News Corporation or News Corp. was an American multinational mass media corporation headquartered in New York City. It was the world's second-largest media group in 2011 in terms of revenue, and the world's third largest in entertainment in 2009.News Corporation was a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ. Formerly incorporated in Adelaide, South Australia, the company was re-incorporated under Delaware General Corporation Law after a majority of shareholders approved the move on 12 November 2004. News Corporation was headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, in the newer 1960s–1970s corridor of the Rockefeller Center complex.On 28 June 2012, Rupert Murdoch announced that, after concerns from shareholders in response to its recent scandals and to "unlock even greater long-term shareholder value", News Corporation's assets would be split into two publicly traded companies, one oriented towards media, and the other towards publishing. The split formally took place on 28 June 2013; where the present News Corp. was renamed 21st Century Fox and consists primarily of media outlets, while a new News Corp was formed to take on the publishing and Australian broadcasting assets .Its major holdings at the time of the split were News Limited , News International , Dow Jones & Company , the book publisher HarperCollins, and the Fox Entertainment Group . Wikipedia.
News Article | April 23, 2017
A day after Bill O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News amid a firestorm of mounting sexual harassment allegations, Alisyn Camerota, O’Reilly’s former colleague who now works at CNN, predicted there would be more allegations of harassment at the News Corp.-owned cable network. On Sunday, Camerota said that former Fox News chief Roger Ailes — who resigned last summer under a cloud of similar harassment claims — sexually harassed her, too. “Yes, Roger Ailes did sexually harass me,” Camerota told Brian Stelter in an interview that aired on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday morning. Camerota, who worked at Fox for more than a decade, said that when she first began her career there, Ailes propositioned her in his office. “When I was first starting out at Fox and I was single, and I remember Roger, being in Roger’s office, and I was saying that I wanted more opportunity,” Camerota recalled. “He said, ‘Well, I would have to work with you. I would have to work with you on that case. I would have to work with you really closely, and it may require us getting to know each other better, and that might have to happen away from here, and it might have to happen at a hotel. Do you know what I’m saying?’ And I said ‘Yeah, I think I do know what you’re saying.'” Related: ‘This was the culture’: Former Fox colleagues react after O’Reilly ouster Camerota said she was embarrassed and did not report the incident. And after rebuffing Ailes’ alleged advances, Camerota said she was subjected to “emotional harassment” because “he thought that I wasn’t reflecting the conservative agenda.” “Roger Ailes ruled with an iron fist, and he wanted us all to fall in line and have his world view and say the things that he wanted us to say on Fox News,” Camerota said. “He said, ‘There is no other side.’ In Roger’s world view, there was no other side. Liberals were always wrong, conservatives were generally right, and that’s what he felt that we should be reflecting on the air.” “Mr. Ailes never engaged in the inappropriate conversations she now claims occurred,” Estrich said in a statement to CNN. “And he vigorously denies this fictional account of her interactions with him and of Fox News editorial policy.” Fox dropped O’Reilly from the network on Wednesday following the public revelation earlier this month that Fox News and O’Reilly had paid five women who had accused him of inappropriate behavior over $13 million in settlements, leading to an exodus of more than 50 advertisers from his top-rated primetime show. O’Reilly called the claims that resulted in his departure from Fox News “unfounded.” “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims,” he said in a statement. “But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.” The drumbeat of accusations at Fox News began with a resounding thump last summer, when former host Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes. Carlson alleged she had been fired by Ailes after refusing to have sex with him. Ailes later resigned after an internal investigation turned up harassment claims from more women, including former Fox News star Megyn Kelly. In a memo to 21st Century Fox staff explaining O’Reilly’s exit, owners Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch said they wanted “to underscore our consistent commitment to fostering a work environment built on the values of trust and respect.” That is, in part, why Camerota said she is going public with her allegations now. “It feels as though, if I take the Murdochs at their word, they really want to know what was wrong there and what the culture was like,” Camerota said. “I think that there was a lot of suffering in silence and people who felt humiliated and people who felt scared and people who felt intimidated.”
News Article | April 20, 2017
The controversial Fox News host Bill O’Reilly has been dropped from the network after allegations of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment, in a development that could have significant implications for the Murdoch empire on both sides of the Atlantic. Ofcom, the British media regulator, is considering whether 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, is a “fit and proper” owner of pay-TV broadcaster Sky. Campaigners say the allegations against O’Reilly should alarm the watchdog, which can recommend that the government blocks 21st Century Fox’s £11.7bn bid for the 61% of Sky that it does not already own. Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan are the joint executive chairs of 21st Century Fox while James Murdoch, Rupert’s other son, is chief executive. Maggie Chao at campaign group 38 Degrees, which opposes the Sky deal, said: “There’s a mountain of evidence that the Murdochs are not fit or proper to own Sky. The recent allegations of sexual harassment at Fox News in the US are just another reason to doubt whether the Murdochs can be trusted to control even more of the UK’s media. “Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK already don’t think they should be trusted. If Ofcom’s alarm bells weren’t ringing already, they certainly should be now.” O’Reilly had been an anchor on Fox News since 1996 and was the most-watched host on cable television in the US. However, the New York Times revealed earlier this month that O’Reilly and 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, have paid out about $13m (£10.1m) to settle allegations from five women about inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment. More women have subsequently come forward with allegations against O’Reilly. The scandal has led to dozens of companies pulling adverts from Fox News and protesters targeting the Fox News headquarters. It has also triggered an internal investigation conducted by the same New York law firm that looked into sexual harassment allegations that ultimately forced out Roger Ailes, the founding chair of Fox News, last year. Lisa Bloom, an attorney who is representing women who have made allegations against O’Reilly, has made a direct link between the scandal and 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky by writing to Ofcom to protest about the deal. In the letter Bloom accused Fox News of having an “utter disregard for the rights of women” and creating a “toxic culture”. She added: “Fox’s failure to intervene to protect the rights of its female journalists, its secret payouts, and use of intimidation tactics are reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid phone-hacking scandal in 2011, when it emerged that News of the World reporters had hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. “The similarities between the current harassment scandal and the phone-hacking scandal reveal the company’s approach to business and management – a lack of oversight, intervention, and decency.” Tom Watson, the deputy Labour party leader and the shadow culture, media, and sport secretary, urged Ofcom to consider the O’Reilly scandal as part of its investigation into whether 21st Century Fox is a fit and proper owner of Sky. “The conduct of senior executives at Fox and their consistent failure to meet corporate governance standards in the recent past has a direct bearing on whether it is a suitable owner of one of the UK’s most powerful broadcasters,” he said. Karen Bradley, the culture, media and sport secretary, has indicated that she expects Ofcom to look into the corporate governance of the Murdochs’ companies. In a letter to 21st Century Fox and Sky last month Bradley’s department said she wanted Ofcom to look at whether the “culture or corporate governance” at 21st Century Fox explained why the services it operated, such as Fox News, had proportionately breached the broadcasting code more than Sky. The letter also referred to the “huge failings of corporate governance at the News of the World and its parent, News Corporation” during the phone hacking scandal. Ofcom is scheduled to make a decision before 16 May. The Murdochs’ previous bid for Sky was scrapped in 2011 when the phone hacking scandal was at its peak. Since then, the family has restructured its empire. The publishing businesses, including the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times in the UK, were spun into a company called News Corp while the entertainment arm, including Fox News and the film studios, was spun into 21st Century Fox. However, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch remain co-chairs of both businesses, while James Murdoch is on the board of News Corp as well as being the 21st Century Fox chair. The decision by 21st Century Fox to force out O’Reilly could appease Ofcom and critics of the Sky deal. In the past Rupert Murdoch has stood by high-profile employees when they have faced heavy public criticism, including Rebekah Brooks, who was appointed chief executive of News UK, the UK arm of News Corp, after being found not guilty of phone-hacking charges, and Kelvin MacKenzie, the controversial former editor of the Sun. MacKenzie was suspended as a columnist by the Sun last week after comparing the Everton footballer Ross Barkley, whose grandfather is Nigerian, to a gorilla and writing that the only other men in Liverpool who are paid £60,000 a week are drug dealers. MacKenzie was already a contentious figure in Liverpool because of the Sun’s coverage of the Hillsborough disaster while he was editor. In a statement about the proposed Sky deal, 21st Century Fox said it “takes its regulatory and compliance obligations very seriously”. It added: “We have a strong record of compliance in all our markets, including in the UK. “We are confident that our proposed transaction to acquire the outstanding shares of Sky that we don’t already own will be approved following a thorough review by regulators.”
