August 7, 2015 Last Updated 10:47 am

Fox News sets the rules, puts on the show; Hearst thwarted in effort to acquire titles in Russia

Morning Brief: Apple Watch sales may be already effecting the traditional watch market, with June sales falling 11 percent, an industry observer reports

The Republicans, or rather Fox News, held two debates among its throng of candidates yesterday. The first, held in front of an empty auditorium, seemed to be an attempt to whittle down the field. The second, in front of a packed house, seemed designed to take Donald Trump down a few notches. Both efforts will likely succeed.

drudgepollOf course, the only real winner last night was Fox News that controlled the debate, set the rules, and seems to have complete ownership of the process – at least for one half of the electorate. Fox patted itself on the back and made sure to have someone online say something nice about all the candidates except Donald Trump, who the network would like to see bow out.

Commentators after the event said John Kasich of Ohio and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio did best, but polls on right wing websites such as The Drudge Report showed a clear preference for… Donald Trump, as if the debate had never actually happened. A poll on, the website for Alabama Media Group, the publisher of The Birmingham News, showed similar results.

Does that tell us that maybe, just maybe, Fox News is not as influential as all of us in the media presume? I don’t know.

We see Roger Ailes direct the commentary on the cable news channel, handpick the questions the candidates will be asked, and still viewers fail to toe the party line. I suppose that is good news.

In the first debate, the one held at 5pm in front of… no one, Carly Fiorina seemed to be the clear winner. Here the after debate polls and the on air commentators seemed to agree, Fiorina was steadiest and most engaging. That may mean a promotion from the minor leagues to the big show at the next debate.

An effort by Hearst Communications to purchase several magazines published in Russia has been stopped by the Government Commission for the Oversight of Foreign Investment. Hearst was attempting to purchase the magazines from the Finnish publisher Sanoma Independent Media.

Sanoma, which publishes Cosmopolitan and Esquire in Russia, put its 50 percent stake in Fashion Press up for sale at a time when that country is trying to restrict foreign ownership of magazines and newspapers. That Hearst would be blocked was probably to be expected.

President Vladimir Putin signed a law in October of last year that requires media companies to reduce foreign ownership to 20 percent by 2016.

The story that may dominate the news early next week is that Typhoon Soudelor is headed towards Taiwan, and could cause significant damage beginning on Monday.

“It is barreling down on Taiwan and winds will strengthen to around 130 mph by the time it hits at some point this afternoon U.S. time,”the Weather Channel’s forecaster Michael Palmer said. “There will undoubtedly be some significant damage, there will be some massive waves and flash flooding.”

The typhoon has already killed one person, a child who was swept out to sea, and up to 2,000 residents have already been evacuated from Taiwan’s outlying islands.

Whether the Apple Watch becomes a series new revenue stream for Apple is still to be determined – for now the company places the new product is its “Other” category – but it is, apparently, having an impact on sales of traditional watches, according to data from NPD Group.

The company reported that retailers sold $375 million of watches during June, 11 percent less than in the prior year.

“The Apple Watch is going to gain a significant amount of penetration,” Fred Levin, head of the market researcher’s luxury division, told Bloomberg. “The first couple of years will be difficult for watches in fashion categories.”

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