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NOT FOR SALE: Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner Inc.’s chief executive officer, on Friday put to rest rampant rumors the media conglomerate is looking to get out of the magazine business. “Time Inc. is not for sale,” Bewkes told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg during a two-day forum dubbed “First Draft of History,” where high-profile journalists interviewed policymakers and industry titans in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute and the Newseum. “People make these rumors because they want a lot of activity,” added Bewkes.
Time Warner’s shares rose on Monday following speculation the company might eventually sell Time Inc. The company’s largest shareholder, Gordon Crawford of The Capital Group, sparked the widespread speculation about Time Warner’s intentions last weekend when he said the company could sell off Time Inc. and turn its focus to movies and television.
Bewkes also dispelled any notion Time Warner might be interested in purchasing NBC Universal, amid reports Comcast is making a bid for NBC. He said Time Warner is “on a very solid course.” While acknowledging magazines are “having a bit of an advertising recession,” Bewkes still sees plenty of room for growth.
“The thing that is certainly true of all magazines is the readership is solid; the readership is holding up,” said Bewkes. “I think the magazine business has plenty of expansion in it. You do have to think carefully about how celebrity magazines like People, and news magazines like Time and [sports publications] like Sports Illustrated are going to evolve as they move and add not just print versions but Internet-based versions.”
Also speaking at the event, Google chairman and ceo Eric Schmidt said openness and lack of anonymity will be important pieces of how technology and politics interact. While the nature of politics hasn’t changed, the Internet age makes it difficult to tell the “true voter from the imposter,” he said, just as it is harder to tell which photos have been doctored and which are real.
“A focused minority can pollute the majority with disinformation that looks like what the majority thinks,” he said.
As technology makes access to information ubiquitous, it will be ever more important that users, particularly students, are equipped to sort through the information, Schmidt said.