As Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman was managing investors expectations speaking downtown at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference, back at its midtown Times Square HQ, staffers at flagship unit MTV Networks were fretting as pink slips were being handed out. There was widespread concern internally, according to a source. (AdWeek reported it last night).
Viacom’s ongoing legal fisticuffs with Google over alleged piracy on YouTube rages on. The MTV and Nickelodeon owner on Thursday put out nine additional exhibits in addition to the hundreds of pages that were put out last month including transcripted deposition from Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Viacom, which extended CEO Philippe Dauman’s contract today, said the exhibits “make clear one of our core claims in the case: that Google made a deliberate, calculated business decision not only to profit from copyright infringement, but also to use the threat of copyright infringement to try to coerce rights owners like Viacom into licensing their content on Google’s terms.”
Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can think of will be camping out in the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. They have aimed their Gulfstreams squarely at Idaho so they can show up at the 27th edition of Allen & Co’s media and technology conference, which investment banker Herb Allen holds every summer here.
As we previously noted in MediaFile the main takeway from Viacom’s earnings call was that advertising is awful, but it’s not getting worse. But there were a few other highlights, too, so here’s a time-saving rundown:
The big highlight of the McGraw-Hill media summit in New York when NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker took a couple of shots at Jon Stewart.
******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)