FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
April 25, 2019
By Helen Coster and Arjun Panchadar
(Reuters) – Comcast Corp reported first-quarter profit on Thursday that beat Wall Street estimates, boosted by strong additions of high-speed internet customers in a quarter that painted another mixed picture for the biggest U.S. cable provider.
The company’s shares were up 2.5 percent in premarket trading after falling as much as 3 percent following release of its earnings report.
Overall revenue missed analyst estimates and Comcast lost more video and phone customers than expected. Revenue from its NBCUniversal cable networks, filmed entertainment and theme parks also fell short of expectations. Earnings per share did, however, exceeded expectations.
Like others in the cable television industry, Comcast is grappling with rival offerings from Alphabet Inc’s YouTube TV and subscription video services like Netflix Inc.
Earlier this week AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc both reported losing more video customers than analysts expected.
Philadelphia-based Comcast said it lost 121,000 video customers in the quarter, more than the 29,000 it shed last quarter and the 109,000 estimated by analysts, according to research firm FactSet. In response, the company is striving to build new services on top of its broadband network.
Revenue from the high-speed internet business climbed 10 percent to $4.58 billion in the first quarter as the company added 375,000 subscribers on a net basis.
Subscriber additions beat the average analyst estimate of 356,000, according to FactSet, but were down slightly from 379,000 in the same period a year earlier.
Comcast is betting that its redesigned Xfinity X1 cable box, which uses a single menu to find content across live TV, on-demand and streaming services like Netflix, will help retain and attract subscribers.
Revenue at its NBCUniversal business, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, dropped 12.5 percent to $8.31 billion.
NBCUniversal plans to launch an advertising-supported TV streaming service in 2020 that will be free for NBCUniversal’s pay-TV customers as well as Sky customers internationally.
Filmed entertainment revenue rose 7.4 percent to $1.77 billion, boosted by movies including “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” and “Us” while theme park revenue slipped 0.4 percent to $1.28 billion.
Revenue from broadcast television dropped 29.4 percent year-on-year to $2.47 billion. Excluding last year’s Olympics and Super Bowl from the prior-year comparison, however, revenue rose.
Comcast, which bought the British pay-TV group Sky last year, said revenue reported from Sky was $4.8 billion.
Excluding items, the company earned 76 cents per share, beating estimates of 68 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Comcast’s overall revenue rose 18 percent to $26.86 billion, but fell short of Wall Street expectations of $27.20 billion.
(Reporting by Helen Coster and Arjun Panchadar; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Steve Orlofsky)
The first Republican to announce a GOP 2020 primary challenge to President Donald Trump says “we would be much better off with a President Mike Pence.”
“For the good of the country, if he had the self-awareness that Richard Nixon had, sense of shame is too strong a word, but self-awareness is probably too soft a word, he would resign,” former Massachusetts Gov. Weld told MSNBC’s “The Last Word” on Tuesday night. “The truth is: We would be much better off with a President Mike Pence than a President Donald Trump.”
Weld warned against Democrats impeaching President Trump, because “those boils over at the White House are dying to have impeachment proceedings initiated so that Mr. Trump can scream like a stuffed pig.”
“It’s just going to give him such a delicious talking point the last few months before the election,” Weld told host Lawrence O’Donnell.
Weld is ready to challenge President Trump in a Republican primary for the 2020 presidential candidacy, although Ohio Republican John Kasich and Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan are weighing a run as well.
Weld admitted he will not bother campaigning in the deep red southern states, but he will focus on the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and California.
“It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity, and opportunity for all,” he said at the time. “There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a binary code in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo
April 24, 2019
By Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Technology firms should do more to connect people in positive ways and steer away from trends that have tended to exploit human weaknesses, ethicists told a meeting of Silicon Valley leaders on Tuesday.
Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are the co-founders of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology and the ones who prompted Apple and Google to nudge phone users toward reducing their screen time.
Now they want companies and regulators to focus on reversing what they called “human downgrading,” which they see as at the root of a dozen worsening problems, by reconsidering the design and financial incentives of their systems.
