UBS Media Week Kicks Off With Comcast, NBCU, Viacom And More


Just in case you haven’t heard enough about Comcast’s deal with GE to buy control of NBC Universal (NYSE: GE), the sell job continues bright and early Monday morning in New York at the 37th Annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. I’ll be there throughout the crowded three days, as will paidContent senior correspondent David Kaplan. The CEOs scheduled to meet with investors and analysts include Bob Iger, Disney; (NYSE: DIS) Philippe Dauman, Viacom; (NYSE: VIA) Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner; (NYSE: TWX) Leslie Moonves, CBS; (NYSE: CBS) Carol Bartz, Yahoo; (NSDQ: YHOO) Don Graham, Washington Post Co.; (NYSE: WPO) Janet Robinson, New York Times Co.; (NYSE: NYT) John Riccitiello, Electronic Arts; (NSDQ: ERTS) and, with the latest Oprah update, David Zaslav, Discovery.

A few quick thoughts about what to expect — or not:

— This time last year, Time Warner was about to spin off Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and one of the biggest questions left was whether AOL would follow. TWC spun out as planned and this week AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong will meet with investors the day AOL leaves the TWX universe. The next pressing question for Bewkes: is Time Inc. next? We’re about as likely to get an answer to that as we are to get the date that Hulu starts offering premium or to hear a bullish presentation from a newspaper publisher. As for Armstrong, look for another round of lowering expectations mixed with a salesman’s confidence.

— This conference is also known for advertising analysis and projections so expect duelling numbers over the next few days. Will the mood stay slightly upbeat or is another new reality on the way?

— Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) and NBCU are supposed to bookend Day 1, starting with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, COO Steve Burke and CFO Michael Angelakis and winding up with current/future NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker. The execs have been busy pitching since the media industry’s worst-kept M&A secret finally went official last Thursday; both companies sent their top lobbyists on the DC rounds Friday for the start of what promises to be a long process. Comcast has done everything its team can think of to mitigate investor concerns about the effect the deal might have on the rest of the company and on the stock price, including raising the dividend 40 percent and committing to completing a major stock buyback, so their response — and questions — should be interesting.

— News Corp (NYSE: NWS). designated hitter COO Chase Carey is on deck, too, so between get ready for another round of Hulu pushmi-pullyu following Thursday’s Comcast confusion over premium. Iger can bat clean-up on the subject Wednesday.

Here are links to the full agenda (pdf) and the webcast schedule (not all companies participate).

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