“We can no longer think of the U.S. being sufficient,” he said in a fireside chat with Charlie Rose. When you look at companies such as Facebook which he called “immense,” then “we have to figure out our role in that world. Whether it’s content or distribution.”
Business leaders including Rupert Murdoch, Brian Roberts, Barry Diller, Ted Turner, Robert Johnson, David Zaslav, and John Hendricks participated — either in person or on film — in a dinner sponsored by the UJA to give Malone its Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award.
The dinner coincidentally took place the same day Time Warner Cable was acquired by Charter — where Malone is the largest shareholder.
Comcast CEO Roberts, whose effort to buy TWC was blocked by antitrust regulators, joked that the cable company was his gift to Malone.
Asked about prospects for content. Malone says he cheered Comcast’s agreement to buy DreamWorks Animation. “Brian can do more with the asset now than Jeffrey [Katzenberg]. I like to see efficiency.”
He likes sports and news because they can “sustain themselves in a digtal age where very few things have to be watched live.”
Netflix “started a flurry of investment in TV series… It’s like a child’s soccer match. Everybody is chasing the soccer ball instead of holding their position.”
But Malone does not believe that the streaming service will destroy pay TV’s expanded basic bundle — the biggest profit source for Big Media companies.
“There’ll be a series of new video offerings,” he says. “The big bundle only breaks down if sports breaks down. Because that’s the muscle…Sports is the glue that holds the bundle together and I don’t see that coming apart any time soon.”
Looking more broadly, Malone lamented that “40% of American youth get their news from Comedy Central. It does concern you that the pubic is being treated shabbily.” He blames “a failure of the American public school system and a collapse of traditional cuture….Maybe it works out fine but we’re going through an era we’ve never been through before.”
This year’s political contests also trouble him.
“You shake your head and say this makes no sense. We have big problems and we worry about restrooms?” Malone says that too many leaders “use differences to gain political advantage…Immigration is a great example. Are you really serious that we’re going to round all these people up and kick them out? Why not have guest worker programs?”
Malone, a self-described Libertarian, also cited his objections to the tax system — famously one of his biggest concerns. He calls it “insanity” that the tax system leads some companies to keep money offshore and then import goods to the U.S.
But he has reservations about free trade. “After the Second World War there was a philosophy that we could open our door and share with the world forever. We’re past that point now.” He supports policies that he says would ensure that the U.S. isn’t a “patsy.” He also favors ambitious defense spending saying that “it’s still a dangerous world.”