News Article | April 21, 2017
An investigation by the UK media regulator into Rupert Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover of Sky has been delayed until after the general election. Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, was set to receive the findings of two Ofcom investigations, examining whether the takeover gives Murdoch too much control of UK news media and whether he is a “fit and proper” owner, by 16 May. Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election on 8 June means the deadline has now been extended to 20 June. Under government rules governing “purdah” – the period immediately before elections, which in this case is due to start at midnight on 21 April – Bradley is not allowed to make a decision on the report. “Given the proximity of this decision to the forthcoming general election and following discussions with the parties, Ofcom, the Competition and Markets Authority and the Cabinet Office propriety and ethics team I wrote to Ofcom and the CMA on Friday 21 April to extend the period by which these reports should be submitted to Tuesday 20 June,” said Bradley. According to the Cabinet Office’s guidance to ministers and civil servants, “large and/or contentious [decisions] on which a new government might be expected to want the opportunity to take a different view from the present government, should be postponed until after the election”. After Bradley receives Ofcom’s report she will have to decide whether to refer 21st Century Fox’s bid to takeover the 61% of Sky it does not already own to the competition authorities for further scrutiny. During Murdoch’s previous bid in 2010, which was scrapped because of the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed his UK newspapers, the then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt accepted an offer to spin off Sky News to allay the media plurality issues Ofcom raised. This time round James Murdoch, the chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky, has said that he does not believe that the company will need to make any meaningful concessions to complete the takeover. Critics say that the bid raises plurality issues because it will give Fox News owner Murdoch control of Sky, which owns Sky News, operations in Germany and Italy and UK newspapers including the Sun and Times. The UK newspapers are owned through News Corp, a separate company which was set up after the previous bid was aborted as the home of Murdoch’s global newspaper and publishing assets. Opponents also say that the phone-hacking scandal – and more recent revelations about impropriety at Fox News that resulted in the departure of its top executive Roger Ailes and separately the broadcaster Bill O’Reilly – mean that Fox is not “fit and proper” to own a UK broadcasting licence for Sky. “With scandal engulfing Fox in the US and the history of phone hacking in Britain, the government knows the Murdoch brand is politically toxic,” said Bert Wander, director at campaigning group Avaaz. “Ofcom should use the extra time to consider new evidence of why the Murdochs are not fit to own Sky.” Murdoch’s £11.7bn bid was cleared by the European competition regulator earlier this month. “We are confident that a thorough review of our track record over 30 years will underscore our commitment to upholding high broadcast standards, and will demonstrate that the transaction will not result in there being insufficient plurality in the UK,” a spokeswoman for Fox said.
News Article | May 8, 2017
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--News Corp announced today that Marc Frons has been appointed Chief Technology Officer. He has served in that role in an interim capacity since October 2016. Latha Maripuri, who currently serves as News Corp’s Chief Information Security Officer, and Christina Scott, Chief Technology Officer for News UK, have both been promoted to Deputy Chief Technology Officer positions, while retaining their existing responsibilities. “This tech triumvirate will ensure that News Corp and our businesses are at the forefront of technological change,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp. “In his time as interim CTO, Marc has effectively and speedily advanced our digital transformation across the companies. Whether it involves enterprise software, cybersecurity or mobile apps, Marc, Latha and Christina have the expertise and leadership skills we need to expedite the digital development of our news, publishing, real estate and other enterprises.” “News Corp is today home to some of the world’s leading news, publishing and digital real estate businesses,” said Mr. Frons. “The tech transformation underway across the company is exciting and rewarding for all of us who work here, and all who benefit from the creative products delivered digitally to millions every day. Latha, Christina and I look forward to working collaboratively with our colleagues around the globe and around the clock to ensure that our technology is second to none.” Marc Frons joined News Corp in 2015 as Senior Vice President and Global Head of Mobile Platform and Deputy Head of Technology. He was named Interim Chief Technology Officer after Paul Cheesbrough left News Corp to become Chief Technology Officer at 21st Century Fox. Previously, Mr. Frons was Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer of Digital at The New York Times Co. In the early 2000s, he was Chief Technology Officer of Consumer Media at Dow Jones & Co. He also worked as a journalist at several publications, including Newsweek and Business Week. At Smartmoney.com, he was Editor and Chief Technology Officer. Latha Maripuri has been CISO at News Corp since 2015, when she joined the company from IBM, where she served as Director of IBM Security Services. She began her career at IBM in 1998. Christina Scott joined News UK as CTO in 2016. She was formerly with the Financial Times, and previously worked on the technology teams of the BBC and ITV Digital, among other companies. News Corporation (NASDAQ:NWS) (NASDAQ:NWSA) (ASX:NWS) (ASX:NWSLV) is a global, diversified media and information services company focused on creating and distributing authoritative and engaging content to consumers throughout the world. The company comprises businesses across a range of media, including: news and information services, book publishing, digital real estate services, and cable network programming and pay-TV distribution in Australia. Headquartered in New York, the activities of News Corp are conducted primarily in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. More information: http://www.newscorp.com.
