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Walt Disney Co.'s new head of television, Dennis Hightower, says the company will continue to look at acquiring a TV network: "We're obviously still evolving our strategic objectives in that regard. I'll say it is still on the slate" (REUTERS/COWLES BUSINESS MEDIA, 3/15). Despite Hightower's statement, Disney CEO Michael Eisner refused to comment on the rumors that Disney and former QVC Chair Barry Diller were teaming up to buy CBS. Eisner was in New York unveiling the Disney Institute -- a planned educational resort in FL (Jonathan Auerbach, N.Y. POST, 3/16). CNBC's "Business Insiders" noted takeover talk has led to a "run- up" in CBS' stock this week. On the show, there was a panel discussion concerning the takeover rumors. Among the panelists: HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Stephen Battaglio, USA TODAY's David Lieberman, media analyst Porter Bibb, and economics columnist Kathleen Hays. Bibb on the rumors that CBS Chair Laurence Tisch might be more "disposed" to sell to Disney rather than Ted Turner: "Larry Tish is more disposed to sell to the highest bidder, and Disney can buy CBS anytime they want. CBS is now at 68 1/4, it topped $70 a share, getting close to the $80 asking price that Larry Tisch wants for CBS. I don't see Disney paying that price. Ted Turner on the other hand, really has to buy a network, whether it's CBS or NBC." If he doesn't get a network, Bibb said Turner would stay "forever relegated to the second tier in the media business" (CNBC, 3/15).
As expected, the Senate Finance Committee voted to remove up to $640M in tax breaks, including those for minority-held communications companies. That vote thwarts Viacom's proposed $2.3B sale of its cable systems to a minority group backed by TCI. Viacom said it is still committed to selling the systems (Mult., 3/16)....ESPN and East Carolina University have reached a multi-year agreement calling for ESPN or ESPN2 to televise one home football game per year and eight games over the length of the agreement. In addition to football, ESPN2 will also televise a select number of women's events (ESPN)....Among the segments on this week's "NBA Inside Stuff" is an interview with Colgate standout Adonal Foyle (Inside Stuff)....ABC Sports will televise a 3-day competition featuring matches between Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Guillermo Vilas. The event is entitled "The Challenge" presented by Quality Inns (The Challenge)....The Cadillac NFL Golf Classic, a Sr. PGA Golf event featuring 56 NFL players now has a homepage on the World Wide Web. Address: http://nweb.netaxis.com/golf/. The page includes tournament facts, ticket information and a course map among other things (Cadillac)...."NBA Saturday Night" debuts April 15 on Comedy Central. The two hour block of "Saturday Night Live" episodes will be hosted by an assortment of NBA players and comedian Flex. Flex will interview various NBA stars as they introduce the episodes. NBA Entertainment will co-produce (NBA Entertainment).
Red Sox Broadcast Dir Jim Healey said the team is willing to "compensate" WSBK-TV for financial difficulty related to airing games with replacement games. Healey said the Sox know that WSBK "has been badly hurt" by the strike, but that the station has not refused to air its four remaining exhibition telecasts. However, the station has not yet confirmed that it will air them. WSBK is in the final year of a 5-year deal with the team and is due to pay the Sox $17M for '95 (Jim Baker, BOSTON HERALD, 3/15).