Hollywood Moguls to Discuss Ad Trends, Deals at Big UBS Conference

Les Moonves

CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes, Netflix's Ted Sarandos and Harvey Weinstein will be among big-name speakers.

Latest advertising forecasts, technology debates, possible merger and acquisition talk and discussions of the reasons for broadcast networks' weaker start into the fall TV season - these are all expected to be topics at the 40th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York this coming week.

Known as the "longest-running show on Wall Street," it is the traditional end to the year's conference circuit for media and entertainment industry investors. And it tends to draw a lineup of speakers that is a who's who of Hollywood conglomerates and other key sector players.

Big-name speakers at the Monday-Wednesday event this year include CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, Walt Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan and News Corp. executive vp
Joel Klein, the former New York City schools chancellor who will speak at a big Wall Street conference for the first time since his decision to join Rupert Murdoch's conglomerate.

Also, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein will appear in a session about the future of content, which observers see as a special coup for UBS. Weinstein has attended the conference in the past as an observer, but he typically doesn't speak at big investor events. And Sarandos is expected to be a draw, just like his CEO Reed Hastings was at the UBS event last year, as Netflix continues to push into original content.

Movie exhibitors Carmike Cinemas, whose speaker will be CEO David Passman, and Imax, represented by CEO Rich Gelfond, will also get to address such key issues as film release windows and box office trends.

And Sirius XM Radio CFO David Frear will address the conference just ahead of the previously announced departure of CEO Mel Karmazin. Big Sirius shareholder Liberty Media is looking for a replacement.

Meanwhile, top executives from pay TV operators, including Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge, will also speak at the UBS conference. They are expected to face questions about video subscriber trends and competition from the likes of Netflix.

Media and entertainment industry investors and analysts hope to come away from the conference with any type of information or guidance that would help them update their stock recommendations for individual companies and the overall sector. After all, some analysts have remained bullish on entertainment stocks, but others have expressed concern that a sluggish economy and ratings challenges could put a lid on big sector stocks over the near term.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai