OTHER NEWS ON THE NETWORK FEEDING FRENZY
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).