Bruce Rosenblum, until last month president of the Warner Bros Television Group, has become president of Legendary Television and Digital Media.Legendary is best known as a movie producer and counts Man of Steel and The Dark Knight and The Hangover franchises among its credits. It has a longstanding production pact with Warner Bros., which is currently being renegotiated. Reports from LA suggest it is likely to split from the Studio.Rosenblum will run TV and digital media at Legendary in a move that sees that unit expand. The company said that Rosenblum will oversee “producing programming across multiple linear and non-linear on-demand platforms on a global basis, as well as the development of global multi-platform digital distribution opportunities for broadband, mobile and emerging technologies”.He will report to Legendary founder and CEO Thomas Tull, who said: “Bruce has an outstanding track record in the business, and he will be instantly additive to the team in our efforts to continue to make world-class content for consumers, however and wherever they access that content.”Rosenblum said: “There has never been a better time to be producing and distributing television content. The Legendary consumer belongs to a connected, vibrant demographic, and the opportunity to develop content and strategies to reach this burgeoning audience is invigorating and exciting to me.”Rosenblum’s exit from the position of president, Warner Bros. Television Group was made official last month. He had worked at the Studio for over twenty years and his departure came amid a wide-ranging restructure initiated by new CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG president and CEO.Modern Times Group (MTG) has decided to write down the value of its Ukrainian pay TV service, Viasat Ukraine, because of continuing economic uncertainty in the country. MTG is writing down 100% of the value of the goodwill value of its 85% stake in the platform via Viastrong Holding. The company said it will include net non-recurring charges of SEK154 million (€17 million) related to the stake in its second-quarter results. The charges comprise a SEK160 million non-cash net impairment related to Viasat Ukraine and SEK70 million of organizational and restructuring costs, offset by a SEK76 million net gain from the recently completed sale of an 80% stake in Swedish open-access fibre-to-the-home network operator Zitius to TeliaSonera.According to the company, the decision was taken due to the uncertain economic outlook in Ukraine and the devaluation of the Hryvnia. Viasat Ukraine accounted for less than 1% of MTG’s net sales in 2013.MTG said its organizational restructuring, costing SEK70 million, would deliver annual cost savings of approximately SEK40 million, which would be reinvested in business intelligence and data analysis.“The impairment of the Ukrainian assets reflects the current situation, but make no mistake that we remain committed to the operations and see substantial long term potential for the business, not least given the scale of the country and the upcoming TV digitalisation process,” said Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG president and CEO.“The sale of Zitius in Sweden has generated a healthy return on investment for us, and the broader changes we have made are all about optimising our set-up so that we can continue to invest in the Group’s growth and development.”
Liberty Global CEO Mike FriesDemands for more formal network neutrality regulation is a “solution in search of a problem”, according to Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries.Liberty Global does not discriminate against traffic or provide preferences to one content source over another, said Fries. “Network neutrality is in some ways a solution is search of a problem. However we recognise that another operator might work differently. We agree there should be transparency and an open environment. At the same time we should be incentivised to invest billions in networks.”Fries said that Liberty is investing in creating broadband capacity, but added that there is a need for proper incentives to invest. He said there would be a need for some specialised services, and that there is plenty of capacity available for all application providers and will be more over time. He added that there is little need to worry about the ability of network providers to deliver content to users.Fries said the presumption that cable could not be trusted is “false”. He said that consumers in Liberty Global’s cable territories had four or five choices about where to go for broadband. “Regulation in and of itself has not done one thing to make the internet great. I would be careful [about imposing regulation] because this energy and this ecosystem has been created from scratch by entrepreneurs and industry,” he said.Fries said that operators needed a consistent approach to regulation across the EU. “We have fundamentally the same proposition [in each market],” he said.Manuel Cubero, CEO of Vodafone-owned Kabel Deutschland and managing director and executive vice-president of Vodafone Deutschland, speaking on the same panel, said that consumers and business customers paid more for higher bandwidth and lower latency times depending on the requirements that they have. He cited the examples of medical applications and automotive applications that require higher quality parameters than other services.“Quality categories are indispensable. Operators of these services will do deals with cable operators. It is not discriminatory. In the end-user segment it is more critical but it is not about having to pay at both ends. When there is a need to transmit data faster to customers and we can enable innovation, we want to be in a position to offer it,” he said. “We see that end users are willing to pay for different quality parameters.”Cubero said that 50% of KD’s revenues had been invested in its network and the company was still increasing the capacity available to consumers. This had to be financed and cable operators have to be free to establish new business models, he said.Fries and Cubero avoided answering directly a question by session moderator Werner Lauff on whether it made sense for them to combine Liberty Global and Vodafone, or arrange an asset swap that would allow them to merge their German operations.Cubero said that consolidation in itself was a positive development, and that while in the past access routes had been scarce, there was now a much wider range of fibre and high-speed mobile broadband competitors in the market. “There is no scarcity of access routes,” he said. “Economies of scale internationally are important. It is also important to be able to offer things nationwide. We support this and we have huge willingness to make investments in broadband,” he said. “We are looking forward to further consolidation and growth. Vodafone has stated its strategy of convergence.”Cubero declined to comment on the prospects for asset swaps between operators. He said that Kabel Deutshchland and Vodafone’s main focus is on convergence and creating convergent products for consumers.Fries said that Liberty Global, chairman John Malone’s widely reported comments on the desirability of a combination of his company with Vodafone were really intended as a more general statement that convergence made sense. He said that Liberty Global had purchased Belgian mobile operator BASE because it also saw the “benefits of quad-play” and cited the example of the success of quad-play in the UK with Virgin Media.“Network companies have to offer as many products as they can find,” he said.Fries said that Liberty Global was in “the connectivity business” and wants to connect consumers on all devices. It also wants to make content easily available by aggregating it in an easy to access way. “It’s all about plug-and-play,” he said. He added that providing connectivity and the best applications, possibly through partnerships, is key.