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Karmazin: Much More Media Consolidation Needed

Ad-supported media in for rocky future, says former CBS CEO

Mel Karmazin, former president and CEO of CBS and then Sirius Radio, pushed the media to consolidate in much more meaningful ways to compete with the merging advertisers and agencies it works alongside. Accepting his Giants of Broadcasting award in New York, Karmazin spoke at length on the need to partner up in order to keep this golden age of content moving forward. “We need a whole lot more media consolidation to take place,” he said, citing recent mergers in the tech and brewing arenas. “Our advertisers are merging, the agencies are merging, and we’re still dealing with a very, very fragmented world.”

Other recipients of the 2015 Giants of Broadcasting prizes, given out by the Library of American Broadcasting, include Tegna president and CEO Gracia Martore, master producer/director Don Mischer and veteran writer/producer Bill Persky. Most awardees use the podium to reflect on fond memories and salute old friends, while Karmazin used it to challenge the media leaders in the room to consider chatting each other up.

“I don’t know why on earth further consolidation would not be in order,” said Karmazin, who also blasted the Washington regulatory environment, mentioning how it took 17 months and several Congressional hearings to marry satellite radio players XM and Sirius. A politically motivated FCC should “just be out of the merger business,” he added, the regulatory process left to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.

He saluted Netflix and Amazon for shaking up the television world, and said ad-dependent, as well as ratings-dependent, models are in a tight spot. “Any business that depends on advertising is going to be far more challenged,” he said.

Broadcasting & Cable