Media: AT&T puts stamp on Time Warner
AT&T this week replaced the longtime heads of HBO and Turner, moving to remold the media empire it acquired in its $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner, said Edmund Lee and John Koblin in The New York Times. Robert Greenblatt, a former NBC and Showtime executive, takes over to run the properties for AT&T as the new chairman of Warner Media. The Justice Department last week lost a final bid to unwind the merger, and AT&T has now turned “an eye toward reinvention.” The executive changes are part of a reorganization effort to position AT&T as “part telecommunications behemoth and part media-entertainment giant.”
Investors haven’t been kind to AT&T since the Time Warner merger last June, said Tara Lachapelle in Bloomberg.com, and they didn’t like the loss of HBO’s chief. But AT&T does need to make changes—“there’s a reason Time Warner became M&A prey.” Shows such as Game of Thrones are blockbusters, “but the long waits between new seasons and new series motivate viewers to cancel.” HBO needs to “churn out” more shows and create a streaming service to compete with Netflix. If AT&T can fix this, the merger will look like an astute deal. If not, AT&T’s own CEO could be the next top executive to go.