Line of Telemundo suitors lengthens
Eager to capitalize on the growing Hispanic market, AOL Time Warner is considering a play for Spanish-language network Telemundo. AOL Time Warner officials would not comment, but one of its cable executives told BROADCASTING & CABLE, "It makes a lot of sense." Viacom Inc. and NBC aren't backing off: Execs from both reportedly toured Telemundo's Miami headquarters last week. Majority owners Liberty Media and Sony Corp. and an investor consortium are seeking up to $3 billion for the network they purchased in 1998 for $539 million.
At press time Friday, the fate of financially troubled Excite@ Home was still uncertain. Last Thursday, the board considered a bail-out plan that would require it to file for "prepackaged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company has $1.5 billion in debt and cannot sustain it. A source said that, despite layoffs and other cuts, Excite@ Home is burning cash at a rate of $1 million a day.
The bail-out calls for an investment fund controlled by ex-Clinton White House staffer Mike McLarty to inject $100 million, but only after a Chapter 11 filing. The high-speed Internet service would continue, but it's not clear whether the Excite portal would.
AT&T is considering a counter-proposal that would give it more control, having spent $5.5 billion for its 28% stake, now practically worthless. AT&T has promised its 1 million customers and Excite@ Home affiliates that the @Home Internet service will continue to function.
FCC Mass Media Bureau Chief Roy Stewart has a decision to make. Although he has survived through the tenures of four previous FCC heads, Chairman Michael Powell has made it clear Stewart will be subordinate to new cable bureau Chief Ken Ferree. Powell plans to combine the Mass Media, Cable Services and satellite-TV duties of the International Bureaus into one TV super bureau under Ferree—a plan first reported in the May 14 issue of BROADCASTING & CABLE . The 62-year-old Stewart would be offered a senior post in the bureau, perhaps deputy chief. But it's uncertain he will accept a diminished role. The FCC may reveal more about Powell's planned reorganization of the agency at its Sept. 13 meeting.
Start the bidding
Columbia TriStar Television Distribution is looking to turn online auction eBay into a fall 2002 syndicated strip. The currently untitled series, right now targeted for early-fringe and afternoon time periods, would tell the stories of people hunting treasures on eBay, which sells everything from antique cars to designer bags. The show will be produced by LMNO Productions, eBay and Columbia TriStar.
The Top 25 Media Groups listing in the issue of Aug. 27 underreported the 2000 revenue of two companies. Cablevision had revenue of $4.4 billion, ranking it No. 16, not No. 17. Cox had revenue of $7.8 billion, moving it up from No. 12 to No. 9. Also, Paul Allen was incorrectly listed as Charter chairman and CEO. He is chairman, but Jerry Kent is president and CEO.