Time Warner wants to make love, not war, based on execs’ comments this morning in a quarterly conference call with analysts. Turner Broadcasting CEO John Martin says he doesn’t get Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen’s “antagonistic and aggressive” trash talk yesterday about the Time Warner channels following the satellite company’s decision this month to drop CNN and other ad-supported services except TNT and TBS. “We were working hard to get a deal done,” Martin says. “We were supportive of a Dish effort and we found common ground on virtually all the major issues there.”
Similarly, HBO chief Richard Plepler threw a bucket of ice water on the popular fantasy that his plan to launch a direct-to-consumer online service represents an attack on the traditional pay TV bundle. He’s most interested in working with cable operators to persuade some 70M subscribers who don’t buy HBO to sign up, and then appeal to about 5M cable broadband-only customers.
Also in the call, CEO Jeff Bewkes and others provided a cautiously upbeat description of the TV ad market. Here’s the play-by-play of their call: