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Jeff Bewkes Points to Time Warner’s ‘Deep Bench’ for CEO Succession

Jeff Bewkes suggested during Time Warner’s annual shareholders meeting today on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank that candidates to eventually replace him as CEO will come from inside the company.

Bewkes was pressed by a shareholder on the succession question as shareholders considered various proposals on the agenda for the meeting, including an effort to separate the roles of chairman and CEO in order to ensure the chairman’s post is held by an independent TW director. Shareholders easily defeated that measure, which only drew 26% support in the vote, according to preliminary tallies.

All 12 incumbent board members were reelected with the support of more than 83% of voting shareholders.

On the succession question, Bewkes noted that he will be 65 when his existing employment contract expires in 2017.

“We are better positioned with executive talent than any other media company,” Bewkes said. “We feel good about that. I feel pretty good right now. At the end of the current term of my contract I would be 65. We have to figure out what we want to do, what I want to do and what the board wants to do. We have a deep bench of internal successors if I were to be finishing in 2017.”

At one point, Bewkes defended the editorial integrity of CNN’s editorial focus after a lengthy comment from a shareholder about what he deemed the channel’s liberal bias and failure to adequately cover stories such as the Benghazi terrorist attacks in 2012.

Another shareholder pressed the execs about Warner Bros. following Marvel’s example rather than leading as an innovator with its DC Comics adaptations.

Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara noted the film and TV coordination at the studio in launching TV properties such as “Gotham” and “The Flash” amid long-range planning for DC features.

DC topper Diane Nelson gave credit to Marvel for the company’s ability to “engineer a universe” of superhero characters but said DC’s plan was to groom new franchises by taking a character-by-character, property-by-property approach.

“We’re doing it differently,” she said. “For us it’s about the right story, the right character and the right creative talent.”

Nelson was also pressed on the need for more female superheroes. She assured the shareholder that she and her team are focused on the question of “how can we lead the business in terms of female characters for the future.”

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