Time Warner's Bewkes Mum on Time

Sees no cord cutting from higher cable bills; HBO originals staying on HBO

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes was mum Monday on a potential sale of Time Inc. but said cost cuts and assets sales in real estate, back office and elsewhere are part of four-pronged effort to spur fast growth.

The others: surging affiliate fees and higher revenue from international and video-on-demand, Bewkes told investors at a media conference held by Deutsche Bank in Florida.

Bewkes declined to describe publisher Time, which has held talks in recent weeks with smaller rival Meredith Corp., as a non-core asset, or not. And it’s not clear if the talks are ongoing. But Time Warner has been pouring cash into television and film production and already cut lose businesses like Time Warner Cable, AOL and Warner Music judged nonessential to its filmed entertainment hub.

Bewkes is also laser-focused on TV Everywhere, a big defender of the industry’s ability to keep a lock on the current ecosystem if can offer easy, attractive ways for people to find and watch shows.

If cable companies “don’t offer an interface that is as good as what the brand video guys offer, eventually they will drive everyone away. But that’s not a rights issue, it’s an interface issue,” he said.

There’s not much evidence of cord-cutting so far, he said, despite rising cable prices. “If the price is too high, you’d expect to see people revolting in some way,” he said, but nobody buys the lower priced packages.

Asked yet again about Netflix’s foray into original programming with series “House of Cards,” which it slapped on its service in its entirety, he reiterated the importance of the “water cooler effect” for new episodes of HBO series.

“We don’t think the new stuff needs to go that way,” he said. Most other networks shares his view.

“Should CBS take “Revolution” and license it to NBC? It doesn’t seem like a great idea.”

“We do get together and talk about it,” he said. But “it’s not a lot of money. We think there’s more money in having it (HBO originals) on HBO and furthering the penetration of HBO.”

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