Liberty CEO considers plans for Overture

Starz Media and Starz Entertainment merger possible

NEW YORK -- Movies are "a hard business," and Liberty Media continues to explore options for its Overture Films unit, Liberty president and CEO Greg Maffei said Wednesday.

Overture could end up cutting back on the number of movie projects or team up with partners, he signaled at a Credit Suisse media investor conference in Palm Beach, Fla.

Maffei did laud the fact though that the company's last several projects did well, such as "The Crazies."

New Starz head Chris Albrecht is doing "a great job" developing the premium service's original programming strategy, said the Liberty CEO, but he cautioned that it is tricky to measure the financial return of originals.

"Measuring how one series did...is probably difficult," said Maffei. "Spartacus," for example, has done very well in the ratings and will help Starz's brand perception. But measuring such factors as brand benefit and effect on carriage fees is difficult, he said.

Maffei also said Liberty continues to mull a possible combination of Overture parent Starz Media and Starz Entertainment, which are currently attributed to different parts of Liberty. "We hope to get it done sooner rather than later," he said, signaling a solution could emerge over the next few quarters.
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