Turner Broadcasting faces a barrage of PR activity if the Time Warner
merger goes ahead
Turner Broadcasting System
US multi-media conglomerate Turner Broadcasting System could soon become
even bigger should the merger with media giant Time Warner go ahead as
With its European headquarters in London, TBS has over 300 staff in the
UK. Its communications are overseen by Geraldine Sharpe-Newton, senior
vice-president international PR. ‘We strive to build relationships with
distributors who sell programmes to cable networks and with journalists
to ensure a high profile for the company’s products, says Sharpe-Newton.
PR activities range from promoting specific programmes, to developing
cable capacity in specific countries, which can include public affairs
work aimed at national governments or Brussels.
Although TBS no longer uses Cohn and Wolfe for its merchandising
activity, it still employs the MCM agency for ‘project specific
programming’ and Edelman in Germany. Sharpe-Newton says: ‘The appetite
for our activities continues to grow. If the proposed merger goes ahead
there will be a whole new basket of activities.’
Yorkshire Electricity plc encompasses a group of companies covering
power generation and supply to residential and commercial customers. As
a privatised utility serving the same patch as the media-ravaged
Yorkshire Water it is, not surprisingly, well geared to handle media
Group media relations manager Dominic Cheetham meets the company’s
senior executives each week, there is a monthly team brief for the heads
of the businesses and ‘special team briefs’ are disseminated
electronically in response to any breaking news story.
Yorkshire Electricity has retained Ludgate for financial PR for the past
two years and Market Access for government affairs. Cheetham will not
disclose the PR budget but says the biggest cost is the production of
internal materials. Cheetham says the biggest single media issue remains
mergers and acquisitions. ‘For 18 months we have been tipped as the
prime take-over candidate and we still are according to national
analysts,’ he says.
The press department handles around 120 media enquiries each month. This
ranges from the reactive - regulatory announcements and take-over bids -
to the pro-active - initiatives on community relations and price cuts.
Cheetham said: ‘We’re broadening our media targeting in the run up to
the open electricity market of 1998. As the regional company with the
lowest average domestic bill, we’re getting that across to other areas
of the country and upsetting a lot of other RECs in the process.’