Summary:

The media conglomerate’s profits drop 30 percent in the second quarter, as CNN’s ratings drop to levels not seen since its landmark coverage of the Gulf War 21 years ago. Meanwhile, CEO Jeff Bewkes says don’t look for HBO to go over the top anytime soon.

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For Time Warner Inc. in the second quarter, surging revenue for pay TV channels HBO, TNT and TBS couldn’t offset declines across cable news, film and print publishing.

The media conglomerate reported a 30 percent decline in profit to $430 million, with revenue falling 4 percent to $6.7 million.

Time Warner’s cable networks were up 4.7 percent in revenue to nearly $3.6 million, with assets like HBO subscriptions surging. Indeed, don’t look for HBO Go to drop pay TV authentication anytime soon, with sister channel Cinemax adding 7 million subscriptions during the period.

“The whole idea that there are a lot of people out there that want to drop multichannel TV and just have a Netflix or HBO … that’s not right,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes told investors during Wednesday morning’s conference call. “Look at the data — you won’t find it.”

Also read: Why HBO is once again TV’s most relevant network

That helped drive a 6 percent increase in subscription revenue for Time Warner to $2.17 million. The conglomerate’s operating income for pay TV channels surged 9 percent to $1.1 billion.

But it would have been a lot better, if not for the struggles of cable news network CNN, which saw its lowest ratings since 1991 — i.e. right before its Gulf War coverage turned it into a big-boy network and transformed the cable TV programming business in the process.

The ratings crisis has already claimed the job of CNN Worldwide president Jim Walton, who stepped down last week.

Also read: Why CNN’s digital strength may cause problems for Fox

“We are not satisfied with CNN’s ratings performance, and we are focused on fixing it,” Bewkes said.

Meanwhile, the conglomerate’s film division revenue declined 8 percent to $2.61 million, with Q2 2012 comparing unfavorably to a year-ago quarter that featured the theatrical release of comedy hit The Hangover Part II and the home entertainment release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

And revenue from publisher Time Inc. dropped 9 percent to $858 million, despite the migration into the group of digital assets SI.com and Golf.com from Turner Digital. Ad revenue for the devision declined 7 percent and subscription revenue plunged 13 percent. Overall publishing profit dropped 43 percent to $97 million.

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