Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Discovery CEO talks about Oprah, her show, and OWN

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Now that Oprah Winfrey has set a date for when the sun will set on her syndicated talk show — Sept 2011 — everybody wants to know if she will recreate the show on OWN. OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, is the cable channel set to flicker on in some 80 million homes in January 2011 with Discovery Communications.

At the Reuters Media Summit in New York, Reuters Paul Thomasch put the question directly to David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery Communications:


REUTERS:
Do you expected Oprah will dedicate a lot of time to the OWN network?
DISCOVERY: When we announced OWN, Oprah talked about it as being ‘her’ media company. Its a 50-50 venture. We think it’s going to be very significant asset. But Oprah is the chairman, she’s the chief creative officer. Shes spends a lot of time on it with me and the staff, she’s involved in all the creative decisions she has a ton of energy and great creativity. We always expected that she was going to be spending a lot of time in front of the screen and behind the screen.  Its a big win for us and the cable industry that (she) will be available primarily on OWN. OWN will really feel the strength and creativity of her presence.

REUTERS: Have you talked to her about bringing her current show, or something resembling her show, to OWN?
DISCOVERY: We have talked about a lot of creative ways that Oprah can have a presence on OWN (such as Master Class). Oprah has a ton of great ideas. But ultimately, what Oprah does on OWN is Oprah’s decision.

A Barry Diller sampler from the Reuters Global Media Summit

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Interviewing IAC chief and media mogul Barry Diller nearly always means that you’ll get more quotable quotes than you can stuff into one article. He didn’t disappoint at this year’s Reuters Global Media Summit on Wednesday. Here are thoughts from Diller on a range of subjects from mergers and acquisitions and Comcast to AOL, MGM and marriage.

Q: What are you going to do with the cash on the balance sheet? What’s the focus? Are you still being cautious?

Recession’s perfect storm speeds up change in ad industry

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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. 

NHL commish: Bigger not always better

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If you want a new National Hockey League team, you’ll definitely need a spanking new arena, or at least one that’s been gussied up in a significant way. But that doesn’t mean it need be a super-sized arena,  Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Reuters Global Media Summit.

“While we play to 93 to 94 percent capacity, we’d like to play to 100 percent capacity,” Bettman said. “A 15,000-16,000 seat arena might work better in some markets than a 19,000 seat arena.”

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.

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.”

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.  

Is Rupert Murdoch toast?

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Rupert Murdoch may have a sprawling empire and may be one the media industry’s last moguls but sometimes a small trust-owned outfit can show the big guys how it’s done. And what does that say about the future? Read for yourself.
The Guardian has been a fanastic innovator online, absolutely amazing innovator,” said David Levin, Chief Executive of United Business Media UBM at the Reuters Media Summit.”The big debate is how does Rupert Murdoch’s approach, saying I’m going to try and come off the search engines play, contrast with what the Guardian may or may not do. The Guardian is at the other end of the spectrum.
So, you got people who are webcentric and those who say well, ooh, I don’t like that web thing, I will somehow go off line…they’re toast.”
Rupert Murdoch take heed.

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:

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