All posts by Franklin Paul

I'm an editor at Reuters.

Viacom CEO — Those Google guys are soooo cool

Tom_Freston_60pct.jpgHey, Google guys, youve got a fan! The MTV guy! Cool! 

Tom Freston, CEO of Viacom Inc. and a founder of the cable music video network back in the early 1980s  has seen his company become a touchstone of Whats HOT for young people around the globe, on Wednesday cheered the executives at Google. 

Despite his veteran status in the media industry, Freston, 60, is only in his third month as chief executive of a publicly traded company forcing to meet the demands of investors and not just cool kids. That makes the leaders of Google old-er hands (sort of) at the running-a-huge-company game.

 Asked if he had any further advice for Google, he countered:  

Im (a few) months into being CEO of a public company, and I keep thinking they should be giving ME some advice, Freston said at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York on Wednesday. “They have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, and they seem to take a lot of shots and move pretty fast and it seems to be working for them. 

fries.jpgMaybe they should have checked with Freston on one thing, however.

Asked what he thought of the fact that Googles CFO on Tuesday warned of slowing growth only two days before an analysts’ meeting, driving the stock down 7 percent he said: I dont think thats something you are supposed to do. But remember, Im new at this. 

In Paris, Liberty Media CEO Mike Fries told Reuters: “Google seems to be coming back to Earth. I don’t know where the ground is there, but they’re coming back to Earth.”

Apple should look at music sub service: Napster CEO

Napster Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Gorog on Tuesday said Apple Computer Inc., the digital music market giant that popularized the sale songs online for 99 cents each, would be, er, ignorant of a shift in the market if it fails to start selling monthly or annual subscriptions to its iTunes service.

“I would be absolutely shocked if they (Apple) did not enter the subscription business. It would be idiotic not to,” Gorog said at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York.

Napster, which runs a subscription-based online music service, has one of the best known names in the business but has failed to put a dent in Apple’s 80 percent market share.

The CEO of the reinvented Napster also defended Steve Jobs’ line against the record labels on pricing for digital downloads.

Listen to Napster Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Gorog call variable pricing for music and downloads “a bad idea. Period. Full stop.”

$2 for a DVD? Too much! (in China), Time Warner says

Psssst! Got $2 and looking for a copy of, say, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings on DVD?

If you are shopping in China, where widespread piracy of software, music, films and other goods has provoked constant complaints from multinational companies and governments alike, you might be able to beat that price, a Time Warner senior executive confessed on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit on Tuesday, Jeffrey Bewkes, chief operating officer of Time Warner, whose recent blockbusters include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Syriana, said the company battles the street market for DVDs in China by offering legitimate products, in the right time period at the right price. That price is about $2 or $3.

Still, he admitted that the New York-based company, whose revenues topped $43 billion in 2005, is battling, for example, a guy selling DVDs on a blanket for $1.
He was then asked if he thought selling DVDs for $2 or $3 was cheap enough.

“Probably not,” he said. 

Corning Inc says “We Love New York!”

love_ny_smaller.jpgBreathe easy, residents of Corning, New York — your biggest employer is staying put.

Peter Volanakis Chief Operating Officer, of Corning Inc., on Tuesday said the company, which makes fiber optic cable and liquid crystal glass used in TVs and computer displays, has no plans to leave the small town it has called home for some 130 years.

Asked if the comany, which earns two-thirds of its revenue outside of the U.S., was considering pulling up its roots, he said “No, that is our home.”

“That’s our headquarters, that’s where our laboratory is,” he said on Tuesday at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York. “All roads for us lead back to our central laboratory (there).”

The vote of confidence for New York’s “Crystal City” comes as other household names in the state in recent years have significantly pared thier workforce, most notably camera and film maker Eastman Kodak and printer and copier maker Xerox Corp.

Tivo’s impressive dance card

Tivo Box with TVTiVo’s CEO wants you to know that every time you read about TiVo chatting, the company is not nessecarily weighing a marriage proposal. “There’s a rumor every two weeks about TiVo,” CEO Tom Rogers said at the Reuters Technology, Media and Telecommunications Summit on Monday. “Generally those rumors tend to follow some kind of strategic discussion on how we might work together. Immediately, people assume we must have had a discussion about an acquistion.”

In recent years, Wall Street analysts and Internet chat rooms alike have suggested that TiVo – with a market capitalization less than $1 billlion – may be a ripe target for consumer electronics makers and media companies. Forrester Research analyst Josh Benoff famously published an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs that said “Buy TiVo.”

Rogers acknowledged that TiVo needs to grow its fee-paying subscribers and faces many tough challenges. As a result, the company is steadily seeking out new deals to get unique services — such as the ability to buy movie tickets via Yahoo — on a TiVo box.

“Our dance card on that stuff is amazingly impressive,” he said. “We are constantly talking to blue-chip companies that find themselves in the news regularly, and somehow get painted as potential acquirers. But the nature of the discussions have not been well reported.”

That said — when given a chance to definitively quash rumors that Cisco Systems was currently interested in buying Tivo, Rogers declined to comment. “I think .. we can have some interesting discussions (with other companies). I don’t want to get into discussions with specific companies (during this interview),” he said.”

Watch video interview with Tom Rogers. Tivo’s deal to provide Comcast cable subscribers with TiVo’s recording device will kick-in later this year.