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Time Warner has given its "blessing" to TBS President Ted Turner for an "expected" direct bid to buy NBC according to a report in USA TODAY. Time Warner has pulled out of the bidding for NBC but retains veto rights over a Turner deal. GE reportedly wants $6B for the network, NBC's seven O&O's and the cable channels CNBC and America's Talking. GE CEO Jack Welch wants to keep 51% control of NBC. Turner could cut the $400M operational costs by "blending" news and entertainment resources with NBC, but a potential Turner bid will face "complications" with federal laws prohibiting TBS' cable operators from owning over 5% of a net. Time Warner has proposed trading TBS shares for "control" of Turner properties but has yet to agree on a price (Lieberman & Dorfman, USA TODAY, 10/25). CAPITAL INCREASE: Cap Cities/ABC reports a 71% profit increase to $133.7M for the third quarter. Profits increased "in the wake of another impressive performance" from network and cable efforts and a "still-favorable" advertising climate. Broadcasting revenues climbed 13% and operating income "soared" 67% under cost control measures (Patrick Harverson, FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/25). Goldman, Sachs analyst Barry Kaplan predicts "pretty clear sailing for the foreseeable future" and believes Cap Cities is "benefitting from the improved general climate for the industry." Cap Cities/ABC shares closed yesterday at $77.625, up 50 cents (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/25). BRINGING GE'S DEALINGS TO LIGHT: A federal price-fixing trial begins today against GE. The Justice Department's antitrust suit contends GE "tried to increase profits in its industrial diamonds business by bidding up prices in concert" with Swiss competitor De Beers Centenary A.G (Richard Ringer, NEW YORK TIMES, 10/25).
In this week's AD AGE, a list of 100 top grossing magazines includes Sports Illustrated (4), Golf Digest (33), Golf Magazine (59) and Sporting News (86) (AD AGE, 10/24 issue)....WMAR-TV Channel 2 in Baltimore has decided to air the Baltimore CFL's last regular season game on November 5 in an effort "to make the station more attractive to football advertisers next fall" (Baltimore SUN, 10/25). ....In New York, Bob Raissman writes that ESPN and Fox both exercised a "double standard" over the report of Raiders coach Art Shell calling QB Jeff Hostetler a "white so- and-so." ESPN "soft-sold" Chris Mortenson's report and Fox "buried its head in the sand" by choosing to ignore it altogether (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/25)....SportsChannel New York has acquired the rights to televise the Japanese World Series. The games will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis starting October 30. Announcers Ken Harrelson and Tom Paciorek will provide voice- overs (SportsChannel NY).