THE MOUSE IS OUT OF NBC HUNT, TURNER NEXT IN LINE?
Published September 27, 1994
With Disney out of running to buy NBC from GE, speculation is now focused on Ted Turner. In New York, Geraldine Fabrikant notes that although Turner "has not publicly acknowledged interest in acquiring NBC," the TV industry "has begun assuming that he would like to buy the network." But industry experts say Turner would encounter "regulatory and financial obstacles in trying to complete such an acquisition." One NBC exec said that GE and NBC considered Turner's "ambitions so unrealistic that they did not take him to be a serious bidder." Turner Broadcasting's fate is "entwined" with its two major shareholders, TCI and Time Warner. Time Warner could not buy NBC without "major cross-ownership issues arising." One person familiar with talks between Turner Broadcasting and its investors said that "contrary to published reports," Time Warner has not given Ted Turner the green light to explore a bid for NBC. Turner could not bid for NBC without Time Warner's support, and that would not likely happen until Time Warner itself gave up interest in NBC (N.Y. TIMES, 9/27). TCI'S HELP: In New York, John Durie notes that TCI Chair John Malone met with GE's Jack Welch to let him know that he supported Turner's bid for NBC. Durie adds, "Forget the reports that Disney backed out of the NBC deal because Welch changed his mind and now only wants to sell half the asset. The facts of the matter are that Disney wasn't putting up enough money" (N.Y. POST, 9/27). WHAT NOW? CBS and Cap Cities/ABC stocks rallied Monday on reports Disney had pulled out of the NC chase (USA TODAY, 9/27). According to analysts, Disney may now focus on CBS or ABC ("Nightly Business Report," PBS, 9/26).