With John Malone in the middle of a corporate showdown with Rupert Murdoch, Discovery Communications Inc. staffers are abuzz over exactly why CEO Judith McHale jetted off to Liberty Media Corp.’s Colorado headquarters last week.
McHale appeared on Thursday to make a special financial presentation to Liberty Chairman Malone and President Dob Bennett. What was odd is that Liberty—which owns 50% of Discovery—hasn’t asked for one in a few years.
Further, McHale gave a similar presentation about her 2005 budget two weeks ago to Discovery’s board, including Malone, Cox Communications President Jim Robbins and Advance Newhouse’s Bob Miron.
The briefing comes as Malone has panicked Murