Time Warner, CNN Brand May Gain From Anderson Cooper's Gay Announcement

 
on July 02 2012 4:37 PM

Time Warner Inc.'s (NYSE: TWX) share price and advertising spending on its CNN channel aren't likely to be impacted by anchor Anderson Cooper's announcement that he's gay. The news may have a long-term positive impact on his brand and cable news show, Anderson Cooper 360.

Cooper, 45, came out Monday in an email published on Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Daily Beast. Cooper said that while he'd sought to maintain privacy for professional reasons, he wanted to correct the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something.

My gut reaction would be minimal impact, of the announcement on Time Warner stock or advertising during Cooper's primetime CNN slot, Morningstar Equity Analyst Michael Corty said. It's one channel in part of a big cable company. I would doubt it would have much financial impact.

Shares of TimeWarner rose a quarter to $38.75, just slightly below their 52-week high of $39.25.

Likewise, advertisers are unlikely to pull ads from Cooper's programs, at least not in a publicly visible way. You wouldn't hear about it --  they'd get a lot of negative pushback, Corty said. The most that might happen is advertisers could shift ads to other time slots in CNN's programming, but this is even unlikely given Cooper's long track record at the channel.

I think he's a brand name on the show, but he's obviously a journalist, it's not about his life, Corty said. In fact, some said the announcement may positively affect Cooper's brand, and thus by extension, CNN.

Nearly 86 percent of Time Warner shares is owned by large financial institutions and mutual funds. By the close of Monday trading, none had announced they'd sell their shares because of Cooper's announcement. At times, church and other groups have announced they would sell shares based on disagreement with corporate practices or policies. Time Warner, with its magazines and Hollywood studios, is a highly visible media company.

One analysis by BuzzFeed raised the possibility that far from being the career-killer it might have been a few decades ago, publicly declaring his sexuality could actually be good for business. Cooper will now join the growing list of popular and openly gay news anchors like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and CNN's Don Lemon. Cooper is known as a journalist who often delivers his personal take on often dangerous and harrowing situations in war zones, and his announcement may allow him to apply the same manner of journalism to gay rights issues.

Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray gay and lesbian people in the media -- and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them, Cooper wrote.

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