NETWORK NEWS: FOR SALE SIGN STILL IN FRONT OF CBS
The uncertainty surrounding CBS is the subject of profiles
in the WALL STREET JOURNAL and the L.A. TIMES this morning. In
L.A., Sallie Hofmeister and Jane Hall call Connie Chung's
demotion from the anchor desk "the latest sign of trouble" at the
network. In addition to problems in prime time, news, sports and
with affiliates, "the biggest question remains who will own the
network six months from now." Despite CBS Chair & CEO Laurence
Tisch's statements that CBS is not for sale, "investment bankers
representing possible bidders say otherwise" (L.A. TIMES, 5/22).
Tisch has been talking to potential buyers -- with Barry Diller
and Ted Turner topping most lists -- for over a year, and is said
to be holding out for $80 a share, or almost $6B (Elizabeth
Jensen, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/22).
PEACOCK FLYING HIGH: NBC has emerged from a low-point in
'93 to become "the best-positioned network in the business,"
according to this morning's N.Y. TIMES. A strong prime-time
lineup, satellite delivery to Europe and Asia, cable franchises
and emerging multimedia possibilities through deals such as the
one last week with Microsoft add up to a "shift in the NBC's
fortunes [which] has allowed the network to take a tougher stand
in its negotiations with potential buyers or those interested in
merging." NBC President Robert Wright said a merger with Turner
is "still the best thing for both companies," but that "it isn't
likely to happen." Wright: "It's getting real expensive to buy
NBC" (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 5/22). After GE CEO Jack Welch's
recent successful heart operation, BUSINESS WEEK raises the issue
of possible succession and notes that there is "no clear-cut No.
2 executive" at the company. Wright is one of eight GE execs
listed as possible replacements for the day Welch steps down (Tim
Smart, BUSINESS WEEK, 5/29).
MURDOCH: News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch is profiled in the
current BUSINESS WEEK as "the one media mogul loaded with
resources." Murdoch said the joint venture with MCI, which
brought News Corp. $2B, will be an "acquisition vehicle."
Murdoch: "We will (invest in) the media business. It won't be a
steel mill." Murdoch, on interactivity: "I think it will
happen. I'm just very cautious about when" (BUSINESS WEEK, 5/29
issue). Murdoch also said News Corp. plans to put all of its
more than 130 newspapers on-line within a couple of years, as a
way of building on the MCI venture (REUTERS, 5/20).