MAJOR MEDIA DEALS: BIG NAMES ESTABLISH ASIAN PRESENCE
ESPN has said that "it plans to tackle more Asian markets
with customized programming in native languages," according to
today's DAILY VARIETY. Yesterday, the cable network launched a
programming and production center in Singapore that will produce
three separate language and program feeds for India, greater
China and southeast Asia. According to a release, the new
service will carry U.S.-based programming as well as
international events "relevant to each region." ESPN currently
provides Cantonese, Mandarin and English commentary, with Hindi
and Bahasa Indonesia to be added later (REUTERS/VARIETY, 6/14).
BETTER RED THAN IN THE RED? Rupert Murdoch's News
Corp. yesterday announced the formation of a joint venture
with Beijing's People's Daily newspaper, long known as the
"throat and tongue" of the Chinese Communist Party. Among
the potential projects of the new partnership, called
Beijing PDN Xinren Information Technology Co., are
electronic publishing and online information (N.Y. POST,
6/14). The deal "represents an important breakthrough for
News Corp.," in Asia and could lead to joint ventures in
newspapers and TV (Tony Walker, FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/14).
TOP LABATT BIDDERS: Jerry Rosenfeld, Managing Partner
at Lazard Freres & Co., financial adviser to Intrebew SA,
which has bid C$2.7B for Labatt, profiled the likely bidders
for Labatt's broadcast holdings. A group including
management of sports channel TSN, as well as ESPN, "doesn't
have its financing 'absolutely certain yet,'" according to
Rosenfeld. Baton Broadcasting "has yet to raise the money."
And CanWest Global Communications "probably has the money
but hasn't yet gotten to a price level that is acceptable to
us" (Marina Strauss, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/14).
MULTIMEDIA AUCTION: Bidders for diversified media
concern, Multimedia Inc., have been given a June 21 deadline
to submit offers. Top bidders include a consortium that
includes NBC, TCI's Intermedia and Media General, and a
group led by Ellis Communications, parent company of Raycom.
Multimedia's holdings include TV stations, daily newspapers,
syndicated talks shows such as "Donahue" and "Sally Jessy
Raphael," and cable systems (Bill Carter, N.Y. TIMES, 6/14).
DREAM DEAL: The Spielberg-Geffen-Katzenberg DreamWorks
studio granted exclusive distribution rights to Seagram's
newly-acquired MCA. In addition to international
distribution of films, videos and music, MCA theme parks
will have exclusive rights to "characters and concepts" from
DreamWorks productions (John Durie, N.Y. POST, 6/14).