Blair Westlake

June 11, 2009 · Posted in Speaker Bios 

westlake-blairBlair Westlake, Corporate Vice President, Media & Entertainment Group, Microsoft

As corporate vice president of the Media & Entertainment Group at Microsoft Corporation, Blair Westlake serves as the liaison within Microsoft for the media and entertainment industries, including Hollywood, broadcasters, cable/satellite programmers and the music industry. He directs a cross-organizational group responsible for business development, policies and content licensing for services and products including Xbox Live Marketplace Video store, Windows Media Center Edition PCs and Zune. He joined Microsoft in August 2004 and is based at the Company’s Redmond, WA headquarters.

Westlake is a seasoned media and entertainment industry veteran, with more than 25 years of diverse experience encompassing home video, pay and free television distribution, video-on-demand and pay-per-view, non-theatrical content distribution (airlines, hotels, etc.), television production, physical studio operations, international thematic channels development and management, strategic planning for a global television business unit, magazine publishing and theme parks.

Before joining Microsoft, Westlake consulted for various media companies including Comcast Corp. and NBC Universal and was corporate executive vice president of Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. Westlake was also an executive of Universal Studios, Inc. (formerly known as MCA INC.) for nearly 20 years, where he was Chairman of Universal Television & Networks Group. He joined Universal as an attorney in the Law Department (1982 – 85), and subsequently held positions as Director of Business Affairs for Studio Operations (1985-87), Vice President and Senior Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Home Entertainment Group (1987-93), Executive Vice President, Home Entertainment Group (1993-96), and President, Worldwide Pay Television and Television Business Development (1996-97). Following graduation from law school, he was an attorney with Great Western Financial Corporation, later acquired by Washington Mutual Bank.

Under Westlake’s leadership, Universal Studios broke new ground in creating strategic alliances to build the Universal brand in the global television arena, including long-term, multibillion dollar channel carriage and content licensing agreements with Germany’s KirchGruppe, France’s Canal+, Stream in Italy and Sogecable in Spain. He was instrumental in the formation of various multi-party joint ventures, leading to the creation of a dozen international channels including HBO Asia, Telecine premium movie channel in Brazil, Cinecanal premium movie channel in Latin America, the Premium Movie Partnership (Showtime and Encore movie channels) in Australia, TV1 Channel in Australia, RTL7 channel partnership (with CLT/UFA and Bertelsmann) in Poland, and Star Channel in Japan.

Westlake oversaw the global of the licensing of Universal’s motion pictures (output and library comprising 5,000+ titles) and television libraries (40,000+ episodes), through all forms and means of television. In 1993, Westlake negotiated a groundbreaking agreement with Tele-Communications Inc. and Encore Media for Universal Studio’s motion pictures, which led to the formation of what later became known as Starz, a premium movie channel which competes with HBO and Showtime. In 2000, he was responsible for crafting and negotiating the first-ever “split-slate” output deal with HBO and Starz.

A recognized leader in the media and entertainment industries, Westlake was the first recipient of the Whittier College School of Law Alumni Award for Business Excellence in 2002, and in December 2007 received the Special Founders Award from the Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel (AMEC), the leading trade association serving general counsel and business affairs attorneys at media and entertainment companies.

He is a member of a number of industry organizations including The Paley Center for Media (The Museum of Television & Radio) Media Council, the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (Academy Awards®), Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmy Awards®), the Executive Committee of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (iEmmy® Awards) and The Pacific Council on International Policy. Westlake is a member of Board of Directors of the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG); ContentGuard, Inc.; and Digital Coast Roundtable; he is a former member of the Consumer Electronics Association Board of Directors and the Board Industry Leaders and board of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE).

Westlake is admitted and an active member of the California State Bar.

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