Turner CEO Calls Government "Clueless" About AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Left, Phillip Faraone, right, Ethan Miller, both Getty Images
Nancy Dubuc, John Martin

"I have DirecTV," John Martin told the Code Media crowd. "It's not that good."

Turner CEO John Martin thinks his future bosses at AT&T have some work to do. 

The telecommunications giants "have let us down," Martin on Tuesday told attendees at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, California. When asked if he meant AT&T, which is in the process of acquiring Turner parent company Time Warner, the exec responded, "I have DirecTV. I live in Beverly Hills. It's not that good. They have not innovated quickly enough." 

Martin's point was that the legacy media companies need to focus on the customer experience as much as on the content they are producing. By the time they catch up to Netflix and other streaming video providers, he added, "nobody is going to be watching anymore because they're all going to be on the non-advertising supported platforms." 

Martin was joined onstage by A+E Networks chief Nancy Dubuc, who fielded questions about the Amazon Studios chief job and Vice Media. Together, they discussed the impact of media consolidation on their businesses, and Martin expressed frustration about the lengthy regulatory approval process for AT&T's proposed $85 billion deal. 

"I think the government is clueless," he said, explaining that the Department of Justice should be more concerned about stopping Facebook and Google from growing too large. "It's a massive misallocation of resources and capital to fight this thing. They're going to lose." 

Dubuc, too, said that the deal has become "a huge distraction" within Hollywood. 

Martin appeared confident that the deal would eventually go through without Time Warner selling off Turner or CNN. "We have an army of people who are incredibly talented and are working hard towards making the outcome what they think it should be," he said, adding, "Whatever happens, happens. The future is really bright, no matter what happens."