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Time Warner's Bewkes says goodbye to AOL and hello to content

December 10, 2009 | 10:30 am

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes issued a "goodbye and don't let the door hit you on the way out" memo acknowledging the official spinoff of AOL and reiterating the company's commitment to content.

"Time Warner is now a more content-focused company that's ready to reach new heights as a global leader in media and entertainment," Bewkes wrote. He then thanked AOL for "many contributions to our company." He didn't list what those contributions were, and if anyone knows, let us know. The 2001 merger of Time Warner and AOL is considered one of the worst in corporate history, costing Gerald Levin and Steve Case their legacies, and Ted Turner much of his fortune, and shareholders took a huge bath.

The next question facing Time Warner is what it will do with its publishing division, whose magazine titles include Time, People, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly. Bewkes mentioned only People in his memo, saying more people read it every week than watched the finale of last season's "American Idol." Now if People got what "American Idol" got in ad revenue, they'd really have something.

Although the company has now jettisoned AOL and its cable systems, Bewkes said, there is still more cutting to be down done. "We must continue to make our businesses more efficient," he wrote, adding, "These measures are often difficult, especially when they involve jobs and benefits, but they're sometimes necessary to keep the business strong."

Bewkes also heaped praise on Time Warner's cable networks, which includes HBO, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network. He may want to double check his ratings information, though. Bewkes wrote that CNN's "news and information draws more TV viewers than its peers." If he's talking global, then he may be right, but if he's talking here, then he's off. Fox News routinely trounces CNN, and even MSNBC has been beating up on CNN lately. We're sure the folks at Fox will soon issue a witty response to Bewkes' note.

-- Joe Flint

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