April 27, 2015 Last Updated 7:49 am

Japan’s credit downgraded as concerns rise about its control of the media; can Apple reverse iPad sales declines?

Morning Brief: Apple earnings this afternoon, Time Inc. on the 7th (the same day as the election in the U.K.)

Japan suddenly shot back into the news today when Reuters reported that Fitch would had downgraded the country’s credit rating, following a similar downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service late last year.

Abe-155Also, The New York Times reported on the Japanese government’s efforts to control the news media in the country, threatening to pull licenses for media outlets that “intentionally twist facts” – a euphemism for not toeing the government’s line.

“The Abe government is showing an obsession with the media that verges on paranoia,” the Times quotes Keigo Takeda, a former editor in chief at Newsweek Japan, referring to Shinzō Abe, the prime minister. “I have never seen this level of efforts to micromanage specific newspapers and TV programs.”

The fear is that Japan’s conservative government would like to rearm, and to do so will need to revise the country’s pacifist constitution.

iPad-bixThe real world forced the Apple Watch off the front pages of most newspapers this weekend as a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. While tech reporters will, no doubt, continue to report on their experiences with the watch, the rest of the media world moves on.

But Apple news will return with a vengeance this afternoon at Apple reports its earnings. Forecasts are that Apple will report another blowout quarter, with revenue up around 30 percent. But the one might guess, with some level of confidence, that growth will be heavily skewed towards iPhone sales, as the company has reported four quarters of declining iPad sales.

The magic number today is 16.3 million – the number sold in Q1 of 2014 (that would be Q2 of Apple’s financial calendar).

Of course, investors really don’t care about the iPad, already concluding the Apple’s future is elsewhere – such as the Apple Watch. But some, like CNBC, believe that the new product will prove disappointing, contributing only modestly to earnings.

But don’t expect to hear anything negative today. Apple wisely chose to launch the Apple Watch early this quarter, meaning that today’s earnings report will not reflect sales of the new device, allowing CEO Tim Cook to talk about the Apple Watch in only the most glowing terms.

The UK election is now right around the corner, and though the election cycle is far shorter in the UK than in the US, there are already those rather tired of the whole process.

Mixed in with stories of The Telegraph and their support for the Tories, is a column by Robert Preston that looks at the election as if already in the rear view mirror.

“Wade through the digital comment at the bottom of so many election pieces and you stumble into web swamps heaving with hate,” Preston writes, concluding that readers today simply want their news coverage as heavily biased and one-sided as possible. “Apparently today’s version of democratic freedom means avoiding reading something you don’t agree with.”

I hoped Preston would speculate further as to why this is. He pretty much just blames social media, but fails to see that media itself is partly to blame. Fox News, for instance, just doesn’t spew out the Republican party line, it also takes jabs at the NYT and others that don’t – building into their audiences a dislike for any media that is not delivering a consistent, partisan message.

Liberals tend to not like their news this way, which is one reason why MSNBC performs so badly, and why I know few who would be upset if the cable channel moved from politics to reruns of Green Acres – even Democrats can’t stand the cable channel.

Comments are closed.