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Disney CEO Bob Iger on the Economy

I sat down with Disney CEO Bob Iger for an exclusive interview after the company's fiscal first quarter earnings call.

Earnings beat Wall Street expectations and came in stronger than last year thanks to stronger advertising, subscription revenue and better attendance at its US parks. But the economy continued to put pressure on results.

Iger spoke in great detail about the economy based on his perspective from Disney's parks and advertising business.

Iger says that the consumer isn't coming back just yet, saying that job security is a major issue. With housing prices still weak, Iger says they expect consumers to "buy hard" throughout the year, shopping for bargains and waiting until the last minute, looking for discounts.

When consumers change their buying patterns and make their purchases at the last minute, it's much harder for Disney to project trends going forward. So Iger wouldn't make any predictions about travel in 2010, but he said they'll continue to discount at Disney, experimenting with what deals works, to maintain the volume of visitors at the parks that they'd like to have.

The economy has taken its toll on Disney's advertising businesses, which generate about 20 percent of its revenues.

The good news is that now Iger sees the ad market strengthening; operating income and revenue growth at its broadcast network speak to just that.

Pricing at ABC is up 30 percent above the upfront ad sales period and local ads are up double digits from a year ago. Iger says that advertising is still somewhat soft, but he hopes that it will eventually return to prior levels, but he wouldn't say over what time frame.

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