News Article | May 4, 2017
When: Pre-Institute Family Business Governance Institute – May 9 Global Institute Daytime sessions – May 10-11 Visionary Awards Dinner – evening of May 10 Theme: "The New Era of Deglobalization: Navigating the Unpredictable" Why: Globalization is being increasingly challenged – and even resisted – around the world. What does this mean for global markets, talent, and capital flows? How are boards guiding their companies amid uncertainty about the very future of globalization? The WCD Global Institute covers these themes, as well as issues around corporate culture and "tone at the top" – where many companies have seen their failures covered widely across traditional and social media. The program also features an in-depth discussion with Alaska Air President and CEO Bradley Tilden and director Marion Blakey (President & CEO, Rolls Royce North America, Inc.), as well as directors and C-suite officers from GE, AT&T, News Corp., The Coca-Cola Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, Intel Capital, Tata Communications, and other top global organizations. Additionally, the Institute will present the new WCD Thought Leadership Commission report, "The Visionary Board at Work: Developing a Culture of Leadership." Created in conjunction with Pearl Meyer, WCD's fourth annual TLC report provides a guide for aligning organizational culture and leadership development with a company's business strategy. In a special pre-Institute day of programming, WCD is hosting its Family Business Governance Institute, designed for women CEOs, directors, and shareholders of family businesses with revenues >$100 million. The Visionary Awards will honor Alaska Air, Ecolab, Duchossois Group, and Isabelle Marcoux, chair of the board of Transcontinental, Inc. Media credentials To apply for media credentials to cover this event, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or email@example.com. About the WCD Foundation Global Institute The WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation (WCD) 2017 Global Institute is an unprecedented opportunity for global board directors to share corporate governance and business strategies and to build partnerships with a purpose, in a private, invitation-only setting. The Institute is a high-powered idea forum exploring compelling issues on the minds of today's board directors and their companies. Sponsors of WCD, the Global Institute, and the Visionary Awards include: KPMG (Global Institute Lead Sponsor and Global Lead Sponsor); Spencer Stuart (Global Executive Sponsor); Vinson & Elkins (Global Strategic Sponsor); The Coca-Cola Company (Global Institute Leader Sponsor); JPMorgan Chase & Co. (Global Institute Benefactor and Supporting Sponsor); Pearl Meyer (Global Institute Host Sponsor and Strategic Sponsor); Latham & Watkins (Global Institute Host Sponsor and Strategic Sponsor); Henri Bendel (Global Institute Sip and Shop Host Sponsor); Sullivan & Cromwell (Global Institute Host); IFC (Global Institute Supporter); Marriott (Global Institute Supporter); Marsh & McLennan (Global Institute Supporter); The Center for Audit Quality (Global Institute Supporter); and Equilar (Global Institute Sponsor). To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/what-deglobalization-means-for-companies-and-their-markets-capital-and-talent--board-leaders-to-convene-at-2017-womencorporatedirectors-global-institute-in-new-york-may-9-11-300451816.html
News Article | May 5, 2017
One of the women accusing former Fox News presenter Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment is to meet Ofcom next week, as the growing scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s US media empire threatens its proposed takeover of Sky in Europe. Wendy Walsh, a former guest on Fox’s top-rating The O’Reilly Factor, alleges that the TV host reneged on a job offer after she declined to join him in his hotel suite. The psychologist and radio host claims that after she declined the invitation she lost her regular segment on Fox. Walsh and Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing Walsh and other women who have made allegations against O’Reilly, are to meet the UK media regulator on Monday. Walsh is one of five women who have accused O’Reilly of inappropriate behaviour and have since settled with the company. The regulator is investigating whether Murdoch’s £11.7bn takeover of Sky would give him too much control of UK news media and whether or not he is a “fit and proper” owner. Bloom wrote to Ofcom last month, linking the scandal at 21st Century Fox and the bid to take over the 61% of Sky that Murdoch doesn’t already own. In the letter Bloom accused Fox News of having an “utter disregard for the rights of women” and creating a “toxic culture”. She said: “Fox’s failure to intervene to protect the rights of its female journalists, its secret payouts, and use of intimidation tactics are reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid phone-hacking scandal in 2011, when it emerged that News of the World reporters had hacked the voicemail of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. “The similarities between the current harassment scandal and the phone-hacking scandal reveal the company’s approach to business and management – a lack of oversight, intervention and decency.” Clark and Bloom’s meeting with Ofcom comes as allegations of sexual and racial discrimination at 21st Century Fox deepen. A lawyer representing 20 victims of alleged gender and race discrimination and harassment at Fox News has also been invited for talks with Ofcom next Thursday after writing to the media regulator about 21st Century Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky. Douglas Wigdor, a partner at law firm Wigdor, said: “I am pleased that Ofcom has invited me to appear in London next week on behalf of our 20 clients and look forward to sharing the information that I have come to learn about 21st Century Fox through the dedicated men and women that I am privileged to represent.” On Monday, Bill Shine, the network’s co-president and a long-time lieutenant of the ousted chief executive Roger Ailes, left the company. His departure follows the exits of O’Reilly and Ailes, both amid charges that they harassed women. Shine was not accused of harassment, but there were questions over what he knew about the network’s workplace atmosphere. In the UK, senior politicians, including the former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the ex-business secretary Vince Cable, have been outspoken critics of Murdoch’s proposed takeover. Ofcom is due to report to the government on two Sky investigations by 20 June. During its investigation after Murdoch’s previous attempt to take over Sky in 2010, which was derailed by the phone-hacking scandal, Ofcom found that Sky remained a fit and proper owner of a broadcast licence. However, it published a scathing assessment of James Murdoch, the then chief executive of his father’s UK newspaper group and chair of Sky, finding that his conduct had repeatedly fallen short of the standards expected. The political fallout ultimately resulted in Rupert Murdoch withdrawing his bid and James Murdoch standing down as chairman of Sky and quitting the UK newspaper business to run Fox, the film and TV operation, from the US. James Murdoch is now chief executive of Fox and chair of Sky. After the failure of the previous bid, Rupert Murdoch spun off the publishing and newspaper assets into a separate company, News Corp, and film and TV into 21st Century Fox, with independent boards, in part as a corporate governance measure to facilitate another tilt at Sky. In a letter sent to the culture secretary, Karen Bradley, during the 10-day period she had to review whether to refer the bid to Ofcom, Fox argued that in the six years since the aborted bid, the media landscape had changed beyond recognition. It said media plurality was flourishing with the rise of digital rivals, such as Google and Facebook and news distributors, and new outlets, such as Vice, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post, while newspaper sales declined. Fox also argues that splitting the publishing and TV and film operations into two companies solves corporate governance, competition and plurality issues. A spokesman for 21st Century Fox said: “21CF has taken prompt and decisive action to address allegations of sexual harassment and workplace issues at Fox News.”
