Disney Linear TV Networks “Not For Sale,” CEO Bob Iger Says – Upnewsdaily

Disney Linear TV Networks “Not For Sale,” CEO Bob Iger Says – Upnewsdaily

Shifting away from sentiments he expressed in an interview last summer that Disney‘s linear TV networks “may not be core” to the company, Disney CEO Bob Iger said they are “not for sale.”

Speaking at the New York Times DealBook Summit, Iger said his interview last July with CNBC never was intended to affix a “for sale” sign to ABC, local stations and other linear networks. Media coverage of his comments, he maintained, conveyed a more extreme version of the company’s strategic plans than what he intended, which was a trial balloon aimed at Wall Street.

“The business model that those linear channels rested on and have succeeded on top of for decades” has been one of the strategic challenges during the past year since he rejoined the company as CEO, Iger said.

“Sometimes, when I am looking for a reaction to my own thought process, I like to test that process in public, particularly in ways that I might be able to get a reaction from the investment community,” he said. “So, my thought was at the time that I would essentially be public with that thought process.”

Floating the scenario “was a means of my saying to Wall Street or the investment community that our heads were not in the sand about the challenges those businesses were having,” Iger said. “I did not want to get accused of being kind of an old media executive. Our company had already shown the ability to basically adapt to new circumstances. So, 1) I wanted to convey that and 2) see what the reaction would be. .. I did not say they were for sale. The coverage of what I said said they were for sale.”

The portfolio of linear assets are “not for sale,” Iger said. “Like all of our assets, we are constantly evaluating what is their value to the company today? What could their value be tomorrow? Is it a growth business?”

Moderator Andrew Ross Sorkin asked the Disney chief whether he still thinks linear TV is a good business. Iger said an internal evaluation of linear “has been unbelievably rigorous at the company and involves a number of executives who are managing those businesses We’ve determined a few things — 1) that they can be run more efficiently, with some difficult choices. … Second, they can be run in partnership with [streaming]. .. They’re a means of aggregating audience and amortizing costs, of basically reaching more and different people. .. Through this process of being more public about what might happen or what could happen and really rolling up sleeves to see, is this something we should do? Should they be divested? Should they be kept? If they are kept, how should they be run? They’re being run more efficiently today than in July, when I made those comments.”

Iger’s comments sparked interest from prospective buyers like Byron Allen, who has proposed taking over ABC, local stations and the FX network. Nexstar Media Group also discussed the stations and ABC. The spotlight on linear TV grew harsher in early September when Disney and Charter Communications had a carriage dispute. After a 10-day blackout on Charter’s Spectrum cable systems, the second-biggest in the country, the companies agreed to a resolution but it was one that left Freeform, FXX and other linear networks without carriage on Spectrum.

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