Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: Era of Media Moguls Is Over

12:59 PM PST 11/17/2010 by Georg Szalai

Says he watches all the news networks, but also "Family Guy"

NEW YORK - The era of media moguls is over, Time Warner chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes said here Wednesday.

Nowadays, big companies are the stars, and firms from the traditional and new media worlds act on the same stage, he said on the opening day of the 2010 International Council Meeting at The Paley Center for Media in a session that was webcast.

In the old media business world, people spoke of moguls who were often self-promoting guys and undisciplined when it came to deals and the like. "We're not moguls anymore," Bewkes said later. "We're reasonable people" who try to make the right decisions.

Asked about Netflix, which has given industry players headaches as they try to figure out whether it is friend or foe, Bewkes lauded the convenience and "great interface" of its online streaming service.
“We don’t worry about antagonizing Netflix,” he said. “But what you don’t want to do is undervalue the content”

Bewkes also showed no concern about other big tech players, such as Steve Jobs' Apple. If they tried to interfere with content companies' subscriptions, "it wouldn’t be good,” Bewkes warned. “But it’s not going to happen." After all, a tech company that doesn't support the company's popular content only "will degrade the value of their product.”

Asked about his personal media consumption, Bewkes said he reads the major newspapers - whether in paper or tablet form. And he likes to watch all news channels to see how they each cover key news items. Plus, "I watch a little Family Guy" because of his 13 year-old son, and the show is "pretty funny," although he wonders whether a 13-year old should watch that kind of show, Bewkes shared.

The TW CEO also once again signalled that the first half of 2011 will bring the launch of premium VOD films at price points of$20-plus. Asked whether a $50 price could make sense, he said that "seems high."

Discussing CNN, Bewkes said the main challenges is that "we have to do a better job at programming the news" and making it more accessible, understandable and interesting. He reiterated a point his team has often made that CNN attracts more viewers, but ratings overall are lower that those of Fox News, because busy people get news and leave quickly. "Or we bore the hell out of them," he quipped. "We are trying to fix that."

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