Council Calling SRC, Teachers Back to Bargaining Table

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It’s not easy to get unanimity from the Philadelphia City Council. But every single member has signed on to sponsor a resolution asking the School Reform Commission and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers to call a truce in their battle and head back to the negotiating table.

“Everybody knows in our city, you’ve got to negotiate,” said Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who introduced the resolution, then got each of her colleagues to sign on as sponsor. “Our school system’s in too much trouble not to negotiate to resolve these issues.”

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Philly Comcast Subscriber? You’re (Maybe) About to Get Some Goodies.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Comcast has settled a lawsuit alleging it overcharged Philly-area customers for cable TV subscribers — and that means current and former subscribers are going to be eligible for some goodies … if the settlement is approved by a judge.

Reuters reports:

The preliminary settlement, which requires court approval, calls for Comcast to pay $16.67 million in cash to current and former subscribers in Philadelphia and four nearby counties.

Comcast will also offer current subscribers as much as $33.33 million in services via a $15 bill credit or free Internet upgrades or movies worth up to $43.90.

Ars Technica gives some background:

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Questioning Comcast’s Merger Plans

Will Comcast be able to pull off its merger with Time Warner Cable? The smart money says yes — the company has a lot of muscle in Washington D.C. —but there’s a real possibility that federal regulators will put strict conditions on their approval.

Let’s see what the headlines have to say about this:

Is Comcast’s Time Warner Cable Acquisition in Jeopardy? As an investor, you would be foolish to not want the Comcast/Time Warner acquisition to go through. And although the market appears to be hedging its bets, it’s a pretty good chance the FCC and DOJ will sign off on the merger. The larger entity will be better equipped to negotiate programming costs with channels. As a subscriber, the result of this acquisition is less important than most think. However, that doesn’t mean that pay-TV providers aren’t starting to pay attention to changing demands. Last year pay-TV experienced its first every year-over-year subscriber drop as a result of the powerful trend of cord cutting. And many of those still with pay-TV are looking a smaller, less-expensive packages with an emphasis on Internet service rather than TV. If pay-TV doesn’t adjust to this trend by adding more value, the result of this merger is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

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Nutter Still Wants PGW Sale Hearing

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Though seemingly dead for good after a City Council announcement on Monday, there may still be life in the proposal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works to a private company.

Mayor Nutter, for example, hopes the deal can be resuscitated — saying the proposal should’ve received public hearings before a decision was made.
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Meet the New Philly.com Brain Trust

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Mike Topel, left, and Eric Ulken of Philly.com.

Meet the new braintrust of Philly.com. These are the guys who may hold the future of Philadelphia’s two major daily newspapers in their hands.

Mike Topel, the executive editor of Philly.com, is an old hand — he worked on the print side at the Inquirer, then Philly.com, before leaving for several years. He returned this summer to lead the operation. Eric Ulken arrived shortly after from the Seattle Times to become the site’s director of digital strategy — a position that has a foot both in journalism and the business of Philly.com

With the recent announcement that the Inquirer and Daily News sites are shutting down and folding into Philly.com, this duo’s work becomes more important than ever to the future of the Interstate General Media, which owns all three organizations. It’s a fraught assignment: The three newsrooms have a spotty record, at best, of cooperation. Philly.com has had its own reputational problems. But the duo vows a renewed emphasis on journalism — and on making that journalism look good on the web.

The two sat down with Philly Mag recently to talk about the future of Philly.com, how to get three newsrooms to cooperate together on the web, what went wrong with the newspapers’ websites, and Philly.com’s advantages in the marketplace.

Oh, and we talked about comments. Of course.

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(Update) Inquirer, Daily News Continue Circulation Decline

Updated with comment from a company spokesman.

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Print circulation at the Philadelphia Inquirer continues its long slide, according to preliminary numbers from the Alliance for Audited Media.

The Inky’s average Sunday print circulation for the six month period that ended September 30th was 312,197, down 12,000 copies a week from the last report in March, and off by roughly 18,000 copies a week from the same report a year ago. (The preliminary “snapshot” numbers can be seen — along with audited reports from March 2014 and September 2013 — below.)

Circulation was down for the Inquirer’s weekday and the Daily News print editions as well.

“The trend lines for our print numbers are very much in line with other major metro newspapers, but we continue to aggressively pursue ways to improve our products,” said company spokesman Jonathan Tevis. “The significant expansion of The Inquirer’s arts and entertainment coverage and the enhancements to the real estate and health sections illustrate this point. Special reports like the Daily News’ city gentrification project also demonstrate our ongoing commitment to providing readers with the news and information they expect from their local newspaper.

“At the same time, we are very encouraged by the progress we are making on the digital content side. Our replica editions remain very popular, and our September web analytics showed more growth in the area of unique visitors from both desktop and mobile. We also saw a sharp increase in our dominance among competing local news websites in September.”

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(Update) Penn State Trustees Won’t Revisit Freeh Report

[Update 2:30 p.m.] Looks like Penn State won’t revisit the Freeh Report, after all.

The Post-Gazette reports:

An alumni trustee’s proposal at Penn State University to revisit the controversial Freeh Report failed by a board of trustees vote of 17-9 today after a contentious near-hour-long debate on the University Park campus.

With the meeting just underway, trustee Anthony Lubrano said members had tried to reach a compromise on the resolution but had failed. “We are just very divided on this issue,” he said.

Mr. Lubrano said the report’s conclusions “damned the university and its culture and certainly harmed our reputation.” He said board members have a fiduciary responsibility to seek out conclusive answers.

[Original] At Penn State, the past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Which is why — more than two years later — the school’s trustees are gathering to discuss the Freeh Report that implicated late football coach Joe Paterno and university administrators in failing to sufficiently pursue or report child-sex allegations against Jerry Sandusky, an assistant football coach, for years before the allegations finally surfaced publicly.
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Penn Course Requires Students to Waste Time on the Internet

This is why Penn is ranked 19th in the world, folks.

Aptly-named “Wasting time on the Internet,” the real-life course will be offered by the Ivy League school’s English department during the upcoming spring 2015 semester.

“Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs.”

And oh yeah: “Distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory.”
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Dear Willie Brown: Don’t Mess Up the Election

SEPTAbus48-driving-behind-taxi

Dear Willie Brown:

I’ve got a favor to ask. You’ve waited a long time to lead TWU 234 on strike — the 4,700 members of your union who work for SEPTA have been without a contract since March, and they’ve stayed at both their posts and at the negotiating table since then. That’s admirable.

Now your membership has decided it’s time to strike. Well, not right now, and not this week. Maybe next week.  Maybe even Monday, Nov. 3.

That’s a really bad idea.

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