Media Moguls to Address Wall Street One More Time Before the Holidays
Annual UBS investor conference next week will put the spotlight on the ad market and cord cutting.
NEW YORK - In a Wall Street holiday season tradition, media, entertainment and telecom top executives will once again come together at midtown
Manhattan's Grand Hyatt hotel Monday through Wednesday to discuss the state of their companies, the overall business and the outlook for 2011 at the
38th annual Global Media and Communications Conference.
Keynote appearances from the likes of Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman, CBS Corp. president and
CEO Leslie Moonves and News Corp. deputy chairman, president and COO Chase Carey will anchor this year's edition of what UBS executives like to call
"The Longest Running Show on Wall Street." Investors can look forward to a lot of big names, but no speaker from the Walt Disney Co., the entertainment conglomerate with the biggest market capitalization, is scheduled to present at the event this year.
A year after it was a key focus at the UBS investor gathering on the heels of its unveiling, the planned Comcast-NBC Universal combination will surely once again be among the topics of debate, although there are unlikely to be major updates given that the FCC and Justice Department are believed to be in the final stages of their deal reviews and the new management structure was recently unveiled.
For those hoping to hear from the new man in charge, designated NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke, or other new players at the company will have to wait. Instead, outgoing NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker will get one more opportunity to address the Wall Street crowd at the UBS gathering, and Neil Smit, who earlier this year left cable operator Charter to become president of Comcast's cable systems business, will represent the largest U.S. cable operator. Plus, other executives may hear - on stage or in the hallways - the one or the other question about how the deal may affect them or what conditions they would like to see regulators put on Comcast.
As always, the advertising market outlook for the new year will be a key focus of the gathering, which traditionally opens Monday morning with a panel of ad forecasters. Sector executives are also likely to share their perceptions of early 2011 ad trends.
Digital media and technologies and how they are changing the business are also once again likely to be a topic of debate, according to Wall Street folks.
Particularly the rise of new so-called "over the top" or online video providers, such as Netflix, which isn't on the UBS presenter list, and related fears of cord cutting are also expected to be in focus throughout the investor conference. Time Warner Cable boss Glenn Britt will make an appearance Monday morning, followed by a panel that will look at the "over the top" business and a conversation with Charter CEO Michael Lovett, plus appearances from telecom giants Verizon and AT&T on Tuesday. According to the agenda for the UBS conference, the panel will be moderated by former MySpace and Viacom top executive Jason Hirschhorn, who was just named a new MGM board member.
Among other notable scheduled speakers at the UBS conference are Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Rob Wiesenthal, CFO of Sony Corp. of America.
Some on the Street also hope for enticing 2011 resolutions from sector executives, such as signals of more dividends or stock buybacks to reward shareholders, which has already been a focus for many media and entertainment giants.