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BROADCAST NEWS: RUPERT SPEAKS; TURNER HAS EYE FOR THE EYE
Published February 28, 1995
News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch "made an aggressive and personal response" to the regulatory challenge posed to his Fox Television network, saying that Fox had fully informed the FCC of all details of its ownership structure in '85. The NAACP has challenged Fox, saying that Fox did not "make clear" to the FCC that the amount of foreign ownership in the network would "greatly exceed" the 25% limit. Speaking at a news conference in New York, Murdoch responded directly to comments by federal regulator Roy Stewart that he was not aware in '85 that News Corp. was supplying 99% of the equity for Fox. Murdoch: "He did not say we misled him or the FCC. Nor did he say we were not candid. He said he simply didn't know." Murdoch "attempted to counter any damage" that Stewart's comments might have done by citing declarations from three former FCC staffers that Fox's applications had made clear that News Corp. was supplying the equity. Murdoch accused the NAACP and NBC, which had also challenged Fox's foreign ownership until dropping its case, of "abusing the regulatory process" (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 2/28). As part of the formal response, 48 Fox affils submitted letters of support, and African-American producers of two Fox shows submitted letters "applauding the opportunities" Fox gives minority producers (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/28). The FCC is also studying whether NBC's decision to drop its complaint against Fox was a result of an improper "greenmail" arrangement (Paul Farhi, WASHINGTON POST, 2/28). TURNER IN THE EYE: TBS Inc., in the wake of failed merger talks with NBC, has resumed talks with CBS Inc., according to this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. The talks are "preliminary" according to those close to the talks, but CBS is reportedly asking about $5.3B. TBS is said to be weighing a stock-and-cash offer. Wall Street analysts believe CBS Chair Laurence Tisch is under "increased pressure" to make a deal because the network's ratings slide will soon "translate into lower revenue and profits." Others reportedly interested in CBS include former QVC Chair Barry Diller and Walt Disney Co., "long-rumored" to be a suitor (Lippman & Sharpe, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/28).