CEO Forum: Media mogul Diller on Twitter, Ticketmaster, etc.

A: I would have loved to have played in (the digital media revolution) in television and motion pictures. I think it would have been interesting, and I think we would have done OK with that asset.

I didn't do it because I was chicken. I had just come from being a corporatist, and I clutched at the last minute and I shouldn't have, and I know what it was due to. It was due to lack of experience. And it was a good lesson for me because it taught me not to do that.


Q: You said a few years ago that you were concerned the cable industry would take over broadband. Is that still a concern?

A: I very much believe in net neutrality. We have all lived through a world which has been dominated by distribution scarcity. There were only so many cable programs you could have because (cable operators) conned everybody into thinking that (their lines) could only carry so much. But, they were interested in it being scarce. They could say (to programmers): If you want to get on, give us half your business. It was a great scam while it lasted, this idea of scarcity.

Well, the Internet is this miracle. It is an absolutely extraordinary idea that you can press a send button, and you are publishing to the world.

And what cable companies want and telephone companies want, of course, is to say: No, wait a minute. If you're going to publish a book, you publish to us, and then we transmit it on from there. And, therefore, we want the Internet not to be neutral. We have invested all this money, and this is how we'll get our return. I think that's a horrendous idea.

Q: Time Warner Cable's been talking about usage-based pricing for broadband.

A: Well, I'm not against usage. You pay for electricity only by how much you use. I don't think there's anything wrong with paying, so long as it's a common carrier — meaning there has to be regulated pricing like there is for utilities, which is not going to happen.

So, I think the idea of charging for usage is a good idea. The problem is: If you've got little competition there, then the prices can just be, excuse me, ridiculous.

Print and TV

Q: What's the future of print media in the Internet age?

A: If you've got ink on your hands, which means that you're a print person, you're finished. These news-gathering organizations depended upon being the only place in town. And everybody has advertising now. So, it's a very tough transition.

You're going to pay for information that you want. And you're going to pay directly, which means there's going to be either micropayments or subscriptions. Advertising in the new world order can't support much of anything. Therefore, you're going to have hybrid business models that are going to have subscription revenues and other types of revenues.

We're going to have professional news-gathering operations. I do not think we're going to be a world where we're going to have citizen reporters doing all of the work. I think that it's going to be a really tough period, it will get worse, and then I think it will come out the other end by being supported by other revenue streams.

Q: How about TV's big-budget shows?

A: No. Forty years ago you had three channels. Then, with cable, you had more channels. But we're just getting to the point where there's enough bandwidth that we're going to have unlimited opportunity to get whatever we want.

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