Verizon CEO: Satellite assets not imperative

Discovery still working out Oprah Winfrey Network specifics

NEW YORK -- Telecom giant Verizon doesn't need to acquire DirecTV, but wants to improve its strategic partnership with the satellite TV firm, Verizon chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg reiterated Wednesday.

In December, he had shot down recurring suggestions that Verizon could buy DirecTV.

Speaking at a Citi conference in San Francisco Wednesday, he said: "Do we need to own satellite assets? We have not come to the conclusion that this is a strategic imperative."

He added that satellite operations are not a core business.

However, Seidenberg also said that "having a great (strategic) relationship with DTV "is a priority." Verizon and DirecTV have a co-marketing partnership, and he said the two partners "need to find better ways" to work together even more efficiently.

Seidenberg also told investors at the 20th annual Citi Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference that the FiOS TV video service can further grow its penetration beyond the 30% it has reached in some markets.

Also at the conference Wednesday, Discovery Communications CFO Brad Singer once again fielded questions about the Oprah Winfrey Network, scheduled to launch next year.

"We are (in the process of) working through how much Oprah we will have on the Oprah Winfrey Network," he said.

Singer also said U.S. scatter advertising prices have continued to firm up. First-quarter scatter is running ahead of year-ago levels -- a trend the company also saw in the fourth quarter, he said. Ad visibility has also slightly improved, he added.
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