, people of color represented ($) a lower percentage of new hires in 2022 vs. 2021.
A Swedish public broadcaster joined NPR and PBS in stopping all activity on Twitter.
The Boston Globe launched a daily news and sports TV program in partnership with New England Sports Network.
The New Republic reviewed Ben Smith’s new book on digital media’s scale era, calling it a “whirlwind nostalgia trip.”
Reddit will begin charging for API access.
Microsoft’s digital ad chief said ($) that Bing’s AI-generated answers will drive “more traffic and clicks” to publishers.
Instagram rolled out a new feature allowing users to add up to 5 “links in bio.”
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