After many years as a TV news reporter and producer, Tom Wolzien has for the past 10 years provided financial research on large publicly traded media companies to institutional investors including pension and mutual funds. He is now senior media analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. In his conference presentation, he described various aspects of the news business, including the relative capitalization of the nation’s leading media companies.
Jim Kennedy: If consolidation is an inevitability and if journalism is a tinier and tinier asset in a larger company, what are the implications of that? If we have big companies like AOL, with the preponderance of assets not being journalistic, what is that going to produce?
Tom Wolzien: With $40 billion of revenues at AOL and about $25 billion each at Disney and Viacom, the issue is not whether the resources are there, the issue is the allocation of the resources. And I think the implications are that as long as news is useful to the greater corporate issues of the companies, it will get support. It falls on everybody on the news side to keep proving why they’re so valuable to the corporate parent. That’s part of the selling not just to the Street but internally.