During the past month or so, U.S. news has been dominated by both the MyDoom computer worm (let's hope the offered rewards lead to the code writer's arrest) and the Democratic presidential primaries. Adding to the campaign coverage, LexisNexis launched a new file that bundles relevant U.S. election information from some of its more than 32,000 news, business, and legal sources into a one-stop resource. Current LexisNexis flat-rate subscribers to news content can access the new Campaign 2004 file on the lexis.com and nexis.com services at no additional charge. By visiting http://www.lexis nexis.com/campaign2004, nonsubscribers can view some of the campaign coverage for free, including the latest news and the candidates' positions on major issues.
To aid the print and online media, Factiva provides a media index that tracks the visibility of high-profile election candidates. From January 2004 through the Democratic National Convention in July, the Factiva Media Visibility Index will track the number of weekly media mentions received by each of the Democratic presidential candidates.
Eagle-eyed news scout Gary Price has posted several compilations of Election 2004 resources on his ResourceShelf.com site. One that's particularly interesting--and revealing--is FactCheck.org, produced by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. The project's goal is to serve as a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocate for voters that aims "to reduce the level of deception and confusion" in U.S. politics. "We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases." This site is well worth a look.
On the M&A Path
Those of us who are growing weary of the malicious code stories and nonstop political reporting can turn to the blitz of coverage on Comcast's recent offer to buy Disney. Comcast emphasized the advantages of merging the content and distribution companies. As of this writing, the Disney board had just rejected the bid as too low. By the way, Disney owns ABC and ESPN, while Comcast recently purchased AT&T Broadband.
The media has had a field day by comparing the proposed merger to the AOL Time Warner union (which has certainly had its share of troubles), commenting on the consolidation of news and entertainment sources, and speculating about the effects on Microsoft, which already has relationships with both Disney and Comcast. One source reported that Time Warner was weighing a possible counter-bid for Disney, while others suggested that Microsoft might buy Disney. Comcast could also raise its offer. Time will tell, but the stakes are definitely high on this deal as it could potentially reshape this industry.
The serious business side of the content industry has seen some acquisition activity as well. Thomson Corp. announced it will acquire privately held CCBN, Inc. (Corporate Communications Broadcast Network). Thomson currently owns 10 percent of the company. CCBN provides investor relations, Web site hosting, Web-casting, and financial disclosure services. Besides the premium StreetEvents subscription service, the organization offers a free public Web site, FullDisclosure.com. The CCBN content is complementary to Thomson Financial's offerings. The acquisition (conveniently) serves to end the lawsuit filed by CCBN against Thomson Financial, alleging unfair business practices. (See the NewsBreak at http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/ nb020805-2.htm.) CCBN was co-founded in 1997 by Rob Adler and Jeff Parker, founder of First Call (which was bought by Thomson in 1986) and CEO of Thomson Financial from 1986 to 1991.
The Industry Shuffle
I don't normally comment on executive job changes, but has anyone else noticed that there seem to be a lot of comings and goings lately? At Thomson Gale, there have been reports of layoffs, and Allen Paschal suddenly resigned as president (no details available). …