MediaFile

Sun Valley: Do media companies still need to be conglomerates?

Media moguls and executives at Sun Valley spend a lot of time talking about how to best prepare for the challenges of Web and mobile disruption in the 21st Century.

Companies that once traded and leveraged their huge size and scale of distribution are now considering whether just being bigger might not necessarily be better in the new fragmented media world.

For example, Time Warner Inc is slimming down by spinning off its Time Warner Cable unit and AOL, its Internet division. It may also look to rid itself of its Time Inc publishing unit.

“The notion that there are synergies between content and distribution has been dispelled,” says Tuna Amobi, an equity analyst at Standard & Poor’s. “You’re not going to see a Comcast Corp trying to merge with a Disney anymore.”

Not everyone agrees. Sony Corp remains one of the world’s largest companies with major interests in a global empire that spans music, movies, video games, software, mobile phones and consumer electronics.

Sun Valley: More Who’s Who in Pictures

Nearly every powerful media and technology executive you can imagine has swung through the idyllic and affluent ski resort town of Sun Valley this week. Here are a few more snapshots from Reuters photographer Rick Wilking…

Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Inc, arrives at the Sun Valley Inn

Harvey Weinstein, of the Weinstein Co arrives at the Sun Valley Inn

Les Moonves, CEO of CBS Corp arrives

Cleveland Cavaliers basketball star LeBron James talks on a phone outside the Sun Valley Inn

Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, Bill Gates former CEO of Microsoft and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures in Sun Valley

Live Blogging from Sun Valley (Day 4)

Reuters reporters Yinka Adegoke, Alexei Oreskovic and Robert MacMillan are publishing live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.

UPDATE-Sun Valley: Google and Twitter heads together

Spotting which executives are talking to each other is the No.1 spectator sport among the reporters at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where dealmaking is always in the air. And the action on Thursday did not disappoint.

The man pictured on the left, of course, is Google co-founder Larry Page. The backside of the right-hand dome belongs to Twitter CEO Evan Williams. The pair appeared to be deep in discussion in the conference’s private lunch garden on Thursday.

Twitter is the fast-growing microblogging site that was previously rumored to have been in acquisition discussions with Google. Twitter has repeatedly said that it wants to remain independent and that it’s not for sale. Was Williams telling Page the same thing in Sun Valley?

Google and Microsoft – lunch of the frenemies at Sun Valley

Google is moving to steal Microsoft’s lunch with its plan to release a PC operating system that competes with Windows. But when Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates crossed paths in Sun Valley on Thursday, lunchtime was all pleasantries.

As Gates was walking out from one of the morning conference panels for lunch, reporters naturally surrounded him to ask for his thoughts about the new Chrome OS announced by Google this week.

Before Gates had a chance to answer though, Schmidt appeared from behind and joked “it would be better if you don’t make that comment,” provoking laughter all around.

Live Blogging from Sun Valley (Day 3)

Reuters reporters Robert MacMillan, Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will be sending live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.

Sun Valley: Barred from the bar

Reporters who cover the annual Allen & Co media conference know that the bar at the Sun Valley Lodge is a great spot to sit with uber-execs from Rupert Murdoch to Google’s Eric Schmidt to get their deep thoughts on the state of media and technology.

That was true this year, at least on Tuesday night, when reporters like me got to sit with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner shareholder Vivi Nevo, former Viacom CEO Tom Freston, Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin and others.

Someone complained, however, and tonight, reporters are not allowed to go to the bar.

CORRECTED-Sun Valley: YouTube’s most valuable customer

Corrects blog post to show Buffett was talking about YouTube, not Facebook.

Attention YouTube: Warren Buffett wants to give you money.

That’s the word from Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, who sat on a panel about digital media at the Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley on Tuesday.

Malone told reporters on the sidelines of the event that billionaire investor Buffet, aka the Oracle of Omaha, had told him privately that he would be willing to pay $5 a month to use YouTube, the popular video site owned by Google.

YouTube, of course, is a free Web service which makes its money through advertising. But other popular social media like Twitter have yet to generate revenue, and monetizing social networks is a big topic of discussion among the media and tech executives gathered for the conference.

Sun Valley: Ken Auletta paints it, black

Allen & Co’s Sun Valley media and technology conference forbids journalists from attending the morning sessions that executives and other media power players attend before they go out to play and talk about deals in the afternoon. That means the last, best hope they have is to get the low-down from a journalist who was invited.

There’s no pride in it, but at least you hear what happened from a reliable source.

In this case, that’s Ken Auletta, New Yorker media writer and author of several books about the media business. He moderated a panel about surviving in the digital age.

Live Blogging from Sun Valley (Day 2)

Reuters reporters Robert MacMillan, Yinka Adegoke and Alexei Oreskovic will be sending live updates from the Sun Valley gathering. Read their updates below or follow us on Twitter.