SBD/26/Sports Media

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  • ALL'S NOT QUIET ON THE NETWORK FRONT (EXCEPT THE MICE?)

         Conflicting reports over the weekend give a muddied picture
    on the status of talks between GE and Disney over NBC.  The L.A.
    TIMES reports that talks had ended while the N.Y. TIMES reports
    only that talks "have cooled."  The stumbling block in either
    case seems to be Disney's desire to buy all of NBC -- the
    network, seven O&O's and cable interests, including CNBC.  GE has
    apparently decided "that it would prefer to continue owning a
    majority of NBC," making only 49% available.  Geraldine Fabrikant
    speculates that after weeks of negotiations, the parties may be
    taking "tough stances and then letting the news media know simply
    as a bargaining tactic" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).  But in Burbank,
    Richard Turner writes Disney was "institutionally and
    strategically unwilling to accept a minority partnership" (WALL
    STREET JOURNAL, 9/26).  Among other NBC suitors, the N.Y. TIMES
    reports that ITT has "lost its ardor" for the network.  And at
    Time Warner, several execs close to the company indicate that the
    NBC deal "does not appeal to all of the company's top management"
    (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).  But the WALL STREET JOUNRAL notes that talks
    between Time Warner and GE are proceeding (WALL STREET JOURNAL,
    9/26).
         OTHER PLAYERS:  On Friday, TCI Chair John Malone was in New
    York to meet with GE's Jack Welch.  One source believes Malone
    could have been trying to broker a deal that would bring Turner
    into the fold (N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).  Others that could get into the
    network game include Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric
    Industrial (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/26).
         REVIEWING THE SALES:  On "Wall Street Week," Smith Barney
    media analyst John Reidy discussed the renewed interest in the
    networks.  With regard to the rumored negotiations to sell CBS,
    Reidy reiterated that CBS President Lawrence Tisch says that "he
    isn't interested" in selling CBS, although "there are some signs
    that he might be willing to take some partners."  Reidy concluded
    that CBS "may well remain independent for some time" and
    suggested [Barry] Diller could return to CBS" (PBS, 9/25).
         CBS BIDS FOR WOMEN ON SUNDAYS:  Starting yesterday, CBS
    began filling Sunday afternoons with adaptions of one of the most
    "durable forms of female-oriented entertainment, Harlequin
    romance novels."  For the duration of the football season, CBS
    will show four romance movies, five movies produced "under the
    auspices of Hallmark Cards Inc.," and then round out the season
    with figure skating. CBS execs acknowledge the direct appeal for
    female viewers (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 9/26).
    

    Print | Tags: CBS, NBC, Media, Time Warner, Viacom, Walt Disney
  • MEDIA NOTES

         After beating Lennox Lewis for the WBC Heavyweight
    championship, Oliver McCall told HBO's Larry Merchant and HBO
    viewers they will be able to see him fight again on Showtime.
    "Naturally, promoter Don King, who does all of his fights with
    Showtime, was grinning broadly at McCall's side" (Prentis Rogers,
    ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/26).  Promoter Ernie Terrell said it was
    unlikely that Chicago-native McCall would fight his next title
    defense in Chicago.  The reason:  fight promoters do not like to
    black out the Chicago area because of its TV market size (Terry
    Armour, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/26).....In Baltimore, Milton Kent
    writes that ESPN's presence at the O.J. Simpson trial "distorts
    and trivializes the criminal justice system" (Baltimore SUN,
    9/26)....CNN is launching a CD-ROM package on the O.J. Simpson
    hearings at a cost of about $19.  It is designed to "live through
    the ages; it's a quickie project intended to capitalize on a
    breaking news story that doesn't justify" the $40-50 for most CD-
    ROMs (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 9/26).
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, HBO, Showtime, Media, Time Warner, Walt Disney
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