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Univision could see its largest decline in revenue ever

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It’s not getting any easier for Univision’s owners.

Already battered by two failed attempts at an initial public offering and a resurgent rival in Telemundo, the five private equity owners of the once-dominant Spanish language broadcaster are now faced with a brutal carriage dispute and a forecast that revenue next year will decline 4 percent — its largest downturn ever, The Post has learned.

A leading Univision lender said he is forecasting a 4 percent revenue drop in 2019 — after being flat this year.

The decline is expected to put more pressure on the heavily indebted media company.

The pressure to increase revenue is likely one reason for the carriage-fee standoff with Dish.

The pay-TV distributor dropped Univision on June 30 when it couldn’t come to an agreement on fees.

Univision’s owners — Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Capital Partners, TPG Capital, THL Partners and Haim Saban — may also be looking to raise money by selling off some assets.

The Big Apple-based company is weighing the sale of Fusion Media Group, which includes Gizmodo and Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal reported on July 6.

The unit, cobbled together in separate purchases in 2016, was supposed to be Univision’s growth engine.

Meanwhile, as the five PE owners try to sort out the mess, rival Telemundo, owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, is enjoying growing prime-time ratings — thanks in large part to new, saucier novelas that are appealing to a younger audience.

Telemundo, which once trailed Univision in the ratings game by a wide margin, won the coveted 18-to-49 demo during prime time for the week of June 18-24, according to Nielsen — averaging a 0.5 rating to Univision’s 0.4.
At the same time, Telemundo is scoring record daytime ratings thanks to the World Cup. It outbid Univision for the rights to the 2018 and 2022 soccer tournaments.

The struggle is not what the five PE giants had hoped for when they bought Univision for $13.7 billion in 2007.

But with five owners, each with their own idea of what they wanted out of the deal — a quick flip for some and a prolonged ownership period for another, for example — perhaps it is no surprise Univision is suffering.

“This is a poster child of a club deal gone wrong,” a source who was close to Univision’s owners told The Post, referring to when multiple buyout players own the same company.

As it turned out, Providence and THL Partners wanted a quick flip, while Madison Dearborn and TPG wanted to expand the business for at least five years, the source said.

“If everybody’s in charge, nobody is in charge,” the source said.

Any two of the firms, besides Saban, can stop significant moves, the source said.

The PE firms tried to sell Univision in 2014 at a $20 billion valuation and received no takers.

“The five partners could not agree on a [reduced] price,” the source said.

The Univision lender believes the network is worth $11.5 billion, not much more than its $8 billion in debt.

Univision and the PE firms declined to comment.

Source: https://nypost.com/2018/07/09/univision-could-see-its-largest-decline-in-revenue-ever/

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Google and Mastercard are secretly tracking your offline purchases

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Google has quietly been providing select advertisers a “stockpile” of offline credit card transaction data.

After a four year negotiation, Google and Mastercard reached a deal that would pay the latter millions in exchange for coughing up data on its card holders, according to a Bloomberg report. Google then packaged the data into a new tool, called Store Sales Measurement, that allowed its customers to track whether online ads turned into real world retail sales.

Neither company informed its users of the arrangement. For Mastercard, that means the bulk of its two billion customers have no knowledge of the behind-the-scenes tracking.

“People don’t expect what they buy physically in a store to be linked to what they are buying online,” Christine Bannan, counsel with the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Bloomberg. “There’s just far too much burden that companies place on consumers and not enough responsibility being taken by companies to inform users what they’re doing and what rights they have.”

Last year, when Google first announced the Store Sales Measurement service, the company claimed to have access to “approximately 70 percent” of US credit and debit cards. Purchases made on Mastercard-branded cards account for some 25 percent of all credit card transactions in the US, according to financial research firm Nilson Report.

Though Google didn’t name its partners, the 70 percent figure would suggest Mastercard isn’t the only credit card company it is currently partnered with.

Visa and American Express did not respond to our inquiries about whether they also had similar arrangements with Google.
A Google spokesperson told TNW:

Before we launched this beta product last year, we built a new, double-blind encryption technology that prevents both Google and our partners from viewing our respective users’ personally identifiable information. We do not have access to any personal information from our partners’ credit and debit cards, nor do we share any personal information with our partners. Google users can opt-out with their Web and App Activity controls, at any time.

While users have the ability to opt out of offline tracking, it remains unclear whether most users even know it exists. The opt out tool Google mentions makes no mention of tracking offline purchases.

For Google, this is just another step in bridging the gap between online ads and offline sales. Since at least 2014, the company has used Google Maps to notify advertisers about users who viewed their ads and then visited brick-and-mortar establishments. This tool, however, didn’t track sales made within the stores.

Mastercard couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesperson, however, told Slate:

Regarding the [Bloomberg] article you cited, I’d quickly note that the premise of what was reported is false. The way our network operates, we do not know the individual items that a consumer purchases in any shopping card — physical or digital. No individual transactions or personal data is provided. That delivers on the expectation of privacy from both consumers and merchants around he world. In processing a transaction, we see the retailers name and the total amount of the consumer’s purchase, but not specific items.

Source: https://thenextweb.com/google/2018/08/31/google-and-mastercard-are-secretly-tracking-your-offline-purchases/

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THIS WEEK IN THE FUTURE OF CARS: HONEY WE BROKE THE FUTURE

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IF ANY ONE thing launched Tesla’s meteoric rise from a small Silicon Valley startup to one of the world’s most famous and exciting companies, it’s Elon Musk. Every scrap of news about the company now makes headlines, as its outspoken, tweeting CEO struggles to turn a profit. But, whew, even by his standards, this week was a biggie for Musk … again. After a questionable announcement via Twitter that he’s considering taking Tesla private, the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly investigating him. Investors have filed four lawsuits, so far. Rapper Azealia Banks is somehow involved, and furious.

None of that, though, stopped Musk’s Boring Company from announcing plans to build a tunnel to LA’s Dodger Stadium. And amid the noise, Google sister company Sidewalk Labs revealed more details about its scheme for building the city of the future, starting with Toronto. It was a doozy of a week, and not just for Elon. Let’s get you caught up.

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-sec-news-roundup/

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WSJ: Cohen Under Investigation For Tax Fraud In New York

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Federal prosecutors in New York are homing in on possible tax fraud as part of their criminal investigation into the financial dealings of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A person familiar with the probe told the Journal that the possible fraud violations center on whether Cohen underreported the income he earned from his taxi medallion business on federal tax returns. Those funds amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars Cohen received in cash.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office are also investigating whether employees at New York’s Sterling National Bank allowed Cohen to take out loans for that business without providing appropriate documentation, according to the report.

Cohen is under investigation for a host of financial crimes, including campaign finance violations and bank fraud. The former Trump Organization executive has signaled his willingness to cooperate with prosecutors and turn over information damaging to the president.

As TPM has reported, the once-lucrative taxi medallion business was a significant revenue stream for the Cohen family during the 2000s and 2010s. New York taxi moguls Simon Garber and Gene Freidman paid Cohen and his wife a monthly rate for managing the medallions the couple owned. The price of medallions plummeted in recent years thanks to the rise of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.

The Journal reported that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed Cohen’s former accountant, Jeffrey A. Getzel, who also served as an accountant for Freidman. Freidman earlier this year agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as needed as part of a lenient plea deal. The former “Taxi King” of New York pleaded guilty to one count of criminal tax evasion after an investigation into his own taxi businesses.

Source: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/michael-cohen-under-investigation-tax-fraud-new-york

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