THE MOUSE IS OUT OF NBC HUNT, TURNER NEXT IN LINE?
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.
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).