Posted tagged ‘Time Warner’

Time Warner, Viacom Reach New Deal

January 2, 2009

Time Warner Cable and Viacom have finalized details on an agreement that will allow Time Warner customers to continue to watch programming on Viacom’s MTV Networks.

From the New York Times:

The ball had already dropped in Times Square, but MTV Networks and Time Warner Cable kept talking into the early new year and concluded a deal in principle that ensured that shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “The Colbert Report” would still be available to the 13.3 million subscribers to the Time Warner Cable service.

The final terms, which were not disclosed, will be worked out in talks in the next few days, an executive at Viacom, the parent of MTV, said.

The two sides had faced a deadline of midnight to renew the contract under which Time Warner pays MTV a rights fee for its 20 cable networks, which include MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, TV Land, BET and Spike.

Viacom demanded an increase of about 23 cents per subscriber to cover its full portfolio of channels, under a threat that it would remove all 20 networks from Time Warner’s systems. Viacom’s chief executive, Philippe P. Dauman, said the increase was justified because MTV Networks had been underpriced compared with other cable networks with fewer viewers.

From CNN:

A source close to the negotiations told CNN that TWC is expected to agree to pay a modest increase to Viacom in the new deal.

The developing agreement is expected to benefit both companies and their audiences, Viacom chief Philippe Dauman said.

On Wednesday, TWC customers faced the prospect that channels such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV could go dark as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

The dispute arose after Viacom announced new fees for carrying its networks – adding up to $39 million a year on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars TWC is already paying to Viacom, according to TWC spokesman Alex Dudley.

Dudley described the 15% overall increase in fees as “unreasonable,” since programming rates are declining and the United States is facing terrible economic conditions.

TWC  – a publicly traded unit of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN – says it’s working to protect its customers’ interests, but Viacom argued the renewal fees were reasonable and modest when considering the profits TWC enjoys from Viacom networks.

According to Viacom, the new fees would amount to less than 2.5% of what TWC generates from their average customer.

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Time Warner May Lose ‘Daily Show’, ‘Colbert Report’ and ‘SpongeBob’

December 31, 2008

Viacom Inc. said today that its Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and 16 other channels will go dark for 13 million subscribers at 12:01 a.m. (ET) tomorrow if a new carriage fee deal with Time Warner Cable is not agreed upon by then.

From the Associated Press:

The impasse would mean “SpongeBob” and other popular shows like Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report” will be cut off on the nation’s second-largest cable operator. Time Warner Cable primarily serves people in New York state, the Carolinas, Ohio, Southern California and Texas.

Viacom has asked for fee increases of between 22 percent and 36 percent per channel, or a total of $39 million more, an amount that could increase customers’ cable bills, said Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley.

“The issue is that they have asked for an exorbitant increase in their carriage fees and their network ratings are sagging,” Dudley said. “Basically we’re trying to hold the line for our customer.”

Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew disputed the figure, saying Viacom requested an increase in the very low double-digit percentage range.

Viacom said the increases would cost an extra 23 cents a month per subscriber. It said that Americans spend a fifth of their TV time watching Viacom shows but its fees make up less than 2.5 percent of the Time Warner cable bill.

“We make this request because Time Warner Cable has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long,” Viacom said.

“Ultimately, however, if Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and the rest of our programming is discontinued — over less than a penny per day — we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous,” Viacom said.

Former AOL Chief Executive Looking to Buy Yahoo?

December 3, 2008

According to reports, former AOL chief executive Jonathan Miller is talking to investors about raising money to purchase all or part of Yahoo.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Miller, who ran AOL from 2002 to 2006, has been sounding out private-equity investors and sovereign-wealth funds for months, and it is unclear where the talks stand, these people say.

Mr. Miller believes he can fashion a deal that would be worth about $20 to $22 a share to Yahoo shareholders, these people say, which would involve raising about $28 billion to $30 billion to purchase the entire company.

Some large Yahoo shareholders and board members were not aware of the talks Tuesday, suggesting Mr. Miller’s discussions are informal. Mr. Miller did not respond to requests for comment, and a spokeswoman for his investment firm declined to comment. A Yahoo spokesman declined comment.

