Getting Ready to Deal


Viacom has hired Morgan Stanley to help it figure out which TV stations to divest to get back under the 35% ownership cap. With the acquisition of CBS, Viacom's local-TV-station coverage climbed to 41%. Viacom wants to swap stations (creating additional duopolies where it can) and not just sell off stations. The groups it makes the most sense to deal with are FOX and Tribune. With its acquisition of Chris-Craft, FOX will be 5% over the cap. There are between 15 and 20 overlap markets among the three groups. The serious horse-trading hasn't begun yet.