Mar 18, 2006

From One Jeff To Another

"There doesn't seem to be any clear data that anything would be better off separate than together."

Jeffrey Bewkes said this not too long ago in light of the would-be coup of Carl Icahn. For those that don't know, Mr. Bewkes is the President and COO of Time Warner. He's the boss of the guy who's the boss of Cartoon Network, just so you know. His quote is nice and true. There isn't any proof that anything would be better off separate than together.

If only he wasn't a hypocrite.

I have a problem with people who say one thing and do another, and Bewkes isn't adhering to that sage statement he said because, believe it or not, Time Warner is the most separate conglomerate on the planet. They're not united in any way nor do they try to work together to help each other out. They're still acting like they're separate entities rather than a united corporate entity like, say, Viacom.

Seriously, the best-run entertainment conglomerate out there is Viacom. Even after the CBS dimerger, Viacom units work well together, sharing properties and developing new ventures together. Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, MTV, BET, Spike TV, and all the units still work together on various endeavors. Their properties are distributed together. Their digital services are joined together (when my local cable company added a new Free View On Demand tier, they didn't just get a Nickelodeon or an MTV channel, they added all the availiable MTV Networks to the tier). Their broadband endeavors are developed together (you think it was just a coincidence that Comedy Central's Motherload and MTV's Overdrive debuted within a month of each other?). Viacom is the definition of unity.

Time Warner is the antithesis of unity.

Warner Bros.-made sitcoms and dramas are on (or will be moving to) TV Land, Nick at Nite, ABC Family, American Life, and In2TV. New Line's Blade is going to air on Spike TV. And the last cable home of Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, and Pinky and the Brain was Nicktoons Network before moving to In2TV.

In2TV? What's that?

I'll tell you why they're doing In2TV.

Jeffrey Bewkes doesn't like Turner Broadcasting and they would rather experiment with broadband television rather than, god forbid, create a new general entertainment network housed at Turner.

As In2TV has proved, Warner Bros. has enough shows to program an entire TV Land-like network. The problem is that to do that, they would have to rely on Turner Broadcasting to manage it. Afterall, the basic cable network unit of Time Warner IS Turner. Realizing that would give the Turner unit more power, Bewkes (who is the only member of the Turner coup of '01 still at Time Warner and in a position of power) would rather shell out a lot of resources to an untested format like broadband entertainment, still unaccessable by a large segment of our country, than spend money and actively create a cable network, something Time Warner hasn't done in this country in over five years.

Icahn was right. Perhaps Time Warner would have been better off if they was managed by a new group of individuals. After all, there doesn't seem to be any clear data that anything would be better off separate than together. Perhaps somebody should remind Jeff Bewkes about that.

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