| SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 11
SUN VALLEY, Idaho, July 11 Cable companies
should make a joint bid to buy Hulu, the online video site
currently conducting an auction, billionaire cable pioneer John
Malone said on Thursday.
Joint ownership of Hulu would give cable companies an
Internet TV service on a national scale, which would benefit all
the operators, said Malone, speaking on the sidelines of the
annual Allen & Co media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Time Warner Cable is among three remaining bidders
for Hulu, according to media reports. Malone said Time Warner
Cable, which has 12 million video customers, would not benefit
from owning Hulu on its own because it does not have national
reach in the United States.
"Time Warner on their own, if they were the sole owner of
Hulu and if that was the end of it, it wouldn't make a lot of
sense," he said in an interview. "But if the cable industry
were, for instance, to invest in Hulu together in the U.S. or
even globally, that would make sense because now you're starting
to talk about scale that allows you to do things that you can't
do if you're geographically limited."
Malone's Liberty Media owns a 28 percent stake in
Charter Communications, the No. 4 U.S. cable operator.
He did not say if he wanted Charter to enter the Hulu bidding,
but his views carry weight with other media executives.
Hulu is owned by Walt Disney Co, 21st Century Fox
and NBC parent Comcast,
Time Warner Cable has offered to make an equity investment
in Hulu. That would make Time Warner Cable and Comcast, the
cable industry's two largest operators, joint owners, along with
Disney and 21st Century Fox.
Comcast is restricted from making business decisions related
to Hulu as part of its settlement with the U.S. government when
it acquired NBC Universal.
Satellite operator and cable competitor DirecTV has
offered more than $1 billion for Hulu.
Former News Corp President Peter Chernin has joined forces
with AT&T to also bid for Hulu. AT&T's video operation
U-verse is another competitor with cable.