The WIR: RTL Pulls M6 Sale, Xperi Completes its Split, and the Mail Gets Sued

Dan Meier 07 October, 2022 

In this week’s Week in Review: RTL abandons its plans to sell M6, Xperi splits into two separate companies, and the Daily Mail publisher is sued for alleged phone hacking.

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RTL Cancels M6 Sale Plans
The sale of M6 is off the table, RTL CEO Thomas Rabe said on Monday. The French broadcaster was set to merge with TF1 until the French competition authority rejected the proposal. Last week the business received at least three bids for acquisition, sending the company’s shares up by around 10 percent.

Now M6 owner RTL has said “the legal risks and uncertainties” are too high to pursue a sale, as the channel’s licence is up for renewal next year and would likely complicate a deal. Instead Rabe intends to forge ahead with plans “to build a national media group of sufficient size to compete with the US platforms.”

Xperi Splits in Two
Xperi has completed its split into two separate companies: a product business and IP licensing firm. The TiVo owner first announced the move in February and received board approval in August. The two arms will now operate as independent, standalone companies.

The product business – TiVo, IMAX Enhanced, HD Radio and DTS – will still be called Xperi, while the IP licensing side houses more than 10,000 patents and applications under its new name Adeia. Xperi has also made ground in the CTV space in the last couple of years with a string of acquisitions, including OTT software platform Vewd and pay-TV video provider MobiTV.

“Our strategy is closely aligned with broad industry growth trends and creates a highly scalable revenue stream through engagement-based monetisation,” said Xperi CEO Jon Kirchner. “Our market engagement model is well positioned to drive partner adoption by allowing TV OEMs and automotive OEMs to brand the experience, retain customer ownership, and actively participate in long-term revenue generation.”

Daily Mail Sued for Alleged Phone Hacking and Bribery
Associated Newspapers – publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online – is being sued for “gross breaches of privacy” by a high-profile group of claimants, including Prince Harry, Sir Elton John and Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence. The allegations include phone hacking celebrities, bribing police officials, impersonating individuals to obtain medical information, and illegally accessing bank accounts and other financial information.

This is not the first time the newspaper industry has faced charges of this nature; in 2011, phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World precipitated advertiser boycotts that forced its closure. At the time, lawyer Jonathan Caplan told the Leveson Inquiry that “no journalist at Associated Newspapers has engaged in phone-hacking. It does not bribe police officers and, in particular, it condemns the shameful practice of hacking the mobile phones of the victims of crime, or of their families.”

With those accusations (by some of the same victims) now pointed at the Mail, the publisher is dismissing the charges as a “fishing expedition” by claimants who have already pursued cases elsewhere. “We utterly and unambiguously refute these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old,” said an Associated Newspapers spokesperson.

The Week in Tech

TikTok Sees Sixfold Sales Surge
TikTok’s European sales increased almost sixfold in 2021, according to filings from Companies House. While its losses also grew by a third, the company reported turnover above $990 million, compared with $172 million in 2020. Advertising accounted for over $802 million of its European turnover, a fivefold increase from the year before.

Musk Offers to Buy Twitter (Again)
Elon Musk’s on-again-off-again Twitter takeover could be on again, after the billionaire offered to close the $44 billion deal on its original terms. The climbdown comes days before Musk was due in court over his backing out of the agreement. The judge has given the two parties until 28th October to finalise the deal, otherwise the case will proceed in November.

UK Government Plans to Replace GDPR
The UK Government plans to replace GDPR with its own data protection system, culture secretary Michele Donelan told the Conservative Party Conference on Monday. “We will be replacing GDPR with our own business- and consumer-friendly British data protection system,” Donelan announced. “No longer will our businesses be shackled by lots of unnecessary red tape.” Read more on VideoWeek.

Political Marketers Resentfully Turn to Facebook
Political campaign marketers “have to use Facebook”, according to digital strategist Beth Becker. “Most of the other platforms won’t take our money,” she told Bloomberg, alluding to restrictions on political advertising by Twitter and TikTok – this despite Facebook offering diminishing returns due to its “stagnating user base and policy changes”, argue the dozen strategists quoted in the report. Meanwhile a coalition of non-profits and rights groups have accused the social media giant of failing to crack down on political misinformation. “Facebook exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, allowing them to run adverts with false claims,” Reuters reported.

