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Time Warner's Bewkes is wary of the vision thing

December 8, 2009 |  4:48 pm

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes isn't threatened by Comcast's deal to take control of NBC Universal.

BEWKES Asked at the UBS media conference in New York whether he thought his company would be at a disadvantage to Comcast, Bewkes bluntly replied "No." He then added that "we have the biggest stable of must-have networks, most of which lead their categories." He was referring to HBO, TNT, TBS, CNN and Cartoon Network, among other channels.

Bewkes also continued to be critical of big mergers that sound better on paper than they turn out in real life. He certainly knows something about that having, spent the last several years trying to undo Time Warner's ill-fated marriage with America Online.

"There are bold visions that go beyond the sight of normal humans," Bewkes said, adding that there is often danger when "you depart from the math" and go for the big vision. Bewkes said part of the problem is that many of the big media companies are still family-run (Viacom, News Corp., Comcast) and aren't always "as accountable to shareholders" as other companies.

Bewkes is not anti-deal; he said he anticipated that Time Warner would take a look at the struggling MGM but that there was nothing more to report beyond that.

As for the CW, the company's broadcast network that it co-owns with CBS, Bewkes said it is still losing money but the losses are getting smaller. "They need more hit programming," he said.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. Credit: Noah Berger / Bloomberg News