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Can Intel Handle HBO, TBS? Time Warner’s Bewkes Has Doubts

Time Warner topper open to idea of packaging HBO with broadband

TIme Warner topper Jeff Bewkes pooh-poohed the notion of broadband-only distribution of traditional TV programs, suggesting that Intel Corp., Sony Corp., Microsoft Corp. and other potential players in the space faced a bevy of challenges.

“I’m a little skeptical about whether that’s really going to happen and be done in a healthy way that can take the traffic that used to be on the interstate, which is what you are doing on your TV, and move it over,”  said the TIme Warner chairman and chief executive, speaking at an investor conference being held by Goldman Sachs. He cited questions about “capacity” and “quality of service” as well as “questions of advertising measurement.”

Intel is one of several tech or media concerns that has evidenced interest in offering a package of TV-networks via broadband, without a subscriber having to also receive traditional TV service.  But Bewkes suggested the amount of traffic such services might create in terms of bandwidth and downloads would cause a strain and issues of capacity that would require usage fees, rather than a simple subscription.

Bewkes did say, however, that TIme Warner was open to the idea of packaging HBO with a broadband offering from cable,satellite and telecommunications companies. The broadband package would give distributors an edge in trying to sell their services to subscribers, while protecting them from people who might want to watch their favorite TV networks without subscribing, he said.

“They need to be healthy for this to work,” he said of distributors.

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