Zaslav Says Ad Market Has "Slowed a Bit"

OWN will continue to lose money ‘for a period of time'
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Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that the ad market has slowed a bit, but that there were no signs of a big decline.

Zaslav, speaking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York Wednesday, said scatter prices remain 20% above upfront prices, but added that Discovery went into the market early and now has little inventory to sell.

He added that cancellations of upfront buys have been normal and the calendar upfront market appears normal. "There are no flags there," he said.

"It does feel like there's a disconnect from the economy," he said, noting that if the economy "goes soft, we will be affected." But he added that as a pure-play cable company, 50% of its revenue comes from affiliate fees, which are determined by long-term distribution agreements.

Asked about the money-losing Oprah Winfrey Network, Zaslav said that the losses at OWN "will increase for a period of time," and that Discovery will continue to contribute funding to the joint venture.

But he added that "if our chips were on the table right now, we'd feel very good about letting it ride."

He said that Winfrey is now on the channel and as it adds more content that connects with fans, "over 2-3 years you're going to see a successful network. :"We're very committed to it," he said.

Zaslav also said that he expected to have a replacement for CFO Brad Singer before he leaves the company. He said he expected there to be some overlap so that Singer could assist his successor with the transition.

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