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Media Stars in Links 2006 Conference

Networks are nice, but it's content that's driving the future.

Accordingly, content will take center stage at the Heavy Reading Links Executive Summit 2006, held Nov. 15 and 16 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Barbara, Calif.

In a departure from past years, Links 2006 will focus on what's going into the network. For example, one session entitled "Sports and New Media" brings AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and the National Football League together in one panel.

A concurrent session on "Business Models in a Web 2.0 World" examines how different rungs of the media ladder -- content providers and distributors -- will make money as the business of media changes; Sony Pictures Digital Inc. will be among the companies speaking.

"That was kind of the idea -- to go beyond the regular LR crowd," says Heavy Reading analyst Sterling Perring.

One goal of Links 2006 will be to show how old media companies are transforming to take advantage of digital entertainment and the Internet. Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), for example, is "doing a lot of reorganization, setting themselves up to be strong in digital content," Perring says. NBC, similarly, has created the post of "chief digital officer," staffed by former Major League Baseball Advance Media exec George Kliavkoff.

New media will be represented at the conference, too, as Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos will be on hand to deliver the foil perspective to the telcos' IPTV plans. "We wanted to get people that are outside the typical model. Netflix has an online element to it, but it's kind of the antithesis of IPTV," Perrin says.

Of course, the U.S. telcos themselves will have their say, too. Representing Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) will be Robert E. Ingalls Jr., executive vice president and chief marketing officer -- the man in charge of the FiOS rollout. From AT&T, there's Dan York, executive VP of programming for Project Lightspeed, whose charter includes planning the content to be delivered on AT&T's U-verse set of services.

For the cable TV perspective, Links will tap Michael Lee, chief strategy officer for Canadian cable firm Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RG; Toronto: RCI). "They've also got a wireless arm, so they're further ahead in this fixed/mobile convergence than any of the cable companies, and they're better off than the telcos because they have the content from the cable side," Perrin says.

The day of talk is prefaced by a day of walking the walk, at Light Reading's third annual executive golf tournament. The setting this time will be the championship course at the Sandpiper Golf Club, followed by a gala banquet that will include presentations of this year's Leading Lights awards.

Full information on Links 2006 can be found here.

— The Staff, Light Reading

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