Google Pays Record Settlement in Location Tracking Case
Google is set to pay an $85 million settlement to the state of Arizona, following allegations that the company illegally tracked the location of Android users. The suit accused the tech giant of using ‘dark patterns’ to keep location tracking running in the background, and follows revelations that Google tracks users through its Maps and Weather apps, even with Location History switched off. The settlement is reportedly one of the highest payouts by Google of its kind.

7th Minute Launches Tool for Analysing TV Mentions
Contextual data company 7th Minute has launched a new TV insights platform. 7M Discovery provides brands with insights into when they are discussed on TV, in order to enable tactical planning for marketing strategies. “TV is a hugely powerful channel – but it can be impossible to know which parts are working best,” said 7th Minute MD Ed French. “Our new platform opens the black box that is TV content to deliver TV mentions, which we see as the new frontier of media planning.”

PubMatic and Permutive Partner on First-Party Data
Ad tech firm Permutive announced a partnership with SSP PubMatic to make first-party publisher data more accessible to advertisers. Using PubMatic’s Connect platform, agencies can access Permutive-facilitated cohorts across all browsers without the need for third-party cookies. “Enabling cohorts through PubMatic’s Connect allows advertisers and publishers to achieve addressability at scale without compromising on privacy,” said Permutive CRO Mark Pearlstein.

Game Over for Google’s Gaming Service
Google will close its Stadia video game streaming service on 18th January 2023, the company said in a blog post. “It hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected,” Google said of the cloud gaming service that apparently launched in November 2019. The company is however offering Stadia as a white-label product, allowing partners to use the underlying technology for gaming, AR or video purposes.

The Week in TV

Netflix Ad Tier Could Attract Majority of Subscribers
Nearly 60 percent of Netflix subscribers will be on the ad-supported tier by 2027, Omdia research suggests. The company is forecast to generate 23 percent of its overall US revenue from instream advertising in 2027, but just 14 percent of its global revenue. “With growth in SVOD expected to increase from $86 billion in 2022 to $118 billion in 2027, it comes as no surprise that all the major SVOD services including Netflix want to take part in that growth,” said Maria Rua Aguete, Senior Research Director at Omdia.

Warner Bros. Discovery is “Not for Sale” says Zaslav
Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is not for sale, CEO David Zaslav insisted this week. Rumours of the company being bought by Comcast circulated amid cost-cutting measures and staff layoffs at WBD, as part of efforts to recoup $3 billion from its recent merger. “We are not for sale, absolutely, not for sale,” Zaslav said at a company-wide town hall session.

Peacock Reaches 15 Million Subs
Meanwhile at Comcast, the Peacock streaming service has reached 15 million paid subscribers and 30 million monthly active accounts, according to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. This marks 70 percent subscriber growth since the start of 2022, the chief exec said. Peacock’s average revenue per user (ARPU) approaches $10 for paid subscribers, bringing in an estimated $2 billion in annual revenues. “All subscribers are not created equal,” said Shell. “What you have to do is actually look at the real numbers.”

ITV Picks Up Diversity and Data Awards
ITV was named Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practitioner at the DataIQ Awards 2022. The broadcaster also won the Shared Data, Shared Culture award, alongside tech consultancy Thoughtworks. “This is a proud moment for us, being recognised for our efforts in diversifying our workforces and overall pursuit of creating an inclusive culture at ITV,” said Sanjeevan Bala, Chief Data Officer at ITV. The DataIQ Awards grow in importance every year as our world changes.”

Political Advertisers Embrace CTV
CTV is gaining traction for political marketers, according to research by Basis Technologies. Of the campaign agencies surveyed, 80 percent considered CTV the most promising development for their digital campaigns, up from 63 percent in 2020 and 40 percent in 2018. “In programmatic advertising, premium inventory access is drawing almost equal excitement,” said the report. “The growing availability of premium CTV ad inventory through demand-side platforms (DSPs), versus buying CTV ads directly with streaming platforms, is likely driving this excitement.”