News Article | May 8, 2017
BALA CYNWYD, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Entercom Communications (NYSE: ETM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017. David J. Field, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated: “I am very pleased with our progress on all fronts as we continue to plan and prepare for our transformational merger with CBS Radio. This will truly be a game-changing event for Entercom as we will achieve a number of scale-related benefits, including the ability to compete far more effectively against other media for a larger share of advertising spending. First quarter revenues increased 1.4%, down about 1% on a same-station basis ex-political. We experienced a highly unusual degree of large one-time only expenses during the quarter (including the return of a station license in Sacramento, CBS transaction costs and our CFO transition), that drove expenses significantly higher. Looking ahead to the completion of the merger with CBS, we expect synergies that will drive margin expansion.” On February 2, 2017, the Company announced an agreement to combine with CBS Radio in a tax-free, all stock transaction. The merger will make Entercom a leading local media and entertainment company with a nationwide footprint of stations, including positions in all of the top 10 markets and 23 of the top 25 markets. Based on Entercom’s current stock price, the combined company will have a pro forma equity value of approximately $1.6 billion and the strongest balance sheet of any of the major radio groups. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will be led by David J. Field, Entercom’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Additional information concerning the proposed CBS merger can be found in the Company’s SEC Form S-4 filing on April 12, 2017. First quarter results include a non-cash $13.5 write-down related to the relinquishment of an FM license in Sacramento to the FCC in order to facilitate the CBS transaction and $10.3 million in merger and acquisition costs related to the CBS transaction, which were primarily for legal and financial advisory services. In addition, the Company’s first quarter GAAP tax rate was higher than normal due to the non-deductibility of certain M&A related expenses. On January 6, 2017, the Company completed an acquisition of four stations in Charlotte, NC from Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc. (“Beasley”) for $24 million in cash. The Company commenced operations for three of the stations, The Link (WLNK-FM) and news/talk leader WBT AM/FM, on November 1, 2016 under a time brokerage agreement (“TBA”) and the fourth station, The Fan (WFNZ-AM), upon the closing on January 6, 2017. Operating results for the three stations operated under the TBA were included in the Company’s results for the full quarter and results for The Fan beginning January 7th. As of March 31, 2017, the Company had outstanding $465.0 million of senior debt under its credit facilities and $27.7 million in perpetual cumulative convertible preferred stock. In addition the Company had $4.7 million in cash on hand. On March 2, 2017, CBS Radio priced a new $500 million term loan B that will be drawn when the Entercom and CBS Radio transaction closes and will be used to refinance Entercom’s existing credit facility, its perpetual cumulative convertible preferred stock, to pay fees and expenses and for general corporate purposes. The new term loan will bear interest at a rate of LIBOR plus 2.75%, with no floor, and will be issued at par. On March 22, 2017, the Company announced the appointment of Richard J. Schmaeling as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective April 18, 2017. Rich is a proven public company CFO with deep media expertise and hands-on leadership experience of the successful integrations for the LIN Media/Media General and Dow Jones/News Corp mergers. On May 2, 2017, Mike Dee, an accomplished executive with over 20 years of leadership experience with some of the most respected organizations in the world of sports, joined the Company in the newly created position of President of Entercom Sports. Mike will be responsible for elevating the Company’s position as a leading sports media partner in support of the Company’s expansive suite of local sports radio stations and personalities and sports play-by-play relationships. Entercom will hold a conference call regarding the quarterly earnings release on Monday May 8, 2017 at 10:00 AM Eastern Time. Investors will have the opportunity to submit questions to the Company regarding the earnings release by emailing their inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions should be sent at least 10 minutes prior to the call. The Company will only discuss inquiries made by email prior to the conference call. The public may access the conference call by dialing 888-889-0278 (passcode: Entercom). A replay of the conference call will be available and can be accessed either by dialing 866-452-2106 or by visiting the Company’s website: www.entercom.com. Additional information and reconciliation of same station results are available on the Company’s website at www.entercom.com. All references to per share data, unless stated otherwise, are presented as per diluted share. All references to shares outstanding, unless stated otherwise, are presented to exclude unvested restricted stock units. All references to net debt are outstanding debt net of cash on hand. Station Operating Income consists of operating income (loss) before: depreciation and amortization; time brokerage agreement fees (income); corporate general and administrative expenses; non-cash compensation expense (which is otherwise included in station operating expenses); impairment loss; merger and acquisition costs, other expenses related to the refinancing and non-recurring expenses recognized for restructuring charges or similar costs, including transition and integration costs; and gain or loss on sale or disposition of assets. Adjusted EBITDA consists of net income (loss) available to common shareholders, adjusted to exclude: income taxes (benefit); total other expense; depreciation and amortization; time brokerage agreement fees (income); non-cash compensation expense (which is otherwise included in station operating expenses and corporate G&A expenses); impairment loss, merger and acquisition costs, preferred stock dividends and non-recurring expense recognized for restructuring charges or similar costs, including transition and integration costs, and gain or loss on sale or disposition of assets. Free Cash Flow consists of operating income (loss): (i) plus depreciation and amortization, net (gain) loss on sale or disposal of assets; non-cash compensation expense (which is otherwise included in station operating expenses and corporate general and administrative expenses), impairment loss; merger and acquisition costs, other expenses related to the refinancing, loss on extinguishment of debt, other income and non-recurring expenses recognized for restructuring charges or similar costs, including transition and integration costs; and (ii) less net interest expense (excluding amortization of deferred financing costs), preferred stock dividends, taxes paid and capital expenditures. Adjusted Net Income (Loss) consists of net income (loss) available to common shareholders adjusted to exclude: (i) income taxes (benefit) as reported; (ii) gain/loss on sale of assets, derivative instruments and investments; (iii) non-cash compensation expense; (iv) other income; (v) impairment loss; (vi) merger and acquisition costs, other expenses related to the refinancing, loss on extinguishment of debt and non-recurring expenses recognized for restructuring charges or similar costs, including transition and integration costs; and (vii) gain/loss on early extinguishment of debt. For purposes of comparability, income taxes are reflected at the expected statutory federal and state income tax rate of 40% without discrete items of tax. Adjusted Net Income Per Share includes any dilutive equivalent shares when not anti-dilutive. Convertible Preferred Stock is treated as if it never converted for the purposes of Adjusted Net Income Per Share. It is important to note that station operating income, station expense, corporate expense, same station net revenues, same station expenses, same station operating income, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted Net Income, Adjusted Net Income Per Share and Free Cash Flow are not measures of performance or liquidity calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”). Management believes that these measures are useful as a way to evaluate the Company and the means for management to evaluate our radio stations’ performance and operations. Management believes that these measures are useful to an investor in evaluating our performance because they are widely used in the broadcast industry as a measure of a radio company’s operating performance. Certain adjusted non-GAAP financial measures are presented in this release (e.g., Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Net Income Per Share). The adjustments exclude gain/loss on sale of assets, derivative instruments, and investments; non-cash compensation expense, other income, impairment loss, merger and acquisition costs, other expenses related to the refinancing, and gain/loss on early extinguishment of debt and non-recurring expenses recognized for restructuring charges or similar costs, including transition and integration costs. For purposes of comparability income taxes are reflected at the expected federal and state income tax rate of 40% without adjustment for discrete tax adjustments. Management believes these adjusted non-GAAP measures provide useful information to Management and investors by excluding certain income, expenses and gains and losses that may not be indicative of the Company’s core operating and financial results. Similarly, Management believes these adjusted measures are a useful performance measure because certain items included in the calculation of net income (loss) may either mask or exaggerate trends in the Company’s ongoing operating performance. Further, the reconciliations corresponding to these adjusted measures, by identifying the individual adjustments, provide a useful mechanism for investors to consider these adjusted measures with some or all of the identified adjustments. Management uses these non-GAAP financial measures on an ongoing basis to help track and assess the Company's financial performance. You, however, should not consider non-GAAP measures in isolation or as substitutes for net income (loss), operating income, or any other measure for determining our operating performance that is calculated in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. These non-GAAP measures are not necessarily comparable to similarly titled measures employed by other companies. The accompanying financial tables provide reconciliations to the nearest GAAP measure of all non-GAAP measures provided in this release. The information in this news release is being widely disseminated in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Commission's Regulation FD. This news announcement contains certain forward-looking statements that are based upon current expectations and certain unaudited pro forma information that is presented for illustrative purposes only and involves certain risks and uncertainties within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Additional information and key risks are described in the Company’s filings on Forms S-4, 8-K, 10-Q and 10-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Readers should note that these statements might be impacted by several factors including changes in the economic and regulatory climate and the business of radio broadcasting, in general. The unaudited pro forma information and same station operating data reflect adjustments and are presented for comparative purposes only and do not purport to be indicative of what has occurred or indicative of future operating results or financial position. Accordingly, the Company’s actual performance may differ materially from those stated or implied herein. The Company assumes no obligation to publicly update or revise any unaudited pro forma or forward-looking statements. Entercom Communications Corp. (NYSE: ETM) is the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the U.S., reaching and engaging more than 40 million people a week through its portfolio of highly rated stations in top markets across the country. Entercom is a purpose-driven company, deeply committed to entertaining and informing its listeners with the best locally curated music, news, sports, and talk content, driven by compelling local personalities. Entercom delivers superior ROI by connecting its customers and audiences through its leading local brands and unparalleled local marketing solutions, which include over 4,000 events each year, and its SmartReach Digital product suite. Learn more about Philadelphia-based Entercom at www.Entercom.com, Facebook and Twitter (@Entercom).
