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News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin

Peter Chernin

To jeopardize the value of what we have in order to be large–I just don’t see any long-term advantage there. One can assume that Rupert Murdoch would love to own The Wall Street Journal. What is in it for The Wall Street Journal? If you set the premise that it’s impossible to compete with giants, then the only real alternative is to combine with one of the giants. And if you do that you’ve lost your independence.”
Bancroft family representative Roy Hammer, the New Yorker, November 2003

Turns out Roy Hammer was right–Rupert Murdoch would love to own The Wall Street Journal. And that desire will be the white elephant in the room this morning with News Corp. President and COO Peter Chernin on the D5 stage.

  • 11:40 a.m.: Hardball question from Kara right off the bat: Why should the Bancrofts trust that News Corp. will maintain the journalistic integrity of Dow Jones?Chernin says he’d rather not comment at all. “The notion that we would change The Wall Street Journal is counterintuitive. The reason we are offering a premium is because we believe that it’s a fantastic publication. I would argue that we are the publisher and guardian of some of the finest publications in the world. We would never ‘Page 6-ify’ The Wall Street Journal.”
  • “We are excited about the newspaper business,” Chernin says. “We believe there are other enormous assets inside Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal. We are in position to take a long-term view of this.”
  • Kara: In the event of an acquisition, who controls the editorial?
    Chernin: “To the degree that we used Dow Jones editorial on the Fox business channel, Dow Jones would control its editorial.”
  • 11:45 a.m.: What about News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch’s reputation for meddling in editorial issues? Chernin dismisses the suggestion, noting that the company’s other publications aren’t complaining.
  • Kara presses Chernin about today’s Photobucket acquisition: “What’d you pay, $300 million?” Chernin: “We haven’t disclosed that yet.”
  • 11:50 a.m.: On Facebook: Chernin says Facebook is moving closer to MySpace. We believe it’s our job to innovate and offer users new applications. We see ourselves innovating internally, buying things perhaps.
  • Chernin calls Google the world’s largest advertising platform, adding that News Corp. partnered with Google over Microsoft because Google offered a better deal.
  • 11:52 a.m.: Back to MySpace. What makes MySpace unique, Chernin says, is its structured data, data culled from registration and user customization, and how it uses that to target advertising.
  • Chernin calls Facebook an excellent service, but describes it as “utilitarian.”
  • Chernin says News Corp.’s affiliation with NBC Universal is not a reaction to YouTube. What the company is trying to do, he says, is get as much content as it can and use it to create a destination site. At the same time, it hopes to syndicate that content in a copyrighted way.
  • 11:55 a.m.: We have tried to be at the forefront of new distribution technologies. Our job is to support the creation of the world’s best content and distribute it to as many people as possible. In Hollywood, there’s a push/pull. Hollywood deserves more credit than it gets for embracing new distribution technologies. On the other hand, it’s fearful of losing control of its content.
  • So how does Chernin feel about Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube? A large long sigh from Chernin, then: “We believe in the sanctity of copyright.”
  • Kara: What’s the most important Internet company right now?
    Chernin: Google.
  • 12:00 p.m.: On to the Q&A …
  • Chernin says if he were starting his own company today, it would be a digital content venture.

Peter Chernin Session Photos

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