Richard Parsons, chairman/ceo of titan Time Warner, believes the convergence of traditional media and the internet is "inevitable ... the little guy will ultimately be consolidated".
Speaking at a New York meeting of political and media luminaries, Parsons acknowledged that TW's 2001 merger with America Online had not been an unqualified success. But he stressed the media giant was the only one with a clear internet strategy, namely to boost online advertising. Its rivals, like News Corporation were playing catch-up
Of the AOL venture he said: "The timing was about as abysmal as one could hope for. The price was wrong . . . We tried to make it work . . . We just couldn't, not with the original structure."
He also admitted the company was in talks with major players such as Microsoft and Yahoo and a partnership of Google and Comcast to sell a stake in AOL, but he hinted TW would want to retain some control.
He said: "We want to help our other companies to take advantage of the internet and it would be easier if we retained part of AOL after a deal goes through."
TW has seen its share value plummet since the ill-starred merger and is under pressure from interventionist investor Carl Icahn to act quickly to reverse its fortunes. He is demanding a $20 billion (€16.71bn; £11.29bn) stock buyback and the cable division spin-off.
The company's recent announcement of a $7.5bn increase in its buyback scheme, to a total of $12.5bn over the next 21 months [WAMN: 04-Nov-05], sent share prices up by 2%.
Parsons added: "We're already on a path to [do what Mr Icahn wants], but we're doing it more slowly than he would like."
As for what is missing from the vast TW stable? "Wireless and games. Games online and computer games are becoming a huge, huge business, with young males 18 to 35."
The wireless front is already being attacked through the company's joint venture with telecoms giant Sprint Nextel to provide cable TV through cellphones [04-Nov-05]
Data sourced from AdAge.com and reuters.com; additional content by WARC staff