Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Media executives (mostly) read free news

BosHere’s one of the headlines that we produced at this week’s Reuters Global Media Summit: “Media get real about paid-for Web news.” In it, we distilled media executives’ thoughts on the future of news to this: The romance with free content — stimulated by global ad spending that reached a peak of almost half a trillion dollars last year — was over.

Or… maybe it’s not over yet. Plenty of media executives, the people trying to find a way to get paid for what they produce when free stuff on the Internet makes that ever more difficult, still read free news. Not all, but some, even though they pay for some of it too. Here are some responses to the question we asked in New York and London: How do you read your news?

Nikesh Arora, president of global sales operations and business development at Google Inc (who, despite Google’s despised status among newspaper defenders, pays for some of his news):

I read my news in a combination of Twitter, Facebook, Google News and The New York Times. I get my New York Times delivered to my house.  I have it before I wake up. I scan through it. I get my newspapers in planes and whenever I have a sort of down moment, I am following CNN, the BBC, Reuters (aw, thanks!), TechCrunch and a whole lot of other relevant people at Twitter… If I have a free moment at my desk, I will go onto the Google News site to see what’s happening in the world. For some reason, I feel as informed as I used to be when I used to read two newspapers every morning.

Michael Haneke: How to politely dislike his movies

HanekeRTL Group Chief Executive Gerhard Zeiler came to our U.S. headquarters on Thursday so we could interview him for our Global Media Summit this week. While we waited for our colleagues in London and Germany to beam in remotely, I asked him about what he and other Austrians generally think of Michael Haneke.

Haneke is perhaps Austria’s most well known artist these days, a director whose films (“Cache,” “Code Inconnu,” “Benny’s Video,” “La Pianiste,” “Le Temps du Loup” and others) contain violent and intense episodes combined with queasy comedy that tend to disturb, shock and dismay his fans and his foes. He also enjoys the distinction of having made “Funny Games,” the only film to ever make me physically ill. In terms of his provocative content, think Peter Greenaway, not Steven Spielberg.

Recession’s perfect storm speeds up change in ad industry

Photo

Why is it that the United States’ advertising as a proportion of marketing services is at its lowest point since 1977, maybe even lower than since the Second World War?

You may have guessed it it’s the recession.

But it will get better, Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, said.

“The recession is less worse,” Sorrell said, repeating a favourite phrase of late, and while it’s the biggest recession since 1929 it is also “a perfect storm” that has brought forward change. 

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

Photo

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.

All I want for Christmas is a blockbuster

Photo

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.

Thain says put shareholders first

Photo

John Thain says he put shareholders first and his interests second in deciding to sell Merrill Lynch to Bank of America.

Thain, speaking at the Reuters Global Finance Summit in New York, said a deal to sell a partial stake in Merrill Lynch to Goldman Sachs would have been better for him, but the sale of the entire Wall Street firm to Bank of America was the best outcome for shareholders.

from Clare Baldwin:

Nomura banker says singing for karaoke only

Takeo Sumino, chief operating officer of Nomura Holding America Inc, wants to make one thing clear: neither he nor his Tokyo colleagues are into the habit of breaking into song first thing in the morning at the office.

A Wall Street Journal story in July said that one group of Nomura traders sang a company song in morning meetings.

Swine flu sales: windfall or hard work?

Photo

Swine flu is turning out to be a sales bonanza for drug companies – just don’t call it a windfall, says GlaxoSmithKline.

As one of the world’s top suppliers of both vaccines and antiviral medicine, CEO Andrew Witty resents the implication that billions of dollars of business simply fell into his company’s lap when the World Health Organisation declared H1N1 a pandemic in June.

Health reform…big in Europe too

Photo

U.S. healthcare reform is top of everybody’s agenda right now — but Barack Obama isn’t the only government leader chasing a new deal.

“If you are talking healthcare reform, it’s our daily life in Europe,” Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Sorensen told the Reuters Health Summit in New York.

Beckman hopes reform fees go up in smoke

Photo

Have healthcare companies sunk as far as controversial tobacco companies in the public eye? One medical equipment maker thinks so.

Makers of medical tests, implants and other devices face anywhere from $2 billion-a-year in industry-wide taxes in the House of Representatives’ health reform bill passed on Saturday to $4 billion-a-year under a Senate version.
The Senate measure’s tax is not deductible and would be applied much like the tobacco settlement from cigarette makers years ago, said Beckman Coulter CEO Scott Garrett.

  •