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OTHER NEWS ON THE NETWORK FEEDING FRENZY
Published September 28, 1994
In an interview on the "Nightly Business Report," GE Chair Jack Welch said he is talking to "every single player" interested in NBC, but in the end he may end up keeping the network. Asked if he is satisfied with NBC's performance, Welch said its "cumulative cash flow" has been "somewhere in the neighborhood of $3B." Welch then clarified that he is looking for a "changing relationship" for NBC. Welch: "It has to be an option to sell. Do I regard it to be a highly probable option? No. We're more likely to get bigger and broader in this industry" (PBS, 9/27). WHAT ABOUT THE FIFTH NET? In New York, Johnnie Roberts reports that Time Warner's bid for NBC "is sparking vigorous internal opposition from some of Time Warner's top executives." The NBC talks have been headed by Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin and outside adviser, Oded Aboodi. But some close to the company say Warner Bros. Co-CEO Robert Daly and Michael Fuchs, chair of Time Warner's HBO unit, "believe that buying a piece of NBC is foolhardy and potentially harmful to Time Warner's other interest," including efforts to launch a 5th network in conjunction with Tribune Co. Tribune execs "also are said to be puzzled by the NBC talks and are concerned about Time Warner's commitment to their venture" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/28). RATINGS WATCH: The first week of the new TV season produced "encouraging results" for three nets, "but dismal news for CBS." CBS was "soundly beaten" by ABC and NBC and even lost to Fox among the younger viewers "who are most valued by advertisers." It was the first time any network had been beaten by Fox in the "premiere week among viewers" aged 18-49. The disappointing ratings "only added to the pressure on the network's executives, who are already unsettled about persistent rumors that CBS might be sold" (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 9/28). CABLE WATCH: TCI could wrap up the $2.4B purchase of Viacom's cable-TV systems as early as next week. Talks are set to resume after tomorrow's vote by Viacom shareholders on a merger with Blockbuster Entertainment. TCI is not "technically the buyer, however. A partnership connected with TCI, Intermedia Partners, will buy the systems both to help TCI avoid going over the FCC's cable ownership limits and reportedly for tax reasons" (N.Y. POST, 9/28).