News Article | May 7, 2017
“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.” Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016 “It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?” Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017 In June 2013, a young American postgraduate called Sophie was passing through London when she called up the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned. “That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.” Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.” Why would anyone want to intern with a psychological warfare firm, I ask him. And he looks at me like I am mad. “It was like working for MI6. Only it’s MI6 for hire. It was very posh, very English, run by an old Etonian and you got to do some really cool things. Fly all over the world. You were working with the president of Kenya or Ghana or wherever. It’s not like election campaigns in the west. You got to do all sorts of crazy shit.” On that day in June 2013, Sophie met up with SCL’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, and gave him the germ of an idea. “She said, ‘You really need to get into data.’ She really drummed it home to Alexander. And she suggested he meet this firm that belonged to someone she knew about through her father.” “Yes. And she suggested Alexander should meet this company called Palantir.” I had been speaking to former employees of Cambridge Analytica for months and heard dozens of hair-raising stories, but it was still a gobsmacking moment. To anyone concerned about surveillance, Palantir is practically now a trigger word. The data-mining firm has contracts with governments all over the world – including GCHQ and the NSA. It’s owned by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of eBay and PayPal, who became Silicon Valley’s first vocal supporter of Trump. In some ways, Eric Schmidt’s daughter showing up to make an introduction to Palantir is just another weird detail in the weirdest story I have ever researched. A weird but telling detail. Because it goes to the heart of why the story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. Sophie Schmidt now works for another Silicon Valley megafirm: Uber. And what’s clear is that the power and dominance of the Silicon Valley – Google and Facebook and a small handful of others – are at the centre of the global tectonic shift we are currently witnessing. It also reveals a critical and gaping hole in the political debate in Britain. Because what is happening in America and what is happening in Britain are entwined. Brexit and Trump are entwined. The Trump administration’s links to Russia and Britain are entwined. And Cambridge Analytica is one point of focus through which we can see all these relationships in play; it also reveals the elephant in the room as we hurtle into a general election: Britain tying its future to an America that is being remade - in a radical and alarming way - by Trump. There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future. My entry point into this story began, as so many things do, with a late-night Google. Last December, I took an unsettling tumble into a wormhole of Google autocomplete suggestions that ended with “did the holocaust happen”. And an entire page of results that claimed it didn’t. Google’s algorithm had been gamed by extremist sites and it was Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who helped me get to grips with what I was seeing. He was the first person to map and uncover an entire “alt-right” news and information ecosystem and he was the one who first introduced me to Cambridge Analytica. He called the company a central point in the right’s “propaganda machine”, a line I quoted in reference to its work for the Trump election campaign and the referendum Leave campaign. That led to the second article featuring Cambridge Analytica – as a central node in the alternative news and information network that I believed Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon, the key Trump aide who is now his chief strategist, were creating. I found evidence suggesting they were on a strategic mission to smash the mainstream media and replace it with one comprising alternative facts, fake history and rightwing propaganda. Mercer is a brilliant computer scientist, a pioneer in early artificial intelligence, and the co-owner of one of the most successful hedge funds on the planet (with a gravity-defying 71.8% annual return). And, he is also, I discovered, good friends with Nigel Farage. Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director, told me that it was Mercer who had directed his company, Cambridge Analytica, to “help” the Leave campaign. The second article triggered two investigations, which are both continuing: one by the Information Commissioner’s Office into the possible illegal use of data. And a second by the Electoral Commission which is “focused on whether one or more donations – including services – accepted by Leave.EU was ‘impermissable’”. What I then discovered is that Mercer’s role in the referendum went far beyond this. Far beyond the jurisdiction of any UK law. The key to understanding how a motivated and determined billionaire could bypass ourelectoral laws rests on AggregateIQ, an obscure web analytics company based in an office above a shop in Victoria, British Columbia. It was with AggregateIQ that Vote Leave (the official Leave campaign) chose to spend £3.9m, more than half its official £7m campaign budget. As did three other affiliated Leave campaigns: BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the Democratic Unionist party, spending a further £757,750. “Coordination” between campaigns is prohibited under UK electoral law, unless campaign expenditure is declared, jointly. It wasn’t. Vote Leave says the Electoral Commission “looked into this” and gave it “a clean bill of health”. How did an obscure Canadian company come to play such a pivotal role in Brexit? It’s a question that Martin Moore, director of the centre for the study of communication, media and power at King’s College London has been asking too. “I went through all the Leave campaign invoices when the Electoral Commission uploaded them to its site in February. And I kept on discovering all these huge amounts going to a company that not only had I never heard of, but that there was practically nothing at all about on the internet. More money was spent with AggregateIQ than with any other company in any other campaign in the entire referendum. All I found, at that time, was a one-page website and that was it. It was an absolute mystery.” Moore contributed to an LSE report published in April that concluded UK’s electoral laws were “weak and helpless” in the face of new forms of digital campaigning. Offshore companies, money poured into databases, unfettered third parties… the caps on spending had come off. The laws that had always underpinned Britain’s electoral laws were no longer fit for purpose. Laws, the report said, that needed “urgently reviewing by parliament”. AggregateIQ holds the key to unravelling another complicated network of influence that Mercer has created. A source emailed me to say he had found that AggregateIQ’s address and telephone number corresponded to a company listed on Cambridge Analytica’s website as its overseas office: “SCL Canada”. A day later, that online reference vanished. There had to be a connection between the two companies. Between the various Leave campaigns. Between the referendum and Mercer. It was too big a coincidence. But everyone – AggregateIQ, Cambridge Analytica, Leave.EU, Vote Leave – denied it. AggregateIQ had just been a short-term “contractor” to Cambridge Analytica. There was nothing to disprove this. We published the known facts. On 29 March, article 50 was triggered. Then I meet Paul, the first of two sources formerly employed by Cambridge Analytica. He is in his late 20s and bears mental scars from his time there. “It’s almost like post-traumatic shock. It was so… messed up. It happened so fast. I just woke up one morning and found we’d turned into the Republican fascist party. I still can’t get my head around it.” He laughed when I told him the frustrating mystery that was AggregateIQ. “Find Chris Wylie,” he said. “He’s the one who brought data and micro-targeting [individualised political messages] to Cambridge Analytica. And he’s from west Canada. It’s only because of him that AggregateIQ exist. They’re his friends. He’s the one who brought them in.” There wasn’t just a relationship between Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ, Paul told me. They were intimately entwined, key nodes in Robert Mercer’s distributed empire. “The Canadians were our back office. They built our software for