As the sun rises Monday morning over Little Cottonwood Canyon, the question will be whether the sun is setting on old ideas about traditional and new media.
conference in Snowbird, Utah, kicks off with a lineup of companies smack in the middle of figuring out how old media and new best work with one another, and perhaps more importantly, how investors should value one against the other. It runs through Thursday, March 9.
Attendees are hoping the first-day presentations will give them more ammunition with which to analyze the old media-new media deal of all deals -- the intended merger, announced in January, of
"We were talking about convergence last year," says Paul Noglows, senior analyst of Chase H&Q's Internet media group. "I think we're definitely going to be talking about convergence this year."
Beyond AOL-Time Warner, though, attendees want a better idea of what the future holds for other offline operations building online bridges, primarily
and the independent-but-ever-courted
. Plus they'll get a peek at
Cox Interactive Media
, an online division of privately held media conglomerate
, the dominant shareholder of cable operator
Getting some of those ideas across is Noglows' goal for a Monday morning panel discussion on the collision of new and traditional media. Among the questions he wants to address are what is the value of a major media partnership, what are the hurdles, and how should traditional media move into the business of digital downloads of their audio/video properties.
The answers to these simple questions are of great consequence for the market. Since the announcement of the AOL-Time Warner deal, AOL's stock has drifted downward and Time Warner's has seesawed, both bothered by a lack of consensus over the implications of their union.
Those implications are relevant for Yahoo!, which has seen its stock decline more than 36% from its all-time high, as investors try to figure out what leverage it has in the post-AOL-Time Warner world and what type of benefit it would derive from alliances with online operations such as
And the questions are certainly relevant for
, which will be presenting on Tuesday morning. A year ago, it was Lycos' since-abandoned deal to merge with companies affiliated with
that kicked off the debate over the relative value and appropriate role of old media and new media.
Much of that debate was conducted at last year's planet.wall.street gathering, which both Lycos CEO Bob Davis and CMGI CEO David Wetherell attended. (That was a round won by Lycos shareholder CMGI, which objected to the financial terms of the deal.)
Other likely subjects will be the expansion of national online media in two directions, international and local. Overseas plays will likely have a major role in the growth of companies including AOL, Yahoo!, Lycos and CMGI -- not to mention Spanish- and Portuguese-language portal
, another company presenting Monday.
On the local side, the Cox Interactive presentation is likely to cover the company's network of locally focused Web sites that compete with better known local online networks run by AOL's
. Locally targeted advertising on the Web is a small part of the Internet ad market, but its supporters have high hopes.
Cox, which operates Web sites in 30 markets where it also runs newspapers or TV stations, could show investors how it works.