"We'd be thrilled if it happened," The Walt Disney Co. chief Michael Eisner
told attendees at the Goldman Sachs & Co. Communacopia XI Conference Tuesday,
confirming that the company is in talks with AOL Time Warner Inc. about merging ABC
News with Cable News Network.
Such a move would fit with Disney's "new horizontal strategy," which Eisner
defined as one in which similar lines of business on both the cable and
broadcast sides will be run as a single operation.
Under the strategy, ABC Daytime and SoapNet will be run together; ABC Family
by ABC prime time management; ABC Sports by ESPN.
In addition, Eisner identified ESPN and Disney as the company's core brands
He also effectively put a "for-sale" sign on Disney's
two sports teams in Anaheim, Calif.
And if somebody makes him the right offer on radio, he suggested, he would
sell that, too.
Also speaking at the conference, both Viacom Inc.'s Mel Karmazin and News Corp.'s
Rupert Murdoch said ad sales across their respective TV businesses are
strong and thriving and fourth-quarter sales are pacing double-digits ahead
of last year.
Said Karmazin: "There is extraordinarily strong advertising demand right now"
across all of the sectors.
Murdoch seconded that: "Business is great at the moment.
The past quarters have seen accelerated momentum."