AOL Time Warner boss Dick Parsons said he wants to expand the company's international presence, with the UK and Europe seen as priorities for growth ahead of the rest of the world.

However, he stressed that expansion in the UK and Europe would be cautious, largely because AOL Time Warner was going through a "period of digestion" following its rapid expansion in the 1990s. The US group has recently experienced a series of management upheavals, a fall in share price and controversy over alleged accounting irregularities.

Parsons also said that the price of UK media companies would have to come down before AOL started acquiring: "At the current level at which assets trade, there is not going to be a stampede to buy."

Parsons was speaking in London at the Royal Television Society's international conference. "This is a very attractive market," he said, referring to the UK. "Any of us would like to be here in larger scale and be more deeply embedded."

With the UK government currently planning to liberalise media ownership legislation and open the industry up to foreign investment, AOL Time Warner has long been seen a candidate to buy into British television.

But Parsons was deliberately vague on whether AOL Time Warner had specific plans to enter the market. "Do we need a UK broadcast network right now' No. Could we use a broadcast network - the answer is yes."

He did say, however, that AOL Time Warner is interested in investing in UK content creating companies, explaining that UK programming has a reputation for quality and travelling well internationally.

"Two of the best things happening to our company are led by British personages - Harry Potter and Austin Powers," he joked.

Earlier in the conference, UK Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt spoke about the government's plan to liberalise media ownership laws and to encourage foreign investment. "We want the UK to be the most dynamic, most competitive, most exciting broadcast market in the world," she said. "We think that if we can enable wider foreign ownership, we will get a wider investment pool and wider competition."