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Forecast > Google, Web major figures in 2007 media I January 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media.
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The Los Angeles Times makes its 2007 predictions concerning media, both old and new. “There may be one constant in the media sector in 2007: its obsession with Google Inc. and the Web,” the Times writes.

Putting more on the line online > In ’07, old media will go to greater lengths to assuage Web envy, our reporters predict. Suits and strategies will shift.

There may be one constant in the media sector in 2007: its obsession with Google Inc. and the Web.

Internet envy had old media working overtime in 2006. Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner Redstone became so overwrought after losing the MySpace social networking site to News Corp. that he served up his well-regarded lieutenant of 20 years, Tom Freston, as a scapegoat. Freston was sacked.

The scramble to keep up with the new medium, along with the threat of a Hollywood writers strike, the possible retirement of a handful of industry bosses and some high-profile mergers, will make for an exciting, if unpredictable, 2007 in the media, entertainment and technology businesses. That uncertainty won’t stop us from making our annual predictions, based on interviews with analysts, investors and executives, along with some educated guesswork.

The Eye meets the brain. Talks among the major TV networks about building a video-sharing service to rival Google’s YouTube break down when CBS Inc. splits from the pack and signs a three-year partnership with Google. The search giant gains access to the broadcaster’s vast video library and some of its radio advertising inventory. CBS gets close to $1 billion in revenue guarantees, propelling its stock in the short run.

Can you hear Jobs now? Apple Computer Inc. unveils an iPod cellphone that is anything but the bride of “FrankenPhone,” the name given its first attempt to put the iTunes music service on Motorola’s clunky Rokr phone.

Apple tries something radical for the U.S. cellular market, selling the phone without a service plan and promoting it as a sexy fashion accessory. ITunes gets a bump as youths and adults listen to even more music on the go.

But will Apple co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Jobs deflect an options backdating probe and be around to take the bow?

Zucker saddles a peacock. NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright retires early this year, handing the reins to Jeff Zucker, his second in command. But objects in Zucker’s rearview mirror may be closer than they appear.

Although steadfast in his support of Zucker, Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of NBC Universal parent General Electric Co., conducted a stealth headhunting expedition for Wright’s replacement last year. It was inconclusive, but Immelt clearly has a Plan B.

In December, he dispatched veteran GE executive Michael Pilot to be NBC Universal’s head of advertising sales, telling Wall Street that his pick was the “single best guy” at GE to fill the slot. “Mike now is in NBC to make it work,” he said.

The Chandlers’ comeback. Tribune Co. is bought by the Los Angeles newspaper dynasty that is its largest shareholder, which is intent on avoiding a huge tax bill had the company, owner of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs, KTLA-TV Channel 5 and many other properties, been sold off piecemeal.

It’s hardly the result anticipated when, in mid-2006, the family began agitating for management to spin off its broadcasting arm to lift the wilting stock price.

Yahoo goes hitching. With its stock drooping, the Internet portal decides that it can’t keep pace with Google without nuptials. Potential partners are plentiful: Time Warner Inc.’s AOL , Microsoft Corp.’s MSN, EBay Inc. and a handful of older media giants eager to bet on Internet content.

Yahoo Chief Executive Terry Semel retires after seeing the merger through. He’s succeeded by his No. 2, Sue Decker, unless the partner is EBay, whose CEO, Meg Whitman, would get the job.

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