WASHINGTON - Time Warner (TWX.N) Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes on Wednesday defended his company's planned merger with AT&T (T.N) as necessary to compe
WASHINGTON – Time Warner (TWX.N) Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes on Wednesday defended his company’s planned merger with AT&T (T.N) as necessary to compete effectively for advertising with internet giants like Google and Facebook.
Bewkes told Judge Richard Leon, who will decide if the $84.5 billion deal may go forward, that the Justice Department was wrong to say a merger would allow Time Warner to push for blackouts in negotiations with pay TV operators who wanted to show their content in order to allow AT&T subsidiary DirecTV to pick up more customers.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Bewkes, who has been CEO for more than 10 years. “If our channels are not in distribution we lose lots of money (from subscriptions and advertising).”
He said that “1 percent, less than 1 percent, maybe 2 percent” of subscribers would drop their pay TV subscription because of a blackout, far below the 12 percent estimated by an economist for the government who testified earlier in the trial.
He argued it was in Time Warner’s best interest financially to license its television channels, which range from movies to CNN to sports, broadly online.