Red Ink, NYT Changes & Baldwin Blues

Red Ink

On the heels of News Corp doubling the cost of his tabloid, the New York Post -- which is bleeding $70 million dollars annually -- Rupert Murdoch is looking for a plan. The mogul is gathering his top news executives in his Northern California Ranch next week for a three-day confab on how to transition his newspaper empire to the digital age.

This is reportedly Murdoch's most in-depth meeting on the topic to date, prompted by the fact that his newspapers -- including the New York Post and the Times of London -- have been badly hit by advertisers’ transition to the Web. Coming out of this meeting, we could see a whole new strategy for the news and Web site division, and potentially for some executives to be switched around.

Murdoch may own his network and movie studio, but he built his empire on newspapers, starting with the paper he inherited from his father. Murdoch is an avid believer in the adage 'content is king' and has said that his company's news content will be useful on the Web, including on his MySpace site.

New York Times, Time to Change?

At the New York Times annual meeting this morning, investors withheld 42 percent of votes for NYT directors, even more than the 30% of votes that were withheld last year. The protest is an attack on the company's lagging stock price, and a call for change. But the withholding of votes can't have a direct effect because the Sulzberger family retains control of the company. The votes are a protest of the company's dual-share structure, which gives the Sulzbergers control of 70% of the company's board and the fact that Arthur Sulzberger Jr. shares both the roles of chairman of the company and publisher of its flagship paper, the Times. The family acknowledged that it's facing quite the panoply of problems, with Sulzberger saying he's also dissatisfied with the company's stock price and saying he's working to contain costs, and find new ways to grow revenues. And if the stock price doesn't rise, you can bet that we'll see much more investor agitation for change at the Times.

Agency Dumps Alec

Creative Artistes Agency (CAA) and Alec Baldwin -- one of the leads of NBC's "30 Rock" --are parting ways, ending a long relationship. What's the inside scoop? My sources tell me that CAA fired Baldwin over his phone message debacle. His tirade against his daughter, calling her a "thoughtless little pig," was caught on tape and leaked out to juicy sites like I'm hearing that CAA didn't want anything to do with him. And the fact that CAA also represents his ex-wife Kim Basinger, who he bashed in his nasty message, didn't help a bit.

Questions? Comments?