Six things PR pros need to know on Thursday morning, 4.23.2015

WPP reports 1.2% increase in Q1 for PR, public affairs; Comcast-Time Warner merger hits major roadblock; YouTube unveils new offering

1. WPP has reported a 1.2% increase in like-for-like sales in its PR and public affairs group in Q1 2015, which represents slower growth than Q4 2014, but "similar" growth to Q1 last year. The holding company – whose PR firms include Burson-Marsteller, Ogilvy PR, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Finsbury – said PR and public affairs had "strong growth" in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, but was held back in the UK and continental Europe. Overall, WPP Q1 group revenue grew 8.3% from last year.

2. The proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger has hit a major obstacle as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is recommending the $45.2 billion deal be sent to an administrative hearing. Reports indicate FCC officials are leaning toward a conclusion that the union would not be helpful to consumers. Regulatory experts also predict the hearing would likely be a protracted process that could effectively kill the deal.

3. YouTube is introducing a new studio for filmmakers as it celebrates the 10-year anniversary since the first video was uploaded on the site on April 23, 2005. In its ongoing effort to continually improve the quality of its content, the video-sharing giant is investing in YouTube Spaces, which are designed to offer professional studios, training, and resources that have long been out of reach for low-budget productions. Currently, there are five such spaces worldwide.

4. The family of Michael Brown is set to announce today a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed last August by Darren Wilson, a white police officer who has since resigned, but was not indicted. The shooting sparked heated protests and initiated a nationwide debate over the way law enforcement officials treat black men.

5. Google has unveiled a new US wireless service, Project Fi, its first foray into the wireless sector. The offering, which switches between Wi-Fi and cellular networks to curb data use and keep phone bills low, will only work on the company’s Nexus 6 phones and be hosted through Sprint and T-Mobile networks.

6. According to a New York Times report, the US is overtaking OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) as the vital global swing producer that determines gas prices. The change, which has been building since 2008, has been spearheaded by the fact American shale fields account for approximately half of the world’s oil production growth while US petroleum output has nearly doubled.

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