us. They held our database. If AggregateIQ is involved then Cambridge Analytica is involved. And if Cambridge Analytica is involved, then Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon are involved. You need to find Chris Wylie.” I did find Chris Wylie. He refused to comment. Key to understanding how data would transform the company is knowing where it came from. And it’s a letter from “Director of Defence Operations, SCL Group”, that helped me realise this. It’s from “Commander Steve Tatham, PhD, MPhil, Royal Navy (rtd)” complaining about my use in my Mercer article of the word “disinformation”. I wrote back to him pointing out references in papers he’d written to “deception” and “propaganda”, which I said I understood to be “roughly synonymous with ‘disinformation’.” It’s only later that it strikes me how strange it is that I’m corresponding with a retired navy commander about military strategies that may have been used in British and US elections. What’s been lost in the US coverage of this “data analytics” firm is the understanding of where the firm came from: deep within the military-industrial complex. A weird British corner of it populated, as the military establishment in Britain is, by old-school Tories. Geoffrey Pattie, a former parliamentary under-secretary of state for defence procurement and director of Marconi Defence Systems, used to be on the board, and Lord Marland, David Cameron’s pro-Brexit former trade envoy, a shareholder. Steve Tatham was the head of psychological operations for British forces in Afghanistan. The Observer has seen letters endorsing him from the UK Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Office and Nato. SCL/Cambridge Analytica was not some startup created by a couple of guys with a Mac PowerBook. It’s effectively part of the British defence establishment. And, now, too, the American defence establishment. An ex-commanding officer of the US Marine Corps operations centre, Chris Naler, has recently joined Iota Global, a partner of the SCL group. This is not just a story about social psychology and data analytics. It has to be understood in terms of a military contractor using military strategies on a civilian population. Us. David Miller, a professor of sociology at Bath University and an authority in psyops and propaganda, says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy. It should be clear to voters where information is coming from, and if it’s not transparent or open where it’s coming from, it raises the question of whether we are actually living in a democracy or not.” Paul and David, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee, were working at the firm when it introduced mass data-harvesting to its psychological warfare techniques. “It brought psychology, propaganda and technology together in this powerful new way,” David tells me. And it was Facebook that made it possible. It was from Facebook that Cambridge Analytica obtained its vast dataset in the first place. Earlier, psychologists at Cambridge University harvested Facebook data (legally) for research purposes and published pioneering peer-reviewed work about determining personality traits, political partisanship, sexuality and much more from people’s Facebook “likes”. And SCL/Cambridge Analytica contracted a scientist at the university, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, to harvest new Facebook data. And he did so by paying people to take a personality quiz which also allowed not just their own Facebook profiles to be harvested, but also those of their friends – a process then allowed by the social network. Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale. The company also (perfectly legally) bought consumer datasets – on everything from magazine subscriptions to airline travel – and uniquely it appended these with the psych data to voter files. It matched all this information to people’s addresses, their phone numbers and often their email addresses. “The goal is to capture every single aspect of every voter’s information environment,” said David. “And the personality data enabled Cambridge Analytica to craft individual messages.” Finding “persuadable” voters is key for any campaign and with its treasure trove of data, Cambridge Analytica could target people high in neuroticism, for example, with images of immigrants “swamping” the country. The key is finding emotional triggers for each individual voter. Cambridge Analytica worked on campaigns in several key states for a Republican political action committee. Its key objective, according to a memo the Observer has seen, was “voter disengagement” and “to persuade Democrat voters to stay at home”: a profoundly disquieting tactic. It has previously been claimed that suppression tactics were used in the campaign, but this document provides the first actual evidence. But does it actually work? One of the criticisms that has been levelled at my and others’ articles is that Cambridge Analytica’s “special sauce” has been oversold. Is what it is doing any different from any other political consultancy? “It’s not a political consultancy,” says David. “You have to understand this is not a normal company in any way. I don’t think Mercer even cares if it ever makes any money. It’s the product of a billionaire spending huge amounts of money to build his own experimental science lab, to test what works, to find tiny slivers of influence that can tip an election. Robert Mercer did not invest in this firm until it ran a bunch of pilots – controlled trials. This is one of the smartest computer scientists in the world. He is not going to splash $15m on bullshit.” Tamsin Shaw, an associate professor of philosophy at New York University, helps me understand the context. She has researched the US military’s funding and use of psychological research for use in torture. “The capacity for this science to be used to manipulate emotions is very well established. This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see, don’t even realise is happening to them,” she says. “It’s about exploiting existing phenomenon like nationalism and then using it to manipulate people at the margins. To have so much data in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will is absolutely chilling. “We are in an information war and billionaires are buying up these companies, which are then employed to go to work in the heart of government. That’s a very worrying situation.” A project that Cambridge Analytica carried out in Trinidad in 2013 brings all the elements in this story together. Just as Robert Mercer began his negotiations with SCL boss Alexander Nix about an acquisition, SCL was retained by several government ministers in Trinidad and Tobago. The brief involved developing a micro-targeting programme for the governing party of the time. And AggregateIQ – the same company involved in delivering Brexit for Vote Leave – was brought in to build the targeting platform. David said: “The standard SCL/CA method is that you get a government contract from the ruling party. And this pays for the political work. So, it’s often some bullshit health project that’s just a cover for getting the minister re-elected. But in this case, our government contacts were with Trinidad’s national security council.” The security work was to be the prize for the political work. Documents seen by the Observer show that this was a proposal to capture citizens’ browsing history en masse, recording phone conversations and applying natural language processing to the recorded voice data to construct a national police database, complete with scores for each citizen on their propensity to commit crime. “The plan put to the minister was Minority Report. It was pre-crime. And the fact that Cambridge Analytica is now working inside the Pentagon is, I think, absolutely terrifying,” said David. These documents throw light on a significant and under-reported aspect of the Trump administration. The company that helped Trump achieve power in the first place has now been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the US state department. Its former vice-president Steve Bannon now sits in the White House. It is also reported to be in discussions for “military and homeland security work”. In the US, the government is bound by strict laws about what data it can collect on individuals. But, for private companies anything goes. Is it unreasonable to see in this the possible beginnings of an authoritarian surveillance state? A state that is bringing corporate interests into the heart of the administration. Documents detail Cambridge Analytica is involved with many other right-leaning billionaires, including Rupert Murdoch. One memo references Cambridge Analytica trying to place an article with a