Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

NHL commish takes dim view of Canadian billionaire Balsillie

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman all but ruled out the prospect for Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie one day owning a team in the hockey league.

Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry wireless device maker Research in Motion, failed in a bid to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario in September when a U.S. judge blocked the attempt.

It wasn’t the first time Balsillie had tried and failed to buy a National Hockey League franchise and move it to Canada, attempts that have not sat well with the NHL. (Other efforts involved the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins).

When Reuters asked Bettman if Balsillie might ever own an NHL team, Bettman pointed out that the NHL owners had already said in a vote that they were not comfortable with the Canadian billionaire being involved with the league. And then he was even more blunt.
“There is a lot of water under this bridge, and I’m not prepared to say that the bridge hasn’t been washed out,” Bettman said.

Electronic Arts CEO straightens mom out at Thanksgiving

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Restructuring: You shouldn’t be afraid to do it, even more than once if you have to, and even if your own family doesn’t understand it. Just ask John Riccitiello, chief executive of videogame publisher Electronic Arts. Here’s what he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit on Tuesday:

A company that doesn’t restructure in the face of that dramatic transformation, I don’t know what they’re doing. GM had a great decade in the ’70s building large cars… They didn’t restructure in the face of what was obvious. The music industry kept telling us they wanted to buy albums, and then they tried to sue us. It didn’t serve them well. … We look at the future and we are aggressively embracing it… .

200MB? It’s only human nature to want more

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Broadband subscribers want as much speed as they can get their hands on, even if it’s way beyond what’s needed by the most avid downloader of music, keen watcher of video or biggest Facebook addict, reckons cable operator Liberty Global’s CEO.

Maybe he would say that, but Mike Fries says today’s subscribers are signing up for speeds of 100-200 MB to be safe in the knowledge they won’t be left behind whatever the next stage of the Internet — a bit like owning a car with a top speed way beyond the limit.

Like the ‘net? Pay your cable bill, says Time Warner’s Britt

If you want the Internet to keep doing what it does, keep paying your cable bill, and don’t get carried away with the idea of free (free! free!) content.

The next big free idea (sort of) is “TV Everywhere“, the cable industry’s attempt to make cable programming available over the Web — for no extra charge — to paying subscribers. It’s an important initiative for the industry, since Pay-TV companies are concerned that the recession-resistant subscription revenue of cable television could be undermined if cable shows became widely available over the Web.

Sirius CEO Karmazin limbers up for the Howard Stern dance

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It’s been five years since Sirius lured shock jock Howard Stern to satellite radio with a $500 million contract. Whether Stern can re-up with a similar deal when his contract expires at the end of next year is anyone’s guess, but it ought to be entertaining. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin is preparing himself for negotiations with the self-proclaimed King of All Media.

In a meeting with reporters at the Reuters Media Summit on Monday, Karmazin gave us a thumbnail sketch of his version of “The Art of the Deal.”

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

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What’s a great holiday gift in a recession, yes a good old fashioned book. Random House just got its new Dan Brown bestseller on the shelves.

Pearson’s Chief Financial Officer admitted that its consumer publisher Penguin does not have a blockbuster for the holiday season but — in a rare glimpse of corporate honesty — said it sure would like to have one.

Watch out school kids, big brother will soon be watching you

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By Paul Sandle

Sit back a minute and think back to your school days — doing homework on the bus, skipping double physics on a Friday afternoon…nice, huh? Well, no more if Pearson prevails.

The reluctant student skulking at the back of the class, copying homework at the last minute or taking a day off, like Ferris Bueller, could find school a lot tougher if his college starts using the publisher’s latest education products.  

ABC: Don’t you know that I’m still in love with news?

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I asked ABC TV chief Anne Sweeney at our Global Media Summit on Monday whether the nightly news broadcast will go away someday soon. Everyone who follows the broadcast TV business has wondered this at some time or another, particularly as fewer people tune in.

Here’s a bit of that conversation, where I got Sweeney to firmly say… not much. If you’re in a rush, the general message appears to be:

ABC TV chief to daughter: You *will* watch television

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When I went to college in 1991, I begged my parents to buy me a small television for my dorm room (They wouldn’t let me work during my first year of college, so I had no money). How things have changed in 18 years!

I learned how much they changed at the first day of the Reuters Global Media Summit. Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, was talking to us about how quickly the Internet and mobile technology are changing the way that we look at news and entertainment. That led to her divertimento into campus life:

What will the media company of the 21st Century look like?

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In the run-up to the annual Reuters Media Summit, taking place in New York and London next week, we have been asking experts and executives how they think media companies should reinvent themselves for the 21st Century.

Will the big need to get bigger? See Comcast’s bid for a controlling stake in NBC Universal.

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