TimeWarner holds “intimate” annual meeting in Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

It was Atlanta’s turn in the TimeWarner rotation.

The multi-faceted media company held its annual meeting in Atlanta Friday morning at the Omni Hotel — providing shareholders an upbeat picture of the company and its three major operating units.

Atlanta is home to Turner Broadcasting System, which owns TNT, the Cartoon Network, CNN among a host of other cable channels.

“This is a good intimate gathering,” said Jeffrey Bewkes, TimeWarner’s chairman and CEO, obviously commenting on the fact that not a huge crowd of shareholders attended the meeting.

But Bewkes was quick to thank Phil Kent, CEO of Turner Broadcasting, and the Atlanta team for hosting the meeting.

Overall, Bewkes boasted at how all three divisions are doing well — permitting the company to increase its earnings per share by 32 percent in 2010 and by nearly 70 percent in the last two years. The company’s annual sales totaled $26.9 billion.

“2010 was a stand-out year for us,” Bewkes said. “Each of our businesses performed really well.”

Bewkes then gave quick updates on all facets of the business — Turner Broadcasting, Warner Brothers and Time Inc. And then he treated the audience to a series of trailers of new movies, television shows and programs that would be launched during the year.

The official part of the meeting was less dramatic with the exception of the one shareholder proposal that failed because it was one percentage point shy of a majority.

The shareholder proposal, which received 49 percent of the vote, requested that the board permit written consent by shareholders to bring up issues outside the normal annual meeting.

The company had recommended that shareholders vote against it.

During the question-answer period, several questions related to the standards of programming and content at the various media properties.

One shareholder questioned whether the magazine division would resort to “tabloid” style journalism to increase readership.

“At Time Inc., we are actually officially and contractually obligated to maintain the highest standards in journalism,” answered John Huey, Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief. Huey actually began his journalism career in Atlanta, and for many years he lived in Atlanta while commuting weekly to New York City.

Let’s hope that despite the sparse attendance, TimeWarner will keep Atlanta and Turner Broadcasting in its annual meeting rotation.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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