MediaFile

Karmazin: I’d have sold Viacom but for Sumner

Photo (Reuters): Mel Karmazin, CEO Sirius XM

Sirius XM Satellite Radio chief Mel Karmazin on Tuesday stopped by the annual Reuters Global Media Summit to talk about his company, its future and to occasionally go down memory lane on a range of what if’s.

The 68-year old acknowledged that after roughly 50 years in the business he finally realizes that he’s not a good number two. He also proudly noted that he has no aversion to selling a company he leads if the right offer comes along. His track record backs him up on that claim. Karmazin sold Infinity Broadcasting to CBS in 1997, and then CBS to Viacom in 2000, creating enormous wealth for his shareholders in the process.

But there’s one deal Karmazin seemed to regret not having a chance to get done–selling Viacom. He admitted that given the opportunity and presented with the right price he would have sold Viacom when he was in charge. But Viacom’s 88-year old legendary leader Sumner Redstone, who has majority control over both that company and CBS, stayed at Viacom longer than expected. Indeed, Redstone still serves as Viacom’s chairman, outlasting Karmazin, who decamped to SiriusXM after three years of constant clashes with the octogenarian.

“I would have sold Viacom if Sumner wasn’t around,” Karmazin noted candidly.  He then smiled wide before adding, “If he went out to lunch I would have sold it.”

Sirius XM: no Howard Stern news today

Howard Stern

Fans of Howard Stern hoping to hear whether the shock jock will stay at Sirius XM might be disappointed if they tune into his channels, Howard 100 and Howard 101 Thursday afternoon. The Internet was atwitter after a web report said Stern was set to announce where he was taking his talents once his $500 million contract expires this year.

But Sirius XM denies that there will be any announcement.  In fact spokesman Patrick Reilly said TheStreet.com misunderstood CFO David Frear’s comments, during an investor conference, about Stern’s future.

Here’s what actually happened, according to Reilly: Responding to a question about Stern and his contract, Frear asked whether the person was a Sirius XM subscriber. When the inquisitor said “no”, he told her to go out and “buy a radio this afternoon” so she could tune into Stern’s show.

Microsoft-Yahoo provide a closer look at ad deal

By most accounts, the 88 percent revenue share Yahoo will collect from its advertising partnership with Microsoft is a pretty darn good number. Obviously, 90 percent is even better. And that’s exactly the share of revenue that Microsoft will pay Yahoo in the second half of their 10-year deal, according to a regulatory filing.******The filing casts more light on the details of the partnership. It also seemed to give a lift to Yahoo, whose stock rose slightly in early trade.******Here are five other key points from the filing …*** *** At least 400 Yahoo staffers will join Microsoft. The two companies will select an extra 150 employees to help with Yahoo’s transition to Microsoft’s search technology.

*** A definitive agreement is due to be signed by October 27, or they head for an arbitration panel.

*** Microsoft is paying Yahoo about $50 million a year during the first three years of the deal to help with transition costs.

*** The deal is limited to web sites, applications and “other online digital properties designed for use and consumption on personal computers.” But Yahoo can receive Microsoft mapping and mobile search if it wants.

*** Yahoo can kill the deal if the Yahoo and Microsoft’s share of the U.S. query market falls below a certain level. Either party can terminate the deal due to repeated material breaches of the agreement.

***

***If you want more information on these provisions, or others, have a look here.******Keep an eye on:***

    *** What’s the Wall Street Journal’s policy when it comes to story embargoes? PaidContent has the latest rundown (paidContent.org)

    ***

***

    *** Google is doing a little wheeling and dealing. It is buying On2 Technologies, and has sold its Google Radio Automation business (Reuters)

    ***

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    *** Sirius XM Radio’s stock has been on a run this week. Seems that investors are looking past what will likely be quarterly loss and focussing instead on new initiatives like “cash for clunkers” (Reuters)

    *** Looking for a less expensive digital book reader? Sony’s hoping to please (Reuters)

    ***

***(Photo: Reuters)

Liberty: Stern is safe — for now

So after two weeks of following all the twists and turns of Sirius XM’s attempts to avoid bankruptcy, CEO Mel Karmazin decided on John Malone, founder of Liberty Media, to come in as Sirius XM’s white knight with a $530 million loan . The loan will cover the satellite radio provider’s looming debt and help it avoid bankruptcy. As part of the deal Liberty will eventually take a 40 percent stake in Sirius’ equity.

