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June 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

James Murdoch

On the surface, the media business would appear to look terrifically robust right now — but top media executives attending the Cannes Lions advertising conference suggested today (Friday) that in reality they are anxious about what the future holds in store for it. Indeed, speaking at a panel at the conference, News Corp COO James Murdoch said that media companies like his are growing “very fearful” about the state of the macroeconomic environment even while his own company is reporting strong profits. “We feel very healthy about the business and very nervous about the macro environment,” he remarked. Later, when another member of the panel, DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg, expressed disappointment with the quality of the commercials at this year’s Super Bowl and asked, “Why is that?” Murdoch responded that the precarious state of the economy has led both Hollywood and Madison Avenue (advertisers) to take fewer risks, thereby reining in creativity. Interviewed by the Financial Times, the panel’s moderator Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency group, agreed that his company’s clients seem “very nervous and very depressed. … That’s worrying in and of itself.” But Sorrell also agreed that things look good for this year. “On a macro level [the advertising business] is quite fragile,” he told the newspaper. “On a micro level it doesn’t look so bad.”