Channel 4 and ViewersLogic Announce Measurement Partnership
Channel 4 has announced a new partnership between its advertising arm 4Sales and measurement panel ViewersLogic. According to Channel 4, the relationship will enable advertisers to accurately measure the impact of their TV spend on sales, footfall, app downloads and account openings. This is achieved “by measuring an individual consumer’s journey to purchase, rather than just the media they consume”, Channel 4 said. Read more on VideoWeek.

Indian Regulator Approves Sony/Zee Merger
India’s competition regulator has approved a merger between Sony India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises. The deal is set to create a $10 billion TV behemoth, according to Reuters. In August the Competition Commission of India (CCI) warned the joint entity would enjoy a “humongous market position” and wield “un-paralleled bargaining power”, operating a combined 92 channels in Indian media. The CCI has now greenlit the deal, subject to conditions that were not fully disclosed.

BT Sport Extends Heineken Champions Cup Rights
BT Sport has retained Heineken Champions Cup rights through 2024. First signed in 2015, the renewed deal allows the broadcaster to show every match in the European rugby tournament, along with select games from the EPCR Challenge Cup. The EPCR also announced ITV, RTE and S4C as its free-to-air (FTA) partners. EPCR chairman Dominic McKay said the FTA broadcasters “will deliver for us in terms of viewership growth, innovation and profile in key markets as we welcome South African clubs into the EPCR fold.”

Channel 4 and Sky Secure FTA F1 Highlights
Channel 4 and Sky have struck a deal securing FTA Formula 1 coverage on Channel 4 throughout the 2023 season. The public broadcaster will show highlights of all F1 qualifiers and races, while Sky airs live coverage of all practice laps, qualifiers and race days. “Last year’s thrilling Formula 1 season finale between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, England’s dramatic win at the 2019 Cricket World Cup and Betfred Super League rugby have all been made available to British audiences on FTA television thanks to our close working relationship with Sky, and it’s great to see this continuing into 2023,” said Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon.

The Week for Publishers

Study Shows “No Evidence” That Young People Are Less Interested in News
A Reuters Institute study has found “no evidence” that young people are less interested in news than older audiences. The research revealed differences in approaches to news, with younger people having a broader definition than traditional publisher and broadcaster output. Konrad Collao, founder of research agency Craft, added that social media platforms tend to aggregate news “in a kind of brand soup”, thanks to a “dizzying array” of publishers appearing alongside each other. “Misattribution is rife,” said Collao.

Financial Times Helps Staff with Cost-of-Living Payments
Financial Times staff are each receiving a £1,800 payment, as employees at numerous publishers around the world negotiate for cost-of-living assistance. A recent strike by Reach journalists eventually won them £200-400 each, while unionsed New York Times staff have called a one-week office boycott, claiming they have not seen pay increases since pre-pandemic.

The Week For Agencies

UK Marketers Want More Action on Carbon Footprint
A new study by Good-Loop has found that 84 percent of UK marketers think the advertising industry is not doing enough to address its carbon footprint. According to the research, 90 percent believe the digital advertising industry has a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions; 71 percent are tracking the emissions generated by their digital ads; and 38 percent said their organisation plans to reach net zero at some point in the future – only 15 percent have set targets. “In order to reach ad net zero, we now need more industry-wide education and we must collaborate to develop universal sustainable standards, to guide future best practices,” said Good-Loop founder and CEO Amy Williams.

UK Government Imposes Fresh Advertising Sanctions on Russia
The UK Government has introduced further advertising sanctions on Russia as the invasion of Ukraine wages on. “Anyone providing any advertising or marketing services to Russia, or trading in these services with Russia, will be in breach of sanctions,” warned IAB UK. “Our advice to IAB UK members is therefore to urgently review your current operations in line with Government’s statutory guidance.”

Tesco Downgrades Annual Earnings Guidance
Tesco has downgraded its annual retail earnings guidance from £2.4-2.6 billion to £2.4-2.5 billion, amid high inflation and low spending by cost-conscious consumers. “As we look to the second half, cost inflation remains significant, and it is too early to predict how customers will adapt to ongoing changes in the market,” said Tesco CEO Ken Murphy. He added that customers will celebrate Christmas “in an affordable way,” with less spent on meals out and gifts to focus on at-home celebrations.

