Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Gets Three-Year Contract Extension

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Jeffrey Bewkes

The agreement will keep Bewkes put until 2020.

Jeff Bewkes is staying put as the chief executive at Time Warner until 2020, the conglomerate announced Thursday. 

“The Board of Directors is delighted that Jeff has agreed to extend his employment agreement for another three years,” read a statement from Steve Bollenbach, the company’s lead independent director. "Since becoming CEO, Jeff has transformed the company to focus on video content, capitalized on the combined strength of Turner, HBO and Warner Bros., and delivered consistently strong operating and financial performance."

This extension does not change Bewkes' current compensation, which includes an annual bonus and long-term equity incentives on top of his base salary. He has served as CEO and chairman of Time Warner since 2009, but has been with the company for more than 20 years. Prior to his current role, Bewkes was president and CEO for a year after long tenures as chairman of Time Warner's Entertainment and Networks Group and chairman and CEO of pay cable crown jewel HBO.

“More importantly," added Bollenbach, "Jeff has developed and is executing the right long-term strategy for our company in a changing media landscape: one that uses the scale of our film and television businesses not just to create compelling video content that appeals to an increasingly diverse, worldwide audience, but also to lead the industry in developing innovative ways of distributing that content to consumers on both traditional and emerging platforms. We are very fortunate to have Jeff at the helm as we move forward with a strategy that positions Time Warner for sustainable success far into the future.”

Time Warner stock took a spill in 2015, as did many other companies so bound to the troubled cable climate. But shares closed Thursday up 2.27 percent just before the announcement of Bewkes' extension.

The exec has been open about cable's woes. In December, he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook's assessment that TV is "broken." "To be able to take all these channels that you've all paid for and use them on all your devices is very difficult, and that is why Tim is right," Bewkes told analysts at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York. "We shouldn't have to have advanced degrees in order to operate the network or the device that gets you the content."

Earlier on Thursday, Time Warner CFO Howard Averill took the stage at CES in Las Vegas to further espouse the growth of on-demand video, a recent point of emphasis for Bewkes.

"The big shift is to on-demand consumption," he noted, suggesting that Time Warner sees no decline in overall demand for video consumption, instead balancing reduced linear TV ratings with SVOD and unmeasured devices. "We're really well positioned to take advantage of where consumers are going."

Another Time Warner exec also outlined the rebrand plan for ad-supported cable flagships TNT and TBS on Thursday. Channels president and Turner Entertainment chief creative officer Kevin Reilly described the coming time for the networks as a "hairy couple of years" as the programming is overhauled and current advertising models shift.
 

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