How do you define big media?
Question: Is the Internet a threat to big media?
Tom Freston: No. Well it depends on what you describe as “big media”. Is Google big media now? I mean they’re worth more than most of the other media companies. There was a period of time when most of the cable companies, they were worth more, at least in Wall Street market cap terms, than the broadcast networks. It seems in media that no one ever really goes away. When something new comes out, eventually first of all people say, “Oh,” you know, “TV is gonna kill radio.” And then, “Cable TV is gonna kill TV.” And you know, “This, or that, or the other thing is gonna always kill something else.” Somehow everybody moves over on the bench and nothing really goes away. I mean some formats might go away, like the 8-track, or the cassette, or the LP. But the idea pretty much continues. And in the end the big media companies, which face a lot of challenges now . . . I mean I’m talking about the traditional TV . . . cable TV companies, they face a lot of challenges from the new media. They will eventually morph into that world, be bought by a new media company, buy one in turn, will still find ways to participate. It’s gonna be hard . . . I think it’s naïve to think that these companies are gonna crumble and fall away. I mean they’re going through a very tough transition now, as are people in any industry that have to deal with the digitization of anything. But at the end of the day, there’ll be a bunch of large companies pretty much controlling a good amount of what goes on. That seems to be, you know, the way of our capitalist system. That’s not to say that the small, independent voices still won’t be out there and be able to be heard. But the mass market as it . . . however you wanna define it will be reachable largely probably through bigger companies.
Recorded On: 7/6/07