May 2, 2017 Last Updated 9:20 am

Shine resignation likely not the end of Fox News makeover; Apple earnings after the bell

Morning Brief: New Media Investment Group reports a loss in Q1 as same-store sales fall 6.2 percent, though thanks to recent acquisitions, total revenue was up, company consolidates seven Arkansas papers into two editions

The continuing saga of Fox News took another turn yesterday when Rupert Murdoch accepted Bill Shine’s resignation as one of the division’s co-presidents. The resignation was not unexpected, with New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman on top of the story as he has been for the past year.

Shine’s resignation is one of those behind the camera moves that won’t effect viewers much, except that Shine was a close ally of Roger Ailes, and as such intimately knew the winning formula, such as it is. His replacement is also part of the clan, Shine’s deputy, Suzanne Scott. She becomes president of programming, and has some baggage of her own, as Sherman reminded us.

While the ascension of a woman to a top leadership role is a marked change for Fox, Scott’s appointment shouldn’t be seen as a culture change. Like Shine, she was a fierce Ailes loyalist. And as I’ve reported, she enforced Ailes’s dictums, including his miniskirt dress code for on-air women. She was also involved in monitoring former Fox booker Laurie Luhn while Ailes allegedly carried on a psychologically and sexually abusive relationship with Luhn (Scott denies knowing about it).

I think what we will see is more of the dumb things Fox News has done recently, like try and boost Trump by showing the unemployment figures after 100 days for each of the last four presidents. The effort was widely laughed at for proving the exact opposite of what they intended.

Just to clear, as if it is not, what it really shows is the sorry state the economy was in when Barack Obama entered the White House, and the improved employment picture when he left.

New York, Gabriel Sherman:

Murdochs Might Not Be Done Cleaning House at Fox News

Many people at Fox News don’t expect Shine to be the last of the Ailes acolytes to leave. In the wake of Hannity’s tweets last week, sources inside Fox speculated today that he might follow Shine out the door. But a close friend of Hannity said that’s not the case: “He didn’t leave for Ailes. He ain’t leaving for Shine.” Hannity tweeted tonight that he is not negotiating an exit from Fox.

Meanwhile, the network’s general counsel Dianne Brandi is being discussed as the next possible departure, given she signed many of the sexual harassment settlements (including Luhn’s). As of tonight, Fox executives said Brandi is safe. But Shine’s departure proves how quickly that state of affairs can change.

Heavy, Brendan Morrow:

Suzanne Scott: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

…According to TV Newser, Suzanne Scott worked for CNBC before coming to Fox News in 1996.

She also worked at America’s Talking, which was a talk show channel that spun off from CNBC but only lasted for two years…

…David Folkenflik, journalist with NPR, reports that some women at Fox News are “reacting viscerally” against the idea of Suzanne Scott being named president of programming.

Folkenflik also quotes one current Fox employee who says that Scott is “worse than Shine,” with an ex-employee adding that she is “a nightmare” who is “just as bad as the rest.”

Later today Apple will be reporting earnings for its second quarter of fiscal 2017 (the last quarter of the calendar year is Apple’s first quarter). Expectations are not as high as they used to be, thanks to a couple disappointing quarters in a row, also this quarter doesn’t involve the Christmas holiday season.

Still, it will be interesting to see what the iPad sales numbers are like. Apple introduced a new, lower priced model in the quarter, and Microsoft just reported that its Surface numbers were disappointing. Did Apple finally reverse iPad sales declines?

We’ll see around 4:30 ET this afternoon.

Last week New Media Investment Group reported earnings and they show just how on the edge some of the newspaper groups are.

New Media Investment Group publishes under the GateHouse Media name, and like Gannett, have been rolling up newspaper properties. Thanks to acquisitions, revenue actually grew slightly, but on a same store sales basis they declined 6.2 percent. That’s actually better than other newspaper companies have been reporting so far.

Net income came in at a loss of $3.7 million, but that was due to a $6.5 million of non-cash asset write down for print facility consolidation. The company also had $2.4 million in “integration and reorganization costs.”

But that helps mask the fact that income would have still come in slightly below last year’s $4.97 million in net income. In other words, like Gannett, getting sales to result in profits is becoming very difficult. For a company with a lot of debt, that can be a problem, though the levels seem steady right now.

One move the company has made to cut costs was announced today: the publisher said it would consolidate its seven weekly newspapers in central Arkansas into two countywide weeklies.

The Maumelle Monitor, Sherwood Voice and Jacksonville Patriot will merge into the North Little Rock Times to cover Pulaski County, while the Cabot Star-Herald, the Lonoke Democrat and The Carlisle Independent will merge to create the Lonoke County Democrat.

GateHouse Media also owns five dailies in the state, the Daily Siftings Herald, the Hope Star, the Pine Bluff Commercial, the Southwest Times Record, and the Stuttgart Daily Leader.

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