Time Warner's COO: No Sacred Cows

Jeffrey Bewkes Tell Analysts Company Constantly Evaluating What Pieces to Keep

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Time Warner's heir apparent didn't rule out selling Time Inc. -- or any Time Warner division -- but did say this morning that the publishing unit's scale was an asset: "We're not going to start selling off magazines piecemeal," Jeffrey L. Bewkes, Time Warner's president-chief operating officer, told an audience at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in New York this morning.
Time Warner COO Jeff Bewkes told analysts there were no sacred cows when it came to assessing divisions for possible sale in the future.
Time Warner COO Jeff Bewkes told analysts there were no sacred cows when it came to assessing divisions for possible sale in the future. Credit: AP

That's about as warm as the comfort's going to get for a while, it seems, as Time Inc. tries to sell 18 titles at once, the parent company keeps working toward eliminating $2 billion in costs and Carl Icahn prepares to resume his agitation.

Healthy function
Mr. Icahn, Mr. Bewkes noted, actually performs a healthy function. Early this year, Mr. Icahn proposed breaking the company into four publicly traded baby Warners and won a few concessions (like that $2 billion in cost cuts) before backing down.

"I think he asked a very good question," Mr. Bewkes said. "I think he served as a very good -- I want to say this respectfully -- proxy for a question that should be asked. Frankly he wasn't the only one."

Though he didn't suggest anything like Mr. Icahn's break-it-up plan was actually under consideration, Mr. Bewkes said nothing was a sacred cow. "It is constantly looked at. What should we not have? Or what should we get?"

'Web 2.0' transformation
All that aside, Mr. Bewkes said executives were preparing for gains at movie studio Warner Brothers in 2007 -- especially with a new installment of the Harry Potter franchise -- and he expects to see AOL complete a transformation into a "Web 2.0 company" next year too.

Cable networks TNT and TBS finished this year's upfront ad market at the high end, he added, even as advertisers moved away from the upfront itself and certain broadcast networks hurt sales with weak "price leadership."
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