Other people close to Yahoo expressed skepticism that Mr. Miller would succeed in lining up investors. Given banks’ reluctance to lend money right now, financing a deal of this size would be extremely difficult, even from deep-pocketed sovereign-wealth funds.

An investment in Yahoo would also be risky amid the current slump in advertising and during the company’s search for a new chief executive. Sovereign investors have lost money on many large investments in the past year and may be reluctant to make a bet on a company with Yahoo’s challenges.

It is unclear whether Microsoft Corp., which has indicated it is still open to doing a search deal with Yahoo, would be involved. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

From CNN Money:

Yahoo’s fate is becoming more convoluted every day. Just two days after the Times of London reported that talks between Microsoft and Yahoo were back on, the the Wall Street Journal says former AOL chief executive Jonathan Miller is trying to raise money from private equity and sovereign wealth investors to buy the struggling Internet company.

Shares of Yahoo spiked 11% to $12.50 in mid-day trading on the news that Miller wants to raise between $28 billion to $30 billion to buy the company at $20-$22 a share.

Calls to Miller’s office were not returned.

Some are skeptical that Miller will be able to succeed. Wrote Standard & Poor’s Internet analyst Scott Kessler in a note, “We think YHOO is attractively valued, but that Miller would have difficulty raising this amount of capital, given the state of the global economy, of capital markets, and of YHOO itself.”

Miller has close ties with Yahoo and activist investor Carl Icahn. Miller was nominated to Yahoo’s board last August as part of a settlement which gave Icahn three seats. However, Miller withdrew because former employer Time Warner (which also owns Fortune) would not waive a non-compete clause. Miller, who runs venture firm Velocity Interactive Group, was a consultant to Microsoft and Yahoo during their negotiations earlier this year.

Yahoo To Layoff Up to 1,500 Workers

October 22, 2008

Times are tough all over right now. Even some of the Silicon Valley’s giants are not immune to a struggling economy. Battered by plunging profits and a rough economic outlook, Yahoo announced yesterday that it will layoff at least 10% of its staff,  amounting to up to 1,500 jobs. I guess none of them will be buying the new Android phone today.

From the New York Times:

Yahoo said Tuesday that it would lay off at least 10 percent of its 15,000 workers as it tries to bring down its expenses. It said reduced marketing budgets had taken a bite out of its online advertising business, sending its net income for the third quarter tumbling by 64 percent.

The company also lowered its revenue projections for the remainder of the year and said it was too early to make forecasts for 2009.

The results come as strategic moves that Yahoo has been considering, including a search advertising partnership with its rival Google and a merger with Time Warner’s AOL unit, have gotten bogged down, leaving the company with few options but to cut expenses, analysts said.

“They just have to batten down the hatches, lighten the load and ride this thing out,” said Jeffrey Lindsay, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

“Hopefully,” he added, “they will make it to the other side with their cash intact, presumably as a smaller and more efficient organization.”

From CNNMoney:

Yahoo had 15,200 employees at the end of the third quarter. The much-anticipated round of layoffs comes on the heels of another 1,000 job cuts in late January.

“We have been disciplined about balancing investments with cost management all year, and have now set in motion initiatives to reduce costs and enhance productivity,” said Yahoo co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang in a written statement.

“The steps we are taking this quarter should deliver both near-term benefits to operating cash flow, and substantially enhance the nimbleness and flexibility with which we compete over the long term,” he added.

In a conference call after the results were announced, Yang said the company was working to reduce costs in other ways than just slashing jobs, including relocating offices and consolidating real estate. “We are identifying ways we can operate more efficiently,” he said.

From USA Today:

The Silicon Valley company announced the latest round of cuts against a backdrop of poor third-quarter results and a grim economic forecast. The company’s profit tumbled 64%, to $54 million, or 4 cents per share, from $151 million, or 11 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

It is Yahoo’s second significant round of layoffs this year. In January, the troubled Internet giant laid off 1,000 workers, but the cuts have done little to assuage investor confidence.