journalist in Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal: “RM re-channeled and connected with Jamie McCauley from Robert Thomson News Corp office,” it says. It makes me think again about the story involving Sophie Schmidt, Cambridge Analytica and Palantir. Is it a telling detail, or is it a clue to something else going on? Cambridge Analytica and Palantir both declined to comment for this article on whether they had any relationship. But witnesses and emails confirm that meetings between Cambridge Analytica and Palantir took place in 2013. The possibility of a working relationship was at least discussed. Further documents seen by the Observer confirm that at least one senior Palantir employee consulted with Cambridge Analytica in relation to the Trinidad project and later political work in the US. But at the time, I’m told, Palantir decided it was too much of a reputational risk for a more formal arrangement. There was no upside to it. Palantir is a company that is trusted to handle vast datasets on UK and US citizens for GCHQ and the NSA, as well as many other countries. Now though, they are both owned by ideologically aligned billionaires: Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel. The Trump campaign has said that Thiel helped it with data. A campaign that was led by Steve Bannon, who was then at Cambridge Analytica. A leading QC who spends a lot of time in the investigatory powers tribunal said that the problem with this technology was that it all depended on whose hands it was in. “On the one hand, it’s being done by companies and governments who say ‘you can trust us, we are good and democratic and bake cakes at the weekend’. But then the same expertise can also be sold on to whichever repressive regime.” In Britain, we still trust our government. We respect our authorities to uphold our laws. We trust the rule of law. We believe we live in a free and fair democracy. Which is what, I believe, makes the last part of this story so profoundly unsettling. The details of the Trinidad project finally unlocked the mystery that was AggregateIQ. Trinidad was SCL’s first project using big data for micro-targeting before the firm was acquired by Mercer. It was the model that Mercer was buying into. And it brought together all the players: the Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, AggregateIQ, Chris Wylie, and two other individuals who would play a role in this story: Mark Gettleson, a focus group expert who had previously worked for the Lib Dems. And Thomas Borwick, the son of Victoria Borwick, the Conservative MP for Kensington. When my article linking Mercer and Leave.EU was published in February, no one was more upset about it than former Tory adviser Dominic Cummings, the campaign strategist for Vote Leave. He launched an irate Twitter tirade. The piece was “full of errors & itself spreads disinformation” “CA had ~0% role in Brexit referendum”. A week later the Observer revealed AggregateIQ’s possible link to Cambridge Analytica. Cummings’s Twitter feed went quiet. He didn’t return my messages or my emails. Questions had already been swirling about whether there had been any coordination between the Leave campaigns. In the week before the referendum, Vote Leave donated money to two other Leave groups – £625,000 to BeLeave, run by fashion student Darren Grimes, and £100,000 to Veterans for Britain, who both then spent this money with AggregateIQ. The Electoral Commission has written to AggregateIQ. A source close to the investigation said that AggregateIQ responded by saying it had signed a non-disclosure agreement. And since it was outside British jurisdiction, that was the end of it. Vote Leave refers to this as the Electoral Commission giving it “a clean bill of health”. On his blog, Dominic Cummings has written thousands of words about the referendum campaign. What is missing is any details about his data scientists. He “hired physicists” is all he’ll say. In the books on Brexit, other members of the team talk about “Dom’s astrophysicists”, who he kept “a tightly guarded secret”. They built models, using data “scraped” off Facebook. Finally, after weeks of messages, he sent me an email. We were agreed on one thing, it turned out. He wrote: “The law/regulatory agencies are such a joke the reality is that anybody who wanted to cheat the law could do it easily without people realising.” But, he says, “by encouraging people to focus on non-stories like Mercer’s nonexistent role in the referendum you are obscuring these important issues”. And to finally answer the question about how Vote Leave found this obscure Canadian company on the other side of the planet, he wrote: “Someone found AIQ [AggregateIQ] on the internet and interviewed them on the phone then told me – let’s go with these guys. They were clearly more competent than any others we’d spoken to in London.” The most unfortunate aspect of this – for Dominic Cummings – is that this isn’t credible. It’s the work of moments to put a date filter on Google search and discover that in late 2015 or early 2016, there are no Google hits for “Aggregate IQ”. There is no press coverage. No random mentions. It doesn’t even throw up its website. I have caught Dominic Cummings in what appears to be an alternative fact. But what is an actual fact is that Gettleson and Borwick, both previously consultants for SCL and Cambridge Analytica, were both core members of the Vote Leave team. They’re both in the official Vote Leave documents lodged with the Electoral Commission, though they coyly describe their previous work for SCL/Cambridge Analytica as “micro-targeting in Antigua and Trinidad” and “direct communications for several PACs, Senate and Governor campaigns”. And Borwick wasn’t just any member of the team. He was Vote Leave’s chief technology officer. This story may involve a complex web of connections, but it all comes back to Cambridge Analytica. It all comes back to Mercer. Because the connections must have been evident. “AggregateIQ may not have belonged to the Mercers but they exist within his world,” David told me. “Almost all of their contracts came from Cambridge Analytica or Mercer. They wouldn’t exist without them. During the whole time the referendum was going on, they were working every day on the [Ted] Cruz campaign with Mercer and Cambridge Analytica. AggregateIQ built and ran Cambridge Analytica’s database platforms.” Cummings won’t say who did his modelling. But invoices lodged with the Electoral Commission show payments to a company called Advanced Skills Institute. It takes me weeks to spot the significance of this because the company is usually referred to as ASI Data Science, a company that has a revolving cast of data scientists who have gone on to work with Cambridge Analytica and vice versa. There are videos of ASI data scientists presenting Cambridge Analytica personality models and pages for events the two companies have jointly hosted. ASI told the Observer it had no formal relationship with Cambridge Analytica. Here’s the crucial fact: during the US primary elections, Aggregate IQ signed away its intellectual property (IP). It didn’t own its IP: Robert Mercer did. For AggregateIQ to work with another campaign in Britain, the firm would have to have had the express permission of Mercer. Asked if it would make any comment on financial or business links between “Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon, AggregateIQ, Leave.EU and Vote Leave”, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica said: “Cambridge Analytica did no paid or unpaid work for Leave.EU.” This story isn’t about cunning Dominic Cummings finding a few loopholes in the Electoral Commission’s rules. Finding a way to spend an extra million quid here. Or (as the Observer has also discovered )underdeclaring the costs of his physicists on the spending returns by £43,000. This story is not even about what appears to be covert coordination between Vote Leave and Leave.EU in their use of AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica. It’s about how a motivated US billionaire – Mercer and his chief ideologue, Bannon – helped to bring about the biggest constitutional change to Britain in a century. Because to understand where and how Brexit is connected to Trump, it’s right here. These relationships, which thread through the middle of Cambridge Analytica, are the result of a transatlantic partnership that stretches back years. Nigel Farage and Bannon have been close associates since at least 2012. Bannon opened the London arm of his news website Breitbart in 2014 to support Ukip – the latest front “in our current cultural and political war”, he told the New York Times. Britain had always been key to Bannon’s plans, another ex-Cambridge Analytica