Before a hand-picked crowd of about 300 technologists, philanthropists and others concerned with issues such as internet addiction, political polarization, and the spread of misinformation on the web, Harris said Silicon Valley was too focused on making computers surpass human strengths, rather than worrying about how they already exploit human weaknesses.
If that is not reversed, he said, “that could be the end of human agency,” or free will.
Problems include the spread of hate speech and conspiracy theories, propelled by financial incentives to keep users engaged alongside the use of powerful artificial intelligence on platforms like Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Harris said.
YouTube and other companies have said they are cracking down on extremist speech and have removed advertising revenue-sharing from some categories of content.
Active Facebook communities can be a force for good but they also aid the dissemination of false information, the campaigners said. For example, a vocal fringe that oppose vaccines, believing contrary to scientific evidence that they cause autism, has led to an uptick in diseases that were nearly eradicated.
Facebook said in March it would reduce the distribution of content from groups promoting vaccine hoaxes.
In an interview after his speech, Harris said that what he has called a race to the bottom of the brainstem – manipulation of human instincts and emotions – could be reversed.
For example, he said that Apple and Google could reward app developers who help users, or Facebook could suggest that someone showing signs of depression call a friend who had previously been supportive.
Tech personalities attending included Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak, early Facebook funder turned critic Roger McNamee and MoveOn founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Tech money is also backing the Center, including charitable funds started by founders of Hewlett Packard, EBay, and Craigslist.
The big companies, Harris said, “can change the incentives.”
(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Rosalba O’Brien)
FILE PHOTO: A woman stands in front of the logo of Snap Inc. on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) while waiting for Snap Inc. to post their IPO, in New York City, NY, U.S. March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
April 23, 2019
By Vibhuti Sharma and Sheila Dang
(Reuters) – Snap Inc’s original shows and rebuilt Android app helped it add Snapchat users for the first time in three quarters and beat analyst revenue expectations, but that was not enough to push its shares higher after a sharp run up this year.
Snap said the number of daily active Snapchat users rose to 190 million in the first quarter from 186 million in the prior period, but remained below the 191 million it had a year earlier.
The figure, widely watched by investors and advertisers, beat analysts’ average estimate of 187.2 million daily users, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Overall revenue jumped nearly 40 percent in the quarter from a year earlier as Snap was able to wring more ad revenue out of each user.
Executives left the company in droves late last year after a widely panned redesign of Snapchat, and any uptick is a welcome sign Snap has stemmed user losses.
Chief Executive Evan Spiegel has worked to turn Snap’s business around while the company largely avoid privacy and other scandals plaguing bigger rivals like Facebook Inc.
Snap did not give specific guidance on future user growth, but cautioned that growth rates tend to be higher in the first quarter versus the second quarter.
Shares of the company, which rose 12 percent immediately after the results, gave up most of their gains to trade up marginally at $12.08. They have more than doubled in value so far this year.
“Things are improving at Snap, and that could be putting it mildly – although with the shares up 100% so far this year, that’s pretty priced in,” said Nicholas Hyett, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, in a note.
In an effort to increase how much time users spend on the app, Snap, which faces stiff competition from Facebook’s Instagram, launched more than 50 shows and publisher stories in international markets alone during the reported quarter.
It also rebuilt its Android app, which had more bugs and a worse user experience than its iOS app. Snap had prioritized development on the Apple ecosystem through its stock market debut in 2017.
Snap’s revenue, which it earns from selling advertising on the app, jumped 39 percent to $320.4 million and beat Wall Street’s average estimate of $306.6 million.
Revenue growth was helped by new ad formats like unskippable commercials on its original shows, which are housed on the Discover page, a panel on the app that contains publisher content along with influencer content.
“Snap is maintaining, which is a good place for them considering they still lack any clear direction on how to expand or pivot its app beyond the under 34-year-old demographic,” said Jessica Liu, a marketing analyst at Forrester.
