If you’ve ever listened to Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes speak, you’ll be used to his breezy, languid style. But he sounded even more so than usual on Friday at a conference in Washington D.C. when asked about the big media story of the year so far: Comcast’s bid to take control of NBC Universal.
Allen & Co might have thought they were being helpful to executives by shutting out the working press from the usual mingling with the executives at the Sun Valley Lodge bar. Its annual media and technology conference includes the reminder to its attendees that they’re not supposed to talk to the reporters who fly out, uninvited but not unwelcome, to try to get the big guys to talkMaybe it wasn’t so helpful. At least four CEOs told MediaFile and other reporters privately here that they were less than impressed with the decision. Executives who wanted to speak with individual reporters or hold court with several at a time had to do it outside the bar. And that’s just what many of them did, opting to hang with each other and various journalists in the lobby outside the bar, leaving the wonderful staff of the lodge’s bar to ferry drinks out to the crowd.Google CEO Eric Schmidt held his annual sit down with reporters on Thursday by the fireplace in the lobby of the Sun Valley Inn, and a bunch of other top movers in the media world from Hearst Magazines chief Cathleen Black to News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch and Time Warner Inc CEO Jeff Bewkes seemed to think little ill of jawing with the press during cocktail hour.The hired security at the event said Allen & Co made the decision on Tuesday after someone complained. The decision reversed years of tradition here where the press and executives mingle in the evenings to have off-the-record chats and trade gossip.On Saturday, the last day with just one (MediaFile) reporter left, the security seemed to relax a little. The head of security told this reporter, “I’m letting you get away with murder because you’re the last guy here.”Let’s see if we can apply that policy to the bar next year. Everyone can use a little social lubricant, especially executives and the reporters who make their living off covering what they do.
AOL’s recently appointed chief executive, Tim Armstrong, has only been in place for three weeks but Wall Street is waiting impatiently for his next move. He’s started to shake up the ad team. Investors are focused on when parent company Time Warner will spin off the Internet unit, which has lost favor with Wall Street, advertisers and users alike.
One day soon you’ll be able to watch your TV everywhere: online, on-the-go, your phones, just about everywhere and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes wants you to know about it and believe it.
******Current valuations for media companies must have opened up some opportunities for dealmaking, right? It’s hard to argue that things aren’t getting cheap.******Well, two of the industry’s top dogs, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, seem to have differing views on whether the media meltdown makes for a good time to wheel and deal. Both were asked about it during presentations at the Deutsche Bank Annual Media & Telecommunications Conference.******Dauman said Viacom, owner of MTV and Paramount, wants to focus on internal growth, mentioning Nickelodeon’s international expansion and the Colors television channel in India. “I continue to believe that we are better off investing in growing our own brands than spending significant money on acquisitions,” he said “I don’t see our using huge dollars to make an acquisition anytime soon.”******Bewkes left the door slightly more ajar. He said a lot of the assets or companies out there — “you can fill in the usual suspects” — have previously been way overpriced. “Up ’til now, those things have been around at prices that just don’t provide a return,” he said.******Deals may now make more sense. “We have room for acquisitions if there are real opportunities out there that don’t represent stupid prices or acquisitions risks,” he said when asked if they were on the prowl.******Time Warner, of course, knows a thing of two about stupid prices and acquisition risks.******Speaking of which… Not surprisingly, Bewkes was asked about AOL. He provided fairly stock answers, saying he was disappointed in ad sales and would still consider a deal for the troubled web business. “We always remain open for scale combinations that put any of our businesses in a better position,” he said. “We remain open to that.”******(Photo: Reuters)