Parsons: CNN-ABC News Talks on Hold


New York -- AOL Time Warner Inc. CEO Richard Parsons said talks between his Cable News Network unit and ABC News concerning a possible merger of their news operations have been put on hold.

While Parsons, speaking at the UBS Warburg LLC Media Conference here Tuesday, said a combination makes sense, he added that there are pitfalls, as well.

"We've hit the pause button on that because it's very, very complicated," Parsons said. "It's not only complicated as an operational matter, because both brand owners want to control their own air, so if you're getting everything from the same factory, how do you control the look and feel of news and the editorial judgments that are being made? It's complicated from the point of view that once you go down that road, can you ever come back?"

While Parsons said the combination makes business sense, he added, "It also has a lot of operational and structuring hair, and nobody has figured it out yet."

Parsons also reiterated that the company is looking at divesting nonstrategic assets, alluding that AOL Time Warner's partial interests in cable networks Comedy Central and Courtroom Television Network could be among them.

"There are assets we have that don't contribute [cash flow] because they are owned jointly," Parsons said. "In part because they are owned jointly with others, they have less strategic import, so we're looking at those kind of assets."