April 17, 2024

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The Media Exec behind the Time Warner-AOL merger was 84

The Media Exec behind the Time Warner-AOL merger was 84

Gerald M. Levin, the former Time Warner CEO who orchestrated its disastrous merger with AOL, died Wednesday. He was 84 years old.

Levine's grandson, Jake Maya Arlo, confirmed his death to The New York TimesSaying that Levine died in hospital and lives in Long Beach, California. While the cause of death was not revealed, Levine was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Levin was appointed co-CEO of Time Warner alongside Stephen J. Ross in 1992; He became sole CEO when Ross died months later from prostate cancer.

Levin and then-AOL CEO Steve Case announced a $350 billion deal to merge the two companies on January 10, 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble. After the merger, creating AOL Time Warner, factors such as the dot-com bust greatly impacted the company, leading to a historic $100 billion writedown. Levin resigned in 2002.

Before the AOL Time Warner debacle, Levin was a lawyer who became a programming executive in 1972 at a pay-TV channel called Home Box Office. He was promoted to CEO a year later, and in 1975, he convinced its parent company, Time Inc., to transmit the HBO signal nationwide via satellite.

“Calling for HBO to appear on satellite was one of the most important decisions of my entire career,” Levin said in James Andrew Miller's 2021 book.Tinderbox: HBO's ruthless quest for new frontiers“(to The New York Times). “The only way to get ahead is to see something that no one else is seeing, which is a little crazy. Satellite at the time was kind of a dream thing, but the idea of ​​turning HBO into a national network instead of relying on a lot of small cable networks was Very big idea.

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Levin was elected to Time's board of directors in 1988, and played a critical role in the company's merger with Warner Communications. As CEO of Time Warner, he led the acquisition of Turner Broadcasting System, bringing CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network and other cable assets into the company.

Levine was born on May 6, 1939, in Philadelphia to parents David and Pauline (Schantzer) Levine. He received his bachelor's degree from Haverford College in 1960, and his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1963.

Levin has been married three times: to Carol Needleman, Barbara Riley, and Lori Perlman. All three marriages ended in divorce.

Levin has four children. He was preceded in death by his son, Jonathan.