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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Jun. 18, 2012 - Vol. 45 - No. 25 (download PDF version)


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MEDIA NEWS continued _____________
 

SKOUT FLIRTS WITH PR AMID CRISIS

Popular flirting application developer Skout is engaged in damage control after child rape charges were filed against users of its service for minors in three separate incidents.

Skout, which calls itself the “global network for meeting new people,” pulled the plug on its year-old service for teens ages 13-17 on June 12, a day before the New York Times ran a front-page piece about three rape cases involving adults who connected with teens as young as 12 through the app.

Skout Safety Awareness Center

Lydia Chan, identified by the Times as a Skout spokeswoman, has been a staffer in Brunswick Group’s San Francisco outpost for the past few years, a possible indication the PR firm has taken on San Francisco-based Skout as a client.

Brunswick executives have not answered inquiries from this website.

Skout said earlier this month that tens of thousands of new users were signing up every day for the service, which uses geo-location technology to show the proximity of users to one another. The company started the popular teen network last year to supplement its offering for adults after realizing that underage kids were using its 18-and-over service.

Founder and CEO Christian Wiklund told the Times he is “disgusted” by the rape charges. “When you have three, it looks like a pattern. This is my worst fear,” he said.

Skout is backed by the influential venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which pumped $22M into the company in April.

“We are extremely sorry about this, but we don’t believe we have any other choice,” Wiklund said in a statement announcing the shut-down of the teen service posted to the Skout blog. He said the shutdown is temporary as the company plans to implement more safeguards. He called out “a few bad actors trying to take advantage of some of our younger members.”

The CEO’s blog post has drawn more than 600 comments, mostly lamenting the loss of the service and asking when it will be back.

Skout’s homepage includes safety tips for users who want to meet offline and the teen service only pinpoints users to within a half-mile of their actual location.

CNN PULLS PLUG ON KING

CNN, which is struggling in the cable news ratings war, has pulled the plug on the daily “John King, USA” and moving the titular correspondent to its 2012 presidential campaign coverage.

Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” will be extended an hour to cover the vacant 6 p.m. EST time slot.

King will contribute to that program as well as Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” and other programming.

King has been chief national correspondent for the news network since 2005. June 28 will be King’s last show.

CNN’s ratings have dropped more than 50 percent over 2011 and King was sitting behind Fox and MSNBC in his time slot.

BEHAR TO JOIN CURRENT TV

Joy Behar, co-host of “The View,” will host a one-hour primetime program on Al Gore’s Current TV beginning in September. It will feature social issues, politics and cultural topics and a rotating ensemble of journalists, analysts and satirists.

Behar is a “beloved veteran TV personality with her finger on the pulse of what viewers care about,” said Gore in a statement.

She will guest anchor Eliot Spitzer’s “Viewpoint” program for a week beginning June 18 while the former New York Governor takes a vacation. That program will be renamed “Joy Behar: One Week Only *Until the Fall.”

Behar has been with the View since 1997. She hosted the “The Joy Behar Show” on HLN until Dec. 15 of last year. She began her career in the early 1980s as a stand-up comedian.

OC REGISTER PARENT SOLD

Freedom Communications, parent company of the Orange County Register, has been acquired by 2100 Trust LLC, a Massachusetts-based equity company that has had its eye on the Boston Globe.

The deal also includes California papers Barstow Desert Dispatch, Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Victorville Daily Press, Porterville Recorder plus The Sun in Yuma, Ariz. and The Gazetter of Colorado Springs.

“While providing the value that our shareholders have sought, this transaction also ensures Freedom’s communities that our newspapers serve will continue to receive the outstanding service that has been our hallmark,” said Freedom CEO Mitch Stern said in a statement. “Our employees will be able to continue the community journalism at which they so excel.”

The deal marks a two-year sell-off process by Freedom, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010. Last November, Freedom unloaded its eight-member TV group to Sinclair Broadcast Group for $385M.

Raymond Cyrus “R.C.” Hoiles bought what is now the Orange County Register in 1935 as the foundation for Freedom. Kushner, who was head of Marian Heath Greeting Cards, launched the 2100 Trust in 2009.

Kelly Mullens, who handled PR for Ryan Seacrest Productions while serving as executive VP at 42West, will join the company as its first PR executive on July 9. She will be in charge of communications, business development, marketing, community relations, sponsorship and philanthropy. Mullens will report to Seacrest and work closely with CEO Adam Sher.

 
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