Does Everyone Want Out? eMusic Knocking the Exit Door…

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Imeem and iLike were scooped for scraps by MySpace Music.  But Lala may have walked away with a respectable buyout, and now, eMusic appears to be angling for a favorable exit.  According to a Christmas Eve story in the New York Post, eMusic owner JDS Capital (the same owner as the Orchard) is “examining strategic alternatives for its business,” including a straight-out acquisition or recapitalization.  The company is also considering an on-demand streaming component to complement its subscription-based, download model.

These types of stories rarely just appear out of nowhere, and JDS is probably juicing the channels.  The Post notes that Best Buy and Rhapsody have already expressed interest, and eMusic chief Danny Stein (and JDS president) seems ready to talk. “If an offer was made that created value for our shareholders, we’d listen to it,” Stein stated.

Okay then.  But who wants to buy this thing?  Question marks surround the scalability of an aficionado-focused, paid site, and indeed, Stein has been attempting to drive eMusic towards a broader audience.  But that appears to be eroding the core subscriber audience, and the company may be struggling to broaden its audience.  Meanwhile, former eMusic CEO David Pakman - pushedleft in late 2008 - is now a venture capitalist at Venrock with a more modest (and probably realistic) concept of digital media growth.

Update: Pakman responded in comments below.

This story has been provided by our content partner Digital Music News.


Carol Felsenthal: David Gregory Gets Tougher: His Expression Says It All

When David Gregory, in the wake of the death of NBC's Tim Russert, took over the helm of Meet the Press, expectations for Gregory were sky high. He was the fearless reporter who had made a name for himself taking on all of "W's" men.

Gregory waltzed into a news program that boasted by far the highest Sunday morning ratings, leaving ABC's George Stephanopoulos and This Week in the dust.

But Gregory seemed tamed rather than energized by taking over the coveted Russert seat. He seemed to lose his edge, his one-on one's with administration bigwigs seemed soft and studiously respectful. The ratings gap between NBC and ABC narrowed, and Stephanopoulos was closing in.

On the Sunday after Christmas, 2009, two days after a 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, attempted to blow a hole in the side of Northwest Delta Flight 253 bound from Amsterdam to Detroit, the old Gregory was back, impatient, irritable, shorn of his mushy style.

Not only did he refuse to make nice with his first two guests, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, both or whom, Napolitano most egregiously, refused to address the simple question: Why was this man whose own father had contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to express concerns about his son's radical politics allowed to board a plane, not to mention board it while carrying explosives and a syringe?

As if to illustrate his refusal to let his guests off the hook, Gregory's face carried an angry expression that occupied the seconds between his guests' mealy-mouthed answers and Gregory's next question. (Gregory did the show from a studio in Lexington, Kentucky, where he was visiting relatives, so both guests were with him by remote camera.)

Gregory looked like he was channeling Chris Matthews, who openly scowls when he disagrees with his guests' answers or analyses.

After the third or fourth time, Gregory's sour expression lost some of its punch, and I began to wonder if he had contracted food poisoning from Christmas leftovers.


Meghan McCain’s ‘Chesty’ Twitpic Makes HuffPo Celebrity Scandals List

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The death of Michael Jackson; Mackenzie Phillips‘ incest accusation; Kanye West’s uber-interruption; Meghan McCain’s PG-rated (at best) Twitpic: One of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong.

On The Huffington Post’s list of Shocking 2009 Celebrity Scandals, the story of Meghan McCain’s Twitpic-inspired firestorm seems to stick out like a…sore thumb. What’s the real scandal here?

HuffPo describes it like this:

Meghan McCain tweeted this chesty photo illustrating her idea of a progressive night in. Controversy ensued and she made an empty threat to quit Twitter but instead tweeted a half-hearted apology for any offense her boobs may have caused.

“Chesty?” Is Bob Eubanks writing for HuffPo now? Are they afraid this picture would give people the urge to “make whoopee?”

The only scandal here is that anyone would object to this, and that it resulted in Meg promising no more Twitpics. It makes me seriously wonder what’s wrong with this country. It’s a really good picture, with the added artsy touch of black-and-white photography.

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On the other hand, who could blame HuffPo for finding an excuse to publish the sexy, gritty image one

more time? One of the great attractions of Meg’s Twitter feed is that late-night, unfiltered, intimate quality she achieves, and this photo epitomizes that.

Still, this isn’t even my favorite Meghan McCain Twitpic this year. For my money, that honor goes to this shot of a reporter apparently interviewing Meg’s boobs. This one’s also not scandalous, but another example of Meg’s sense of humor about her pride and joy.


In Praise Of Greta Van Susteren And Larry King, Live Saturday Night

greta_12-27A lot is made here and elsewhere about the changing cable news business, which seems to show viewers want opinion more and more.

Which made it refreshing to see Greta Van Susteren and Larry King on Fox News and CNN Saturday night, anchoring live special coverage of the attempted terror attack.

The presence of Van Susteren and King at 9pmET last night further highlighted what was happening on the third main cable news network, MSNBC – which was showing a Lock Up marathon during prime time. As Rachel Sklar noted on Christmas night, it was more (or less) of the same for the NBCU cable outlet. “Yeah, it’s Christmas,” wrotes Sklar Wednesday. “THAT’S THE POINT. If you’re going to call yourself a news network, then cover the news.”

