Comcast ( CMCSA), spurned once in its takeover bid for Disney ( DIS), will return with a higher offer, Disney President Bob Iger predicted Tuesday.

"I think Comcast comes back," Iger said. "I don't know how or when."

Iger said Disney's board would "clearly" hold management accountable for meeting its future financial targets, following shareholders' stunning no-confidence vote last week for CEO Michael Eisner and other board members (including Iger).

But if there is any timetable for delivering results, Iger said he didn't know what it was. "It certainly hasn't been communicated," he said. "It hasn't been stated."

Iger's comments come a day after Roberts said it wasn't viable or realistic for investors to assume that Comcast would bid against itself. Both men made their remarks at a Bear Stearns investment conference in Palm Beach, Fla.

But Iger termed a higher bid inevitable, suggesting that a distribution company such as Comcast needs high-quality content -- such as that from Disney -- to succeed.

On a related subject, Iger said it was dangerous for EchoStar Communications ( DISH) to drop its carriage of CBS and other Viacom ( VIAB) programming in its current dispute with Viacom. Just as a grocery store can't compete without stocking Heinz ketchup and Kellogg's cereal, he said, "A distribution platform cannot afford to be without best brands."

Along with his discussion of Disney's strengths as a content company, Iger acknowledged various shortcomings in the company's performance over the past few years.

ABC TV's primetime schedule has been "a real mess" since the ratings of the original Who Wants to Be a Millionaire collapsed in 2000. The company was "overly reliant" on two-dimensional animation, he said, ceding the lead in 3-D animation to Pixar ( PIXR). That studio's CEO, Steve Jobs, memorably said earlier this year that the company wouldn't be extending its distribution relationship with Disney.

Meanwhile, after paying "full value" for what is now the ABC Family Channel, the company missed its targets in both advertising sales and ratings, Iger conceded.

Addressing the impact of last week's shareholder vote -- in which 43% of shareholders withheld their votes for Eisner's re-election to the board -- Iger said the pressure was on management to meet its financial goals. Those include 30% earnings growth in 2004 and double-digit earnings growth for the next few years thereafter. "We know it's about performance at this point," Iger said.

Asked why the board selected lead independent director George Mitchell to replace Eisner as chairman -- when Mitchell received a hefty 24% "withhold" vote himself -- Iger said that the board, once it decided to split the chairman and CEO posts, thought Mitchell was the best person for the chairman job.

Iger said that Disney's board is more independent than has been portrayed by its critics, and that the interests of shareholders come ahead of any personal relationships of board members. Mitchell has "integrity" and an "unbelievable" reputation, Iger said. "There's something reprehensible," Iger said, about questioning Mitchell's integrity.

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