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Sky Isn't Falling, Media Moguls Maintain

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In contrast, Time Warner president and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes told The Hollywood Reporter that a weak economy and the current market turmoil could create buying opportunities.

In his conference appearance, Bewkes reiterated that TW would look for acquisitions in core areas, such as film and TV production businesses, U.S. and international TV networks and maybe magazine brands.

He didn't mention specific companies, but drew laughs when he quipped: "I rule out the acquisition of subprime mortgage debt."

Several media heavyweights discussed the state of the ad market, with Murdoch predicting News Corp.'s TV stations and newspapers would gain market share from weaker competitors.

"Hard times are good for big companies," he argued.

Murdoch cited the The Wall Sreet Journal and his online assets as looking like they could surprise investors with their performance in a sluggish economy.

He acknowledged, though, "the local television market in this country is bad," specifically noting sharp declines in auto ads.

Also addressing advertising, Moonves said "financials are down, but not as much as auto."

He said Bank of America is a bigger ad buyer than Lehman Bros., parts of which are being sold to Barclays, and Merrill Lynch, which is being acquired by BofA.

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