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AT&T and Time Warner try to sell their merger to Congress

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An AT&T store in Manhattan. The telecom giant and Time Warner have proposed an $85.4 billion merger.

An AT&T store in Manhattan. The telecom giant and Time Warner have proposed an $85.4 billion merger.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — AT&T and Time Warner executives were summoned to Capitol Hill Wednesday to defend their upcoming $85 billion merger.

Arguments of representatives from both companies hinged on the idea that offering more innovative services over the internet is a way to better compete with cable companies.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday that was being closely watched for how mega-mergers will be viewed in the coming Trump administration, members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that oversees regulatory agencies that decide on mergers said the deal merited tough scrutiny. The chief executives of AT&T and Time Warner were grilled at the hearing about a range of issues related to the deal.

During his opening testimony, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said that the intent of the merger “is to disrupt the existing pay TV model.” This, however, is something that’s already been done — HBO Now, a product of HBO, delivers a library of the station’s content to anyone with an internet connection without requiring they pay for a TV subscription. Time Warner did that all on its own without needing to be part of an internet service provider.

“We want to ensure that competition thrives in this critical market and we don’t stifle innovation or deter the emergence of cutting-edge technologies that customers demand,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who heads the full Judiciary Committee.

Senator David Perdue, Republican of Georgia, said the deal would combine companies that did not directly compete against one another. “The consumer is benefited from the aggregation,” he said. “That is called capitalism.”

Here’s what Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes had to say at today’s hearing:

“We do not own any cable, satellite, telephone, broadband, or distribution business. As a video content company our success depends on achieving the broadest distribution of our content. Great content is not enough. You need to deliver great consumer experiences and that’s what joining with AT&T will allow us to do.”

Time Warner no longer views the streaming service Netflix as a “complimentary” service, but finally as a real and equal competitor. Back in 2013, Bewkes brushed Netflix aside. Wednesday he said something very different:

“We’re proud of what Time Warner has accomplished but today we’re competing for consumers attention not just with other TV networks but with everyone from Netflix and Amazon to YouTube and Facebook.”

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Former MGM executive Roma Khanna named Revolt TV’s next CEO

Former MGM executive Roma Khanna named Revolt TV’s next CEO

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Roma Khanna

Sean Combs Announces Roma Khanna CEO of Revolt TV

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — Sean Combs has announced Roma Khanna the CEO of Revolt TV.

“As Revolt continues to grow as a brand and expand globally, I knew we needed a seasoned executive with a proven track record to keep the momentum going and help me lead the network into the future,” said Combs. “Roma is that person. She has the experience and tenacity to build on Revolt’s success and as we continue to influence content and culture around the world.”

“After decades of building large-scale businesses in TV and media, I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside visionary Sean Combs to get hands-on and redefine content models with a view to building a modern, relevant, global cultural brand,” said Khanna. “Revolt is ready to create and curate content and super-serve its audience on its own TV platform and beyond, living and breathing with its audience wherever they might be.”

Revolt says the company’s mission is to build on its platform to offer long- and short-form content revolving around hip-hop music and culture. According to Revolt’s website, “REVOLT is focused on expertly curating the best of the best in music and engaging youth in social conversation – on-air, on-line, on-demand. The multi-genre, multi-platform network offers breaking music news, videos, artist interviews, exclusive performances, and original programming.”

Revolt claims to have over 50 million young adult consumers through television, digital properties, social and mobile. REVOLT is accessible 24/7 – anytime, anywhere, any screen.

Khanna left MGM, where she served as president, in late 2015. She helped launch FX’s “Fargo” and History’s “Vikings.” She spent three years as president of global networks for NBC Universal’s international networks wing. She also oversaw the development of Hulu hit “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Revolt had been without a CEO for a year, since Keith Clinkscales left the company last August. Revolt launched as a linear channel in the U.S. in October 2013 and has since expanded to Africa and the Caribbean.

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Indian American Physician Vas Narasimhan Named CEO of Novartis

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Vas Narasimhan

Indian American Physician Vas Narasimhan Named CEO of Novartis

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Switzerland-based biotech giant Novartis says Indian American physician Vas Narasimhan will take reins as CEO on Feb. 1.

The 41-year-old Narasimhan joined Novartis in 2005. He currently serves as the company’s Global Head of Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer. He is also a member of Novartis’ Executive Committee.

“Both from a professional and a personal perspective, this is the right moment to hand the leadership reins of the company to Vas,” said current Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez. “Our strong pipeline and the strategic moves we have taken to focus the company have put Novartis on a strong path for the future. On the personal side, after 10 wonderful years in Switzerland, my family is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the U.S. I’m confident that Vas will be an excellent successor.”

Joerg Reinhardt, chairman of the Novartis board of directors, said the company anticipates “a smooth transition, as Joe built a strong leadership team and mentored his successor.”

Narasimhan graduated from Harvard Medical School. He also has a master’s in public policy from the university’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He earned undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago.

Prior to joining Novartis, he worked at McKinsey & Company, first as a consultant and then as an engagement manager.

An elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, Narasimhan has held a number of positions at Novartis.

Reinhardt expressed confidence in Narasimhan’s ability to lead the company to “expected next growth phase … The strength of Novartis is our ability to drive science-based innovation. Vas is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between Research and Development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements. As a physician, he has a strong patient focus and a genuine humane perspective and care for the mission and values of Novartis. As a result, the Board of Directors is confident that Vas is the right choice to lead Novartis on our expected next growth phase, driving innovation and further strengthening our competitive position.”

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Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya to raise $500M for a large fund

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Charmath Palihapitiya

Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors is attempting to raise $500 million as he builds a large investment firm.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive and a minority owner of the Golden State Warriors is attempting to raise $500 million as he builds a large investment firm.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Palihapitiya is listed as CEO of “blank check company,” Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings. The company plans to raise $500 million in its IPO and subsequently acquire emerging private businesses that have little incentive to go public.

“Our mission is to create an alternative path to a traditional IPO for disruptive and agile technology companies to achieve their long-term objectives and overcome key deterrents to becoming public,” the filing said.

Palihapitiya has often condemned the traditional venture model and expressed his admiration for billionaire Warren Buffett, who erected Berkshire Hathaway into one of the World’s largest publicly-traded holding companies over a half century.

Social Capital is going to be more like a “bastard stepchild of Berkshire Hathaway and Blackstone and BlackRock” than a traditional venture firm, Palihapitiya said at an event in 2015.

One of Palihapitiya’s goals in the venture is bringing together “technologists, entrepreneurs, and technology-oriented investors,” the filing said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Palihapitiya’s team is planning to meet with investors soon, then initiating the IPO shortly thereafter on the New York Stock Exchange.

Hedosophia has offices in Hong Kong and London. Ian Osborne, CEO of Hedosophia, will be president of the new holding company. Former Skype CEO Tony Bates and former Twitter executive Adam Bain are among the Board members.

Palihapitiya spoke to Diya TV moments after the Warriors championship win in 2017

 

 

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