Snap’s focus on privacy and communication between friends has helped it avoid problems with misinformation and the spread of abusive content, which have been an issue for Facebook and Google’s YouTube, two of Snap’s main rivals for digital ad dollars.
Average revenue per user jumped 39 percent to $1.68 during the quarter from a year earlier.
The company’s net loss narrowed to $310.4 million, or 23 cents per share, from $385.8 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company lost 10 cents per share in the quarter, beating analyst estimates of losses of 12 cents per share.
For the second quarter, Snap said it expects revenue of $335 million to $360 million. That compares with the average analyst estimate for revenue of $348.5 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Earlier this month, Snap launched a gaming platform within its Snapchat app featuring original and third-party games such as Zynga Inc’s Tiny Royale.
(This story corrects tenth paragraph to show Snap launched 50 shows and publisher stories in international markets, not that Snap launched 50 original shows).
(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Meredith Mazzilli)
President Donald Trump isn’t taking impeachment talk by Democrats lightly.
“How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats? MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted Sunday evening after arriving in Washington following an Easter Sunday spent at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Earlier, the president criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, calling it the “worst and most corrupt political Witch Hunt in the history of the United Stated (No Collusion) when it was the “other side” that illegally created the diversionary & criminal event and even spied on my campaign? Disgraceful!”
Several Democrats, including Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., over the weekend said impeachment could still be pursued.
“Impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful,” said Schiff during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” before adding, “It may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless.”
U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, whose panel would spearhead any impeachment proceedings, said Democrats would press ahead with investigations of Trump in Congress and “see where the facts lead us.”
“Obstruction of justice, if proven, would be impeachable,” Nadler said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
A redacted version of Mueller’s long-awaited report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, the product of a 22-month investigation, outlined multiple instances where Trump tried to thwart the probe. While it stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime, it did not exonerate him.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
Source: NewsMax Politics
Early livestream videos that broadcast the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris were flagged for misinformation and showed viewers an article about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
BuzzFeed News reported Monday, as live footage of the fire first spread, YouTube’s automated systems recognized the live-streams as some sort of misinformation. That triggered a new feature on videos that tries to tamp down false reporting by showing facts.
In the case of the cathedral fire, an Encyclopedia Britannica article called “September 11 attacks” appeared in a grey bar underneath the video player. A snippet of the article was visible, along with a link to read the full text.
BuzzFeed claimed to have discovered at least three livestreams of the fire posted by major news outlets containing the disclaimer. YouTube was made aware of the abnormality and removed the alerts.
“These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call,” a YouTube spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “We are disabling these panels for livestreams related to the fire.”
There was no immediate word on what caused the fire at the cathedral, which was completed in 1345 after nearly 200 years of construction. It has been added to and renovated several times over the years.
More recently, a project was underway to shore up the cathedral’s roof. The fire caused the main spire and the roof to collapse, which left the intricate metal scaffolding standing in the middle.
As the fire continued to burn, however, the scaffolding appeared to be collapsing in itself.
Source: NewsMax America
The liberal think tank accused by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., of using its resources to smear him pushed back Sunday, saying the 2020 Democratic presidential contender was attempting to “muzzle” journalists with its independent news outfit, ThinkProgress.
“The Center for American Progress is a research institution focused on ideas and policy. ThinkProgress is part of CAP Action: It is editorially independent of both CAP and CAP Action and has been for years,” the Center for American Progress (CAP) said in a statement.
“We do not suggest, edit, approve or see their stories before publishing. And, in this particular instance, no one at CAP or CAP Action knew about this article or video’s existence before publication.”
Sanders earlier Sunday wrote a harshly-worded letter accusing CAP of “using its resources to smear” him and two of his Senate colleagues running in 2020 after ThinkProgress published a video suggesting Sanders stopped disparaging millionaires when he became one.
“I and other Democratic candidates are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other,” Sanders wrote in the April 13 letter first obtained by The New York Times.
“Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress is using its resources to smear Senator Booker, Senator Warren, and myself, among others. This is hard the way to build unity, or to win the general election.”
Source: NewsMax Politics