But it wasn’t just that CNN and Fox News made the choice to go live to cover the developing story, which still was seeing new details emerge days after the incident. It was the decision to put two prime time anchors, two of the mainstays at their networks, in the spotlight. Van Susteren’s 10pmET On The Record is enjoying another year of tremendous ratings, and with two opinion hosts acting as lead-in, she remains the hard news aspect of FNC’s prime time. King, of course, has been leading Larry King Live at 9pmET on CNN and continues to be a place for newsmakers to tell their story.

Both were excellent last night in prime time (Van Susteren anchored for two hours), as were the other reporters and analysts who contributed to the broadcasts. It shows just how important CNN and Fox News considered the story.

MSNBC’s decision to stick with their regular programming has played out so many times before it should no longer be considered surprising. They’re live in the mornings on weekends, and show a few minutes of news cut-ins throughout the day and into the evening, but for the most part, MSNBC is the place for prison docs on Saturday and Sunday. It was only made more glaring last night, when two big stars came in from their post-Christmas weekend to cover a story that matters.

Below are clips from Van Susteren and King last night:


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Tapper To Gibbs: If Flight 253 Suspect Was On A Watch List, Who Was Watching?

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Hot on the heels of Janet Napolitano’s “The system worked like clockwork” appearance on This Week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced questions from Jake Tapper, who cut through the word blizzard and got to the heart of the issue. If the flight 523 suspect was on a watch list, who was watching him? Gibbs’ response was equally on target.

Gibbs began by explaining the differences between the various lists, from the large 550,000 name database, to the 14,000 on the “selectee list (people who get pulled out of line for additional searches), and the 4,000 person “no fly list.” He pointed out that “these procedures are several years old,” which may be seen by some as pointing a finger at the Bush administration, but which I would peg as an attempt to frame this in nonpartisan terms. Gibbs has never been shy about name-checking the previous administration, but he didn’t do that here.

Here’s where Jake Tapper’s experience with the White House really comes in handy, as he frames his question to Gibbs through the lens of their shared knowledge of the President:

TAPPER: Let me ask you a question. Knowing the president — I’ve been covering him for a few years — I can’t imagine that he would hear this guy’s father reported to the U.S. embassy that he has extremist religious views, and within a matter of weeks, he boards an airplane with explosives on his person and is not subject to additional security. I can’t believe that he would not hear that information and say, “that’s nuts.” Why did that happen?

GIBBS: Jake, he’s heard that information and heard it not long after it was brought to the situation room. That’s what has precipitated both a watch listing review and a detection capabilities review, to ensure that one, the information that we have goes through the process the right way and surfaces to those that have to make those decisions. Again, we have a watch list that this individual was on, that contains about 50 — 550,000 names. So this individual was listed in November of 2009 on that database based on that information. The no-fly list and the selectee list…

TAPPER: But who’s watching him? If he’s on that watch list, who’s watching him?

GIBBS: Well, again, Jake, I think if you read the papers this morning, you’ll find that the name was listed, concern was brought, but the ability…

TAPPER: Brought to who? Anybody can just write down a name. I mean…

GIBBS: No, no, this is a database that a series of agencies enter names into, and a series of agencies draw information from. But again, Jake, the investigation will look backwards and figure out if any signs were missed, if any procedures can be changed about how names are watch-listed. But again, understand there are 18,000 people on either a selectee or a no-fly list. This is a database that contains — I’m sorry, 550,000 of those names. It’s a huge number. We have to ensure and the president has asked that a review be undertaken swiftly to ensure that any information that’s gathered and put into any database, that it gets to where it needs to go, to the people that are making decisions.
But again, Jake, understanding, 550,000 are on that one database. The president wants to review some of these older procedures and see if, quite frankly, they are outdated…

TAPPER: They need to be updated.

GIBBS: … (inaudible) what we’re facing today.

Gibbs takes the long way around to saying that the listing procedure needs to be fixed, a message that is almost certainly more comforting to people than the idea that this near-disaster is an example of a “smoothly operating” and “clockwork” system.

Above all else, it’s important for incidents like this not to become political. Conservatives have tried to attack the President for not addressing the nation about this, even though, as Tapper points out, President Bush didn’t feel the need to do so after the Richard Reid “Shoe Bomber” incident.

Gibbs (and Tapper) are right that the list procedures need to be reviewed. It doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to check that 550,000-name list, as anyone who ever had a late fee at Blockbuster can attest. Would it really take that much more time to frisk these people? Maybe if they all flew on the same day.

On the other hand, would such a move tip off someone new on the radar, causing him to take extra-stealthy measure? Probably. That’s the real problem here. No matter what we do, we will always be playing catch-up with terrorists. Their objective is too simple. The sad fact is, we are never going to be completely safe. Even if we ignored “political correctness,” as the right puts it, and started profiling our little hearts out, do you think there is no way to defeat that? A guy can’t put on a Yankees hat and change his name to “George,” or “Mark?”

The important thing is to remain calm, do everything that is reasonably possible to do, and wait until you know all of the facts. Don’t freak out, but also don’t pretend everything’s peachy.