October 23, 2017 Last Updated 2:45 pm

Russian radio journalist stabbed in Moscow attack; Will anything derail Murdoch’s Sky takeover?

Morning Brief: Two Northern Italian regions, Lombardy and Veneto, go to the polls to vote in favor of autonomy, even as Spain appears determined to end Catalan self-rule

The seasons have finally, and abruptly changed here in Chicago, apparently a sign that summer will not be endless, at least this year. For the past few days the temperatures neared 80, but rain and cold swept in on Sunday and now thoughts can drift towards the question of when the first snow will appear.

When you live in the Midwest the changing of the seasons can be a comforting thing. A reminder that there is a regular pattern to life, things will get better, brighter, warmer, some day.

That is good to remember when the news in the media world is so dark and depressing.

The Guardian, Shaun Walker:

Russian radio journalist stabbed in neck at her Moscow office

A well known Russian journalist is in hospital after being stabbed in the neck by an intruder at work. Tatyana Felgenhauer, the deputy editor of Ekho Moskvy radio station, was attacked on Monday lunchtime at the radio station’s studios in central Moscow…

“Tanya’s in hospital, her condition is serious but not critical, the attacker has been apprehended,” wrote Vitaly Ruvinsky, Ekho’s website editor, on Facebook. He posted photographs of police detaining a man, apparently the attacker, and of spots of blood on the floor…

…Ekho Moskvy is one of the few outlets for independent journalism in Russia. It features reports and discussions sharply critical of the Kremlin, despite being owned by the media arm of the energy giant Gazprom. Felgenhauer co-hosts a morning discussion show on the station.

Freedom House, Annabelle Chapman:

Pluralism Under Attack The Assault on Press Freedom in Poland

International actors, including the European Union (EU), have expressed alarm at PiS’s changes to the public media, but have struggled to formulate an effective response. Moreover, there is a risk that the situation in the Polish media will be forgotten as policymakers’ and analysts’ gazes are drawn elsewhere. Yet the breakdown of press freedom in the country is still unfolding, as public and private outlets adapt to the new leadership in Warsaw. PiS itself has indicated that it is not finished “reforming” the media.

The state of the Polish media matters because Poland matters. It is the largest former Eastern Bloc country in the EU and the union’s fifth-largest economy after Brexit. It has long been seen as a success story of the 1990s, with its peaceful transition from communism to multiparty democracy…

…Indeed, developments in Poland underscore a worrying trend toward illiberalism in the region, epitomized by Hungary since Viktor Orbán became prime minister in 2010. PiS’s changes to the public media and other institutions echo moves by Orbán over the past few years. Unlike Hungary, Poland still has a pluralistic private media, with outlets that are vocally critical of the government. As political pressure exacerbates their existing economic troubles, the question is how long these outlets will survive.

The New York Times, Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt:

O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract

Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases…

…It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.

CNBC, Lucy Handley:

Fox hits new hurdle in $15 billion takeover of Sky after O’Reilly contract revelations

But in light of the Times report over the weekend, the U.K.’s shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has said he will write to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urging it to turn down 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion ($15.4 billion) takeover of Sky.

“The latest revelations about Bill O’Reilly are depressingly familiar. They show that 21st Century Fox engaged in a prolonged campaign to cover up allegations of serious sexual harassment by a senior employee instead of investigating the claims and taking action against him,” Watson said in a statement emailed to CNBC.

“The fact that Fox handed Mr O’Reilly a lucrative new contract worth $25 million months after he reportedly paid $32 million to settle a claim by a colleague is jaw-dropping. It raises yet more questions about the corporate culture at 21st Century Fox,” he added.


Catalonia warns of civil disobedience as Madrid readies direct rule

The Catalan crisis has raised fears among European countries that it could spill over to the rest of the continent.

From Scotland to Flanders and Lombardy, the 2007-09 financial crisis, unemployment and migration have allowed anti-EU and populist parties to feed off discontent with political elites and reopen regional divisions.

Two wealthy regions of northern Italy voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for greater autonomy.

US News & World Report, Reuters/Francesca Landini:

Italian Regions Vote in Favor of Autonomy in Shadow of Catalonia Crisis

Two wealthy regions of northern Italy voted overwhelmingly on Sunday for greater autonomy in referendums that could fan regional tensions in Europe at a time when Spain is striving to prevent Catalonia from breaking away.

Millions of people in Lombardy and Veneto, both run by the once openly secessionist Lega Nord party, voted more than 90 percent for “yes”, according to preliminary results released just before midnight (2200 GMT). Ballots closed at 2100 GMT.

The party called the referendums to secure a mandate to negotiate a better financial arrangement with Rome, an ambition that mirrors Catalonia’s goal to claw back taxes from Madrid.

Photo: Skyline from Planetarium by Don Harder, used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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