TW's Bewkes: Broadcast, 'Time' Need Kick-Start

Jeff Bewkes

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes reiterated Tuesday that the company has no interest in acquiring NBC Universal or spinning off its Time Inc. division.

Speaking at TV Week magazine's Innovation conference in New York, Bewkes said past large media acquisitions have been driven by two somewhat misguided forces: an acquiring company believing it can manage the assets better and benefit from synergies.

"A lot of these things didn't work out so well," he admitted, with a nod to Time Warner's 2000 combination with AOL.

Still, he suggested that if Comcast gains control of NBCU, the cable operator would be aggressive in migrating content to the Web and could reinvigorate the struggling broadcast model, where NBC has the network and owned local stations.

Cable channels such as TNT and TBS have been thriving, Bewkes said, and "whether the broadcast networks and associated stations can join that remains to be seen, but that's what they need to do." Time Warner holds a 50% interest in CW, a newer broadcast outlet.



On Time Inc., he said readership remains strong and the magazine business is not weighed down by negative classified (and other) ad trends hurting newspapers. It's a "myth," he said, that magazines are grappling with the newspaper conundrum.

Nonetheless, it remains an uphill battle to reinvent the Time Inc. portfolio, especially on the Web. Bewkes said if brands that have resonated with readers for decades can't be done successfully online, then "shame on us."

While Sports Illustrated and People are poised to do well, magazines that have traditionally relied on breaking news in print -- such as Time -- need the most retooling to adapt to an online universe flooded with real-time news.

"There's a little more change needed in news probably," he said.

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