Coca-Cola to Sponsor COP27 Despite Greenwashing Accusations

Coca-Cola has defended its decision to sponsor the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) after the deal was criticised as greenwashing. Greenpeace called Coca-Cola one of the world’s top plastic polluters, producing 120 billion single-use plastic bottles per year. The company said it will “continue to partner with other businesses, civil society organisations, and governments to support cooperative action on this critical issue.”

ISBA Offers Cookieless Guidance
ISBA has compiled ideas from publishers to help agencies prepare for the end of third-party cookies in Chrome. They include using Safari as a testing ground for new solutions, switching to Google Analytics 4 (GA4), and collaborating with publisher partners. “Brands and agencies need to audit partners and vendors to make sure first-party data is available for their campaigns,” said Tim Westcott, Head of Data Intelligence & ARM at Conde Nast. “They should also be researching and testing new ways of transacting with publishers in a post-third party cookie world and align themselves with partners who primarily leverage first-party data.

Peter Sherman to Depart Omnicom
Omnicom EVP Peter Sherman will step down at the end of the year, the agency has announced. Sherman joined the business in 2014, and leaves to become a full-time marketing and communications professor. “My time at Omnicom has been defined by incredible teams, individuals and a culture that made it the best place I could have ever hoped to spend 25 years,” said Sherman. “Throughout my tenure, I’ve seen first-hand how Omnicom evolves its services and structures ahead of an ever-changing industry, and I’m proud of my contribution to that evolution.”

Hires of the Week

Jo Jackson Becomes D&AD CEO
Global agency D&AD has named Jo Jackson as its new chief executive. Jackson formerly served as chief creative officer for, and global head of content and creative services at Diesel.

Digitas UK Names CEO Jennifer Berry
Digitas UK has appointed Jennifer Berry as CEO. She joins from fellow Publicis agency Razorfish, having spent 15 years with Publicis Groupe in Australia and the US.

Bert Habets to Chair ProSiebenSat.1 Board
Bert Habets will take over as chairperson of the Executive Board  of ProSiebenSat.1. The appointment follows the resignation of current Group CEO Rainer Beaujean. “Bert Habets has in-depth experience in managing global media companies as well as extensive expertise in launching and expanding video streaming services,” the German media company said in a statement.

Tim Wilcox Joins Pubmatic
Tim Wilcox has been named UK regional vice president at Pubmatic, a newly created position designed to grow the company’s existing agency and publisher client relations across the UK. “After 10 years at the heart of digital transformation at Amnet and TripleLift, I’m delighted to bring this experience to PubMatic,” said Willcox.

Adludio Announces Pair of Key Appointments
Ad tech firm Adludio has hired Dave Ramsay as Chief Product Officer and Ian Liddicoat as Chief Technology Officer and Head of Data Science. Ramsay previously held key roles at BT Digital, O2 Digital and Weve, while Liddicoat was Global Head of Data Science at Publicis.

Publica Enlists Commercial Director EMEA Steph Miller
Steph Miller has been appointed Commercial Director, EMEA, at Publica. Her role will involve growing the global adoption of the Publica CTV ad server, unified auction and server-side ad insertion (SSAI) products in the EMEA regions. “Steph has proven experience in building customer-centric commercial teams and executing go-to market strategies at scale,” said Publica CRO Sean Galligan.

This Week on VideoWeek

Why Brands Should Look Beyond BVOD, YouTube for CTV Opportunity, read on VideoWeek

CTV Growth is Spreading Across EU, LATAM, watch on VideoWeek

Channel 4 Looks to Attract Advertisers with ViewersLogic Measurement Partnership, read on VideoWeek

No “Silver Bullet” for Replacing the Cookie, watch on VideoWeek

Advertisers on Streaming Services Want the Same Controls They Had in Traditional TV Buying, watch on VideoWeek

The Industry Reacts to UK Government Replacing GDPR, read on VideoWeek

Should Publishers be Concerned About the TCF Lawsuit?, watch on VideoWeek

Sir Martin Sorrell: The View That Data Harms Creativity is Nonsense, watch on VideoWeek

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