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Jeff Zucker Partners with Private Equity to Build New Media Brand

The success of Zucker’s transition from a TV producer and corporate operator to a private equity investor remains to be seen.

Maddy Troy

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Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

After departing from CNN more than a year ago, Jeff Zucker, the network’s former president, has embarked on a quest for business opportunities with the support of $1 billion in funding from prominent investors in the media and finance sectors.

RedBird Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, and International Media Investments, backed by the United Arab Emirates government, have placed their bets on Zucker’s track record in the media industry. They believe his expertise will enable him to identify promising investments in digital media, sports, entertainment, and news.

According to The New York Times, RedBird IMI, the newly formed venture, involves key players such as Gerry Cardinale, the CEO and founder of RedBird, and Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, an Emirati government minister who has been instrumental in IMI’s investment discussions in the United States. Mr. Cardinale serves as the chief investment officer of RedBird IMI, while Mr. Al Jaber holds the position of chairman.

The venture will receive a commitment of $250 million from RedBird, with IMI contributing the remaining $750 million. Since launching his venture, Zucker has attracted numerous suitors, including former CNN employees, agents, and corporate development executives, who have visited his offices on Madison Avenue near Central Park in Manhattan. In these meetings, he has reportedly shared his insights on the future of entertainment, sports, and news, while evaluating various investment prospects.

Describing RedBird IMI as “Candle Media but half the price,” in reference to a company led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, Zucker has conveyed his vision for the venture. Candle Media has made substantial cash and stock acquisitions, including Moonbug Entertainment, the creator of the popular animated show “CoComelon,” and Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon’s production company.

The success of Zucker’s transition from a TV producer and corporate operator to a private equity investor remains to be seen. Private equity ventures rely on identifying valuable assets and astute deal-making for profitability. However, Zucker benefits from the expertise of Mr. Cardinale, a seasoned Goldman Sachs veteran with extensive investment experience.

Zucker has already begun exploring potential deals. RedBird IMI has engaged in discussions regarding investments in digital media start-ups like Puck and Semafor. They have also met with the founders of Punchbowl News, a media start-up focused on Capitol Hill affairs, launched in 2021. Zucker has expressed his interest in building a company, similar to Condé Nast, that owns digital publications catering to specific audiences.

Since the inception of RedBird IMI, Zucker has been actively expanding his team. Rani Raad, the former president of CNN Commercial Worldwide, who previously worked alongside Zucker at CNN, has joined the venture.

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Media Business

Benztown to Host Programming Webinar Featuring Dr. Ed Cohen and Mike McVay

“In today’s radio environment where every quarter-hour matters, there are quarter-hours hidden everywhere.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo promoting a Benztown webinar featuring Mike McVay and Dr. Ed Cohen

Benztown is announcing plans for a webinar featuring Dr. Ed Cohen and Mike McVay centered around utilizing data to increase listening credits in the Nielsen radio ratings.

Unlocking Radio Secrets: Every Minute Matters; Improving Your Ratings will be held on Thursday, June 27th at 1 PM ET. In the webinar, Benztown will showcase its SpotGPS tool for radio programmers.

The software “is a powerful tool … that transforms airplay data into powerful and actionable commercial content analysis in a compelling, visual, and intuitive form that is a game-changer for radio stations,” according to the company, who designed it specifically for PPM markets.

“In today’s radio environment where every quarter-hour matters, there are quarter-hours hidden everywhere. Some radio stations know where they are and how to take advantage of them. Knowing where they are illuminates an otherwise dark room,” the company said of the webinar. “Some radio stations accept the darkness and blame ratings methodology. The smart ones live in the light.”

The upcoming webinar is free to those wishing to attend. To register, click here.

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Media Business

Remote News Service Adds 3 New Markets

“I’m so pleased that all of our team’s hard work is paying off.”

Barrett News Media

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Remote News Service has added three new markets to its growing list of affiliates.

The news network will now provide services to WXJB-FM near Tampa, WIRY-FM in Plattsburgh, New York, and to Oklahoma City stations owned by Champling Broadcasting — which includes Freedom 96.9.

“I’m so pleased that all of our team’s hard work is paying off. Happy clients, make us super happy, and really proud,” Remote News Service owner Lesley Lotto said.

“The addition of Remote News Service has been a big boost to our local news,” stated WXJB GM Barbara Manuel. “It has dramatically raised the profile of our talk station. We are already out selling it!” 

“I would highly recommend Remote News Service if you are considering an outside source to cover your local news. Our anchor has been very responsive and professional,” added WIRY co-owner Joey Trombly. “We transitioned to this service and it was seamless. We are getting positive feedback in our marketplace since we made this change”.

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Media Business

Libsyn Completes Integration With YouTube API Features for Podcast Publishers

“By integrating YouTube directly into our platform, we’re empowering creators to expand their reach and engage with a broader audience while simplifying their workflow.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of the YouTube and Libsyn logos

Libsyn has announced it has successfully integrated with YouTube and its new Podcast API features, making publishing to YouTube Music an easier process for its customers.

“Our mission at Libsyn is to be the premier destination for anyone at any stage of their podcasting journey to distribute their podcast, grow their audience, and monetize their content,” said CEO John Gibbons. “We’ve evolved from a singular hosting provider to a suite of services for creators and advertisers through our investments in platform innovations and expanded partnerships.

“By integrating YouTube directly into our platform, we’re empowering creators to expand their reach and engage with a broader audience while simplifying their workflow.”

Podcast publishers with Libsyn can now directly upload their episodes to YouTube Music. The new integration can also convert audio files to MP4 video files.

Streamlining the process to upload to YouTube Music as two studies in 2023 showed YouTube is the most used podcast platform in the United States.

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