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Jeff Bewkes Exclusive on Time Warner Earnings

Jeffrey Bewkes
Jeffrey Bewkes

Time Warner reported its fastest growth in two years and CEO Jeff Bewkes says media is back: "We're looking at a very strong performance in the middle of this economic situation."

I spoke exclusively with Bewkes after Time Warner's earningscall: the company posted 7 percent higher profit, 8 percent higher revenue, and raised its full year adjusted EPS outlook to 20 percent over 2009.

Bewkes says that ad strength is continuing into the third quarter with scatter market pricing up 20 percent over Upfront pricing. Networks — Turner and HBO — led the company's growth, on 14 percent higher ad revenue and 9 percent higher subscriptions.

The ad number is key, particularly because ratings at Turner have been slipping in recent quarters.

Higher earnings doesn't necessarily translate to hiring for Time Warner .

Bewkes says the company hasn't been doing layoffs and as the business continues to grow he thinks they'll be hiring.

But Bewkes was wary to commit to adding jobs, saying, "One of the ways I think you make more money is by creating more efficiency."

Does Bewkes regret not selling Time Inc. when the market was more robust?

He says no, that the magazine unit is expected to post very strong earnings growth, bolstered by a return in ads in almost every category, from autos, to pharmaceuticals, to financials. He's also bullish about the potential for magazines on Apple's IPad .

Bewkes says that soon its magazine subscribers will be able to access titles on the iPad and every other tablet device — this is news since Time Inc. doesn't yet offer subscription access to its magazines on the iPad. I asked specifically if Time Inc. needed to sign a specific subscription deal through iTunes in order to be successful and he said "no we don't."

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When asked if he regrets that Time Warner parted with Time Warner Cable, now that Comcast is in the midst of buying CNBC's parent company NBC Universal in a $30 billion deal, Bewkes said, very simply, "no."

He has been streamlining Time Warner to focus only on content, also spinning of AOL last December. He points out that the spinoff has benefited both Time Warner and Time Warner Cable shareholders.

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