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Sun Valley: The Real Agenda

Starting Tuesday, a parade of images and rumors will emerge from Sun Valley, Idaho where Allen & Company is hosting its annual media and tech conference. As a veteran of the media side of this confab, I can honestly say: you don’t have to pay attention to most of the noise.

The shots of vest-clad moguls trudging to and from the Sun Valley Inn—a path that resembles a gauntlet or red carpet, depending on your perspective—don’t mean much. Neither does commentary about who is chatting at the bar. Last year a late-night drink between Tim Armstrong and Marissa Mayer sparked rumors of an “Aolhoo” merger and undoubtedly sent some blogs’ traffic flying. Meanwhile, it went completely unnoticed that Mr. Armstrong had lunch with Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, setting into motion the $4.4 billion deal consummated last month.

With so many attendees from so many geographies, it’s an important place for catching up and maintaining relationships. Executives and their teams prep relentlessly for marathon meetings, the important ones all out of the limelight. With that in mind, here’s our list of meetings that should happen and what we expect would be on the agenda.

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James Murdoch, John Malone and David Zaslav—Speaking of global, the intensifying race over sports rights is certain to be a much discussed topic, and these three are at the center. Just last week, Discovery Communications, controlled by Mr. Malone and run by Mr. Zaslav, nabbed European rights to the Olympics through Discovery’s stake in Eurosport. That deal couldn’t have sat well with BSkyB, the pay TV distributor in which 21st Century Fox owns a stake. For one thing, it gives Discovery more leverage in getting distribution for its channels; and Sky is often in the market for sports rights, too. With newly appointed 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch likely looking for deals and partnerships, these three clearly have a lot to talk about.

Semil Shah commented on this article.
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