But does this mean the big money deals that Karmazin signed with the likes of Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey and Major League Baseball will get re-worked at a more favorable rate for the company now that there’s a new major stakeholder?

No, says Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei in an interview with Reuters.

You can look and say some of these content deals were cut at a time when there were two guys (Sirius and XM) bidding against each other in a relative frenzy. Having said that, a lot of these content relationships like Howard Stern are very valuable to this company, have been important in building the company, and are likely to be important in sustaining it.

For better or worse, here comes Ticketmaster/Live Nation

Will it survive? That’s the main question looming over today’s official news that Live Nation will indeed buy Tickemaster Entertainment, a deal that has been much in the news this week.

Already, Sen. Charles Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee and Democrat from New York, has called for a federal probe into Ticketmaster’s relationship with resale subsidiary TicketsNow (a relationship that was roundly criticized recently when fans tried to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets) and said a merger with Live Nation “must be viewed skeptically).

As the New York Times recently pointed out, the deal will mark “an early test of the Obama administration’s views on concentrated corporate power, particularly in an area with potentially stark implications for consumers.”

Redstone’s last picture show

Media mogul Sumner Redstone appears to be sticking with his decision to not sell more shares in Viacom and CBS. Here’s the Financial Times:

Media mogul Sumner Redstone has reached agreement with his daughter, Shari, to put some of National Amusement’s 1,500 cinemas on the block rather than the entire division, as part of debt-restructuring discussions to avoid selling more shares of Viacom and CBS, according to people familiar with the matter.

If lenders agree, the plan would clear the way to sell a part of the US group and 19 theatres in the UK. A prospectus is not expected to be released until early January, one person familiar with the discussions said.

Mel says lost Sirius/XM channels worth every penny – to bottom line

If you’re an old Sirius or former XM subscriber who lost one or more of your favorite channels after the two satellite radio companies merged earlier this year, CEO Mel Karmazin has a message for you: Tough luck, it’s for the greater good.

Karmazin told reporters at the Reuters Media Summit in New York that the two companies had taken the best of breed in each music channel genre from either Sirius or XM as part of a $400 million cost saving drive.

“We’re going to pick the best channels,” said Karmazin. “We’ve gotten hundreds of people who hated it and claimed they were going to cancel. So we’ve analyzed all the cancellations since the rationalization…It’s hard for me to understand what they don’t like.”

Sirius XM on the iPhone

starplayr2.jpgWe’re not entirely sure if the current round of leaks will lift Sirius XM out of its $1.40 per share doldrums, but screenshots of a new iPhone application in development that will let users stream Sirius XM radio stations could put a new shine on the company.

The shots, leaked to Orbitcast, show a login screen that would appear to imply that the service would likely only be available to existing Sirius or XM subscribers or subscribers to the mobile service. We’ve seen various mobile applications that do just that over the years for Windows Mobile phones. But this is the first to offer a common platform for both services — and months ahead of the company’s own timeline for an interoperable receiver.

Citigroup’s Tony Wible thinks the link to Apple “highlight that SIRI’s value lies in its content and not its hardware or infrastructure.” And such applications could help it gain share in the audio entertainment market. “SIRI bears argue that AAPL’s products will take share from SIRI, but we disagree as both MP3 players and satellite radio have unique advantages that leads us to believe both will co-exist. New satellite radio plans create a greater opportunity for synergies between the two,” Wible writes.

Time to talk Time Warner

time-warner-center.jpg

Time Warner’s earnings may be better-than-expected, but the most arresting news out of its quarterly report isn’t really about the media company’s profit, revenue or forecasts. It’s about strategy.

It’s always interesting to find out what direction Time Warner plans to take. What’s it selling? What’s it spinning off? What could it buy? Will it get rid of AOL? Could it acquire NBC Universal?

Here’s the latest news: Time Warner Chief Jeffrey Bewkes says the company would split AOL’s dial-up Internet and advertising business. This plan, along with getting rid of its cable services business, basically positions Time Warner as a content company.

Sirius XM: Are you ready for some radio?

New Sirius Logo

The marathon satellite merger for Sirius and XM is finally complete. (Check out the new “Sirius XM Radio” logo, above, provided by Sirius.)

That means new channel options, new pricing options, new radios — eventually.

We want to know if you care. Does the prospect of having Oprah and Howard Stern on your radio make you want to sign up for satellite radio? Will you start paying for the service once the free subscription in your new car runs out? Does the thought of the upcoming professional football season mean it’s time to pick up a satellite radio?