Several of the installments in my ongoing “Media DE-consolidation” series have involved Time Warner taking apart the media mega-company it created back in 2000. [See, for example, parts 12, 14 and 21]. The relationship was a bit rocky right from the start, and things have been unraveling slowly ever since. You will recall the amazing front page story in the Wall Street Journal in 2006 in which Time Warner President Jeff Bewkes declared the death of “synergy” and, more poignantly, Bewkes went so far as to call synergy “bull—t”!
Today, another major split occurred when, as many had anticipated for some time now, TW announced the spin-off of its Time Warner Cable unit. Here’s the NYT’s summary:
Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, continued to trim what has for years been the world’s largest media company by announcing Wednesday that it would completely spin off its cable company. The news — which was not unexpected and follows an earlier transaction in which a portion of the cable unit was spun off into a separate public company — came as Time Warner reported quarterly earnings that were largely in line with Wall Street’s expectations. “We’ve decided that a complete structural separation of Time Warner Cable, under the right circumstances, is in the best interests of both companies’ shareholders,” Mr. Bewkes said Wednesday in a statement. “We’re working hard on an agreement with Time Warner Cable, which we expect to finalize soon.”
One must remember that when the marriage was struck 8 years ago, the AOL-Time Warner deal received wall-to-wall coverage and apocalyptic-minded critics claimed it represented “Big Brother,” “the end of the independent press,” and a harbinger of a “new totalitarianism.” Now that the marriage is gradually falling apart, we hear a few things about it here and there, but no one seems to care all that much. The stories are mostly buried in the pack of the business pages and receive limited coverage online. Regardless, it serves as yet another sign of how dynamic and volatile the media marketplace is today.