November 9, 2017 Last Updated 9:03 am

End to earnings seasons sees few publishers having much to crow about, divesting of print, costs cuts continues to be strategy

Morning Brief: UK heads into six round of Brexit talks with both sides expressing frustration with the lack of progress, and EU leaders beginning to warn UK that it must agree to pay before other issues can be resolved

The end of earnings season has pretty much arrived, with Time Inc. reporting this morning, and News Corp this afternoon. If Time Inc. were to produce any real news it would come from the investor conference call as its earnings report was lacking much drama. In short, revenue is falling and the company is still paying off debt, while also trying to boost profitability and its balance sheet by selling off assets.

But the conference call did not shed any light on progress being made regarding the sale of Time Inc. UK, Sunset and the rest of the properties and services it wants to divest, which may explain why Time Inc. stock remains at around $10 a share. Remember, it was just earlier this year that it looked like there was a buyer at $18 a share.

As for News Corp… well, that earnings report is suddenly more interesting now that we know that the Murdoch gang is looking to sell much of 21st Century Fox.

Two thousand seventeen has not been a good year for magazine and newspaper publishers, but most have managed to keep the wolves from the door. The problem is that few are showing any growth in the areas they are banking on in the future, instead relying on the new cliché of “pivoting to video” in place of the old one of “going digital first” — guess that is progress of a sort.

Of course, it is not true that this third quarter has not seen good earnings reports from companies dependent on advertising. Google and Facebook had record quarters, so it is not like companies are not spending marketing dollars, they are just not spending many of them in newspapers and magazines.

Time is running out for the UK in regards to Brexit.

The divorce, which should have been avoided, looks to be headed for a hard landing. It’s called a hard Brexit, one in which the UK simply pulls out with no deal with Europe. The advantage of such a hard Brexit would be that the UK would not have to agree immediately to paying the EU any break-up fee. The downside is that no trade deals would be completed and the issue of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, would not be settled.

BBC, Katya Adler:

Brexit is ‘getting dramatic’, says EU

So, here we are, poised to begin round six of Brexit talks, and it might move you to raise an eyebrow or two to hear that the two sides can’t even agree what to call these meetings now: negotiating rounds, stock-taking exercises or an information exchange…

…And why are there only two weeks left for the UK to move on the money, according to the EU? Because that is when the 27 EU capitals start discussing the draft conclusions to the leaders’ summit which takes place mid-December. They need those two weeks to more or less agree a position.

“And there’s no way they’ll agree to talk trade or transition with the UK in December, if the money issue hasn’t been put to bed beforehand. Forget it,” a high-level contact told me.

The Telegraph, Peter Foster and James Crisp:

EU’s threat: Settle the Brexit bill or we’ll force UK firms to relocate

The European Union will look to use the Brexit deadlock and rising uncertainty in the business world to “shake the tree” and force lucrative businesses to relocate to Europe, if Downing Street fails to make an early move to settle the so-called Brexit bill, the Telegraph has learned.

The hard-nosed stance comes as EU ambassadors met in Brussels for preliminary discussions about the shape of a possible Brexit transition and future relationship deal on the eve of Thursday’s Brexit negotiations.

It is always fun to read the features written by media reporters who decide to wade into the muck of Fox News for a full day or a full week to truly experience what many citizens are exposed to all the time.

It is not unusual to go into an auto repair shop and find Fox News on the television. It can be bracing if one is not used to the alternative universe Rupert Murdoch is capable of creating. On Tuesday evening, for instance, the cable news channel was able to present to its viewers programming almost completely void of any election news, thanks to that news being negative for the Republicans.

But what Murdoch worries about is not any declining fortunes for the Republicans. Fox News has thrived as a news channel in opposition. No, what Murdoch fears is instead any new competitors appearing on the right of Fox News. That is why it has become a uncritical Trump supporter, hoping that the Breitbarts of the right wing media world will not threaten its monopoly on the viewing habits of Republicans.

Politico, Jason Schwartz:

Fox, facing new competitors, clings tighter to Trump

Though Fox News remains tops in the ratings, competition is swirling around the network. The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group is working to complete a $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Broadcasting, which would allow its free broadcasts to reach 72 percent of U.S. households. Ruddy’s Newsmax TV currently has nowhere near Fox’s reach, but it is also looking to grow. POLITICO has reported that it recently signed a deal with DISH Network to increase its distribution.

And Ruddy was scheduled to meet with Bill O’Reilly this week in New York to discuss a potential spot on the network. Rumors have also linked O’Reilly and Sinclair, though its CEO and president, Chris Ripley, has denied any interest.

Beyond the TV world, there are a host of sites — starting with Breitbart — that threaten Fox News’ primacy over discourse on the right.

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