Further centralizing authority over newspaper and TV content, Corporate has notified senior executives that all "content" contracts and licensing agreements will now be handled by Gannett Digital Ventures, according to a memo forwarded to me by a reader. A former USA Today employee has been promoted to a new position managing this new arrangement, according to the memo, which was signed by Gannett Digital Ventures President Jack Williams (left).
The memo has emerged amid speculation that Williams is expanding his reach across Gannett's digital properties in discussions over a new paid content scheme, one that could involve News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones & Co., according to a Gannett Blog poster. Williams's move follows the departure of Chief Digital Officer Chris Saridakis on April 30. Corporate has not said publicly whether it intends to replace him.
The memo's text
To: Publishers, General Managers, Executive/Managing Editors, News Directors, and Financial Executives
From: Jack Williams
Cc: Gannett Management Committee, Tara Connell, Kate Marymont, Rob Mennie, Saira Stahl, Jeff Webber, Barbara Wall, Craig McKinnis
Re: New Company-wide Content Contract Policies and Procedures
As you know from our previous communication, Gannett recently created a company-wide “Content Acquisition and Syndication Committee” in an effort to begin centrally reviewing, coordinating and managing our content contracts and licensing arrangements for all U.S. properties. The purpose and advantages of these efforts include:
1. Leveraging the overall size and negotiating power of Gannett.
2. Consolidating and reducing the overall number of content contracts we maintain by negotiating single, company-wide contracts where today we may have multiple contracts (by unit) covering the same content.
3. Reducing our overall legal exposure and expenses.
4. Gaining better control and understanding of where Gannett’s content is distributed, how we’re compensated for its distribution, and allowing for better strategic planning and decision making going forward.
5. Helping individual units take advantage of content that may already be under contract and available for their use.
6. Providing a central contact point for all requests, questions, and assistance needed related to content contracts.
As discussed previously, to achieve these advantages, we will need to put new policies and procedures in place for:
1. Reviewing all existing content contracts to determine the number and type of contracts Gannett currently has in place as well as the needs and opportunities these imply.
2. How we handle all content contracts going forward.
The first part of this process began with the “Content Contract Survey”, which was sent to all U.S. properties last November. Gannett Legal is now in the process of reviewing all of the contracts gathered as a result of the survey. Since we have questions about some of the responses, or some appear incomplete, during this contract review period, Gannett Legal may need to contact individual units with follow-up questions to gather additional information.
The second part of this process is taking shape now and began with creating a new position within Gannett Digital Ventures to manage these arrangements and contracts: Manager, Content Contracts and Relationships. Craig McKinnis, formerly with USA Today, has moved into this position and will now become the central contact point on all issues relating to content contracts. In addition, the committee has worked on an initial set of Policies and Procedures to be implemented immediately as the new process for handling all of these contracts and relationships going forward.
Attached you will find the new “Content Contract Policies and Procedures.” For how we will handle all content contracts going forward. Definitions, descriptions and examples of different types of content contracts or agreements are included.
We understand there may be some initial comments, questions and concerns regarding the policies and procedures outlined in this document. This is new to all of us and a work in progress. We anticipate that the procedures and policies will be changed some over time as we work out the best way to handle all of the possible relationships and include that in the policies. We encourage your feedback and input to help us with this process. With your cooperation and feedback, we will be able to refine and streamline this process over time.
If at any time you are uncertain on how to proceed with any content contract, partnership or other content agreement, please contact Craig McKinnis at (703) 854-XXXX or via e-mail at XXXXX@gannett.com and he will be available to assist you.
Thank you for your cooperation in implementing and adhering to these new and important procedures – they will make a significant and positive impact on our organization.
President, Gannett Digital Ventures
[Image: this morning's USA Today, Newseum]