AT&T media chief promises no culture clashes with CNN, TBS

AT&T's John Stankey announces the company's tie-up with DirecTV after the deal completed in late 2015 in a screenshot from a promotional video. Image: AT&T
AT&T media business CEO John Stankey (Screenshot: AT&T media kit video)

As John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T’s new media business, prepares for his new role following the $85 billion Time Warner merger, he’s promising business as usual for the company’s key networks.

In an interview with the New York Times, Stankey was questioned on issues like the blowback over Samantha Bee’s recent comments and President Donald Trump’s continued criticisms of CNN. He applauded how TBS and CNN have handled or continue to handle both instances.

“People who are running the creative process are professionals at running the creative process. I don’t believe that AT&T—the historical AT&T—by its nature brings much capability or intellectual property to do that better,” Stankey said.

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With Turner CEO John Martin reportedly leaving Time Warner, Stankey will have David Levy, president of Turner; Gerhard Zeiler, president of Turner International; and Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide all reporting directly to him.

Elsewhere in the interview, Stankey addressed the question of whether AT&T would raise the amount of money HBO is investing in content. HBO currently spends around $2.5 billion annually, compared to Netflix’s $8 billion per year. He said HBO has a “an opportunity to do even more.”

Stankey also anticipated more streaming and direct-to-consumer services from brands across Time Warner’s portfolio.

“Whether it’s HBO or Turner or CNN or any other assets, over time you have to have direct relationship with the consumer where you can gauge how many minutes, or how many hours, you’re getting with that end user. And that is the North Star we’re following here,” Stankey said.