employee told me on condition of anonymity. It was a crucial part of his strategy for changing the entire world order. “He believes that to change politics, you have to first change the culture. And Britain was key to that. He thought that where Britain led, America would follow. The idea of Brexit was hugely symbolically important to him.” On 29 March, the day article 50 was triggered, I called one of the smaller campaigns, Veterans for Britain. Cummings’s strategy was to target people in the last days of the campaign and Vote Leave gave the smaller group £100,000 in the last week. A small number of people they identified as “persuadable” were bombarded with more than a billion ads, the vast majority in the last few days. I asked David Banks, Veterans for Britain’s head of communications, why they spent the money with AggregateIQ. “I didn’t find AggegrateIQ. They found us. They rang us up and pitched us. There’s no conspiracy here. They were this Canadian company which was opening an office in London to work in British politics and they were doing stuff that none of the UK companies could offer. Their targeting was based on a set of technologies that hadn’t reached the UK yet. A lot of it was proprietary, they’d found a way of targeting people based on behavioural insights. They approached us.” It seems clear to me that David Banks didn’t know there might have been anything untoward about this. He’s a patriotic man who believes in British sovereignty and British values and British laws. I don’t think knew about any overlap with these other campaigns. I can only think that he was played. And that we, the British people, were played. In his blog, Dominic Cummings writes that Brexit came down to “about 600,000 people – just over 1% of registered voters”. It’s not a stretch to believe that a member of the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters. The referendum was an open goal too tempting a target for US billionaires not to take a clear shot at. Or I should say US billionaires and other interested parties, because in acknowledging the transatlantic links that bind Britain and America, Brexit and Trump, so tightly, we also must acknowledge that Russia is wrapped somewhere in this tight embrace too. For the last month, I’ve been writing about the links between the British right, the Trump administration and the European right. And these links lead to Russia from multiple directions. Between Nigel Farage and Donald Trump and Cambridge Analytica. A map shown to the Observer showing the many places in the world where SCL and Cambridge Analytica have worked includes Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Iran and Moldova. Multiple Cambridge Analytica sources have revealed other links to Russia, including trips to the country, meetings with executives from Russian state-owned companies, and references by SCL employees to working for Russian entities. Article 50 has been triggered. AggregateIQ is outside British jurisdiction. The Electoral Commission is powerless. And another election, with these same rules, is just a month away. It is not that the authorities don’t know there is cause for concern. The Observer has learned that the Crown Prosecution Service did appoint a special prosecutor to assess whether there was a case for a criminal investigation into whether campaign finance laws were broken. The CPS referred it back to the electoral commission. Someone close to the intelligence select committee tells me that “work is being done” on potential Russian interference in the referendum. Gavin Millar, a QC and expert in electoral law, described the situation as “highly disturbing”. He believes the only way to find the truth would be to hold a public inquiry. But a government would need to call it. A government that has just triggered an election specifically to shore up its power base. An election designed to set us into permanent alignment with Trump’s America. Martin Moore of King’s College, London, pointed out that elections were a newly fashionable tool for would-be authoritarian states. “Look at Erdoğan in Turkey. What Theresa May is doing is quite anti-democratic in a way. It’s about enhancing her power very deliberately. It’s not about a battle of policy between two parties.” This is Britain in 2017. A Britain that increasingly looks like a “managed” democracy. Paid for by a US billionaire. Using military-style technology. Delivered by Facebook. And enabled by us. If we let this referendum result stand, we are giving it our implicit consent. This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world. SCL Group British company with 25 years experience in military “psychological operations” and “election management”. Cambridge Analytica Data analytics company formed in 2014. Robert Mercer owns 90%. SCL owns 10%. Carried out major digital targeting campaigns for Donald Trump campaign, Ted Cruz’s nomination campaign and multiple other US Republican campaigns – mostly funded by Mercer. Gave Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU “help” during referendum. Robert Mercer US billionaire hedge fund owner who was Trump’s biggest donor. Owns Cambridge Analytica and the IP [intellectual property] ofAggregateIQ. Friend of Farage. Close associate of Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon Trump’s chief strategist. Vice-president of Cambridge Analytica during referendum period. Friend of Farage. Christopher Wylie Canadian who first brought data expertise and microtargeting to Cambridge Analytica; recruited AggregateIQ. AggregateIQ Data analytics company based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Worked for Mercer-funded Pacs that supported the Trump campaign. Robert Mercer owns AggregateIQ’s IP. Paid £3.9m by Vote Leave to “micro-target” voters on social media during referendum campaign. Outside British jurisdiction. Veterans for Britain Given £100,000 by Vote Leave. Spent it with AggregateIQ. BeLeave Youth Leave campaign set up by 23-year-old student. Given £625,000 by Vote Leave & £50,000 by another donor. Spent it with AggregateIQ. ASI Data Science Data science specialists. Links with Cambridge Analytica, including staff moving between the two and holding joint events. Paid £114,000 by Vote Leave. Vote Leave declared £71,000 to Electoral Commission. Donald Trump US president. Campaign funded by Mercer and run by Bannon. Data services supplied by Cambridge Analytica and AggregrateIQ. Nigel Farage Former Ukip leader. Leader of Leave.EU. Friend of Trump, Mercer and Bannon. Arron Banks Bristol businessman. Co-founder of Leave.EU. Owns data company and insurance firm. Single biggest donor to Leave – £7.5m. Some names, ages and other identifying details of sources in this article have been changed
News Article | September 26, 2016
A teenage surfer has suffered lacerations to his right thigh after being attacked by a shark at east Ballina’s Lighthouse beach on the New South Wales north coast. Lifesavers treated the surfer, named by News Corp as 17-year-old Ballina resident Cooper Allen, at the scene at 9am on Monday before he was rushed to Lismore base hospital, a NSW ambulance spokeswoman said. A Westpac Lifesaver helicopter was called but it wasn’t needed to take the man to hospital. The ABC reported Surf Life Saving NSW lifeguards on jet-skis chased the shark away from the shore after the attack. Richmond police inspector Nicole Bruce told the ABC a great white had been seen further off shore but it was not known whether it was responsible as no witnesses saw the shark during the attack. Surf Life Saving NSW said all Ballina shire beaches were closed until further notice after the incident. The ABC reported lifeguards were working to control the bleeding until paramedics arrived. The incident comes weeks after the Department of Primary Industries said it had “discontinued” the Eco Shark Barrier project off Lighthouse beach after issues emerged with sand movement and swells. In November last year another surfer, Sam Morgan, was attacked at the same beach by what the Department of Primary Industries believed was a bull shark about 2.8m to 3.1m long. In February last year surfer Tadashi Nakahara, 41, died after losing both legs in a shark attack at Shelly beach, a popular tourist spot in Ballina. He was given first aid but died at the scene. Surf Life Saving NSW said on Monday: “A NSW Department of Primary Industries helicopter has been diverted to the area for aerial surveillance, while the Ballina lifeguard jet-ski is currently conducting roving patrols on the water as are other surf lifesaving assets. “The species of shark involved in the incident is not yet known and DPI scientists will investigate further.” A hospital spokeswoman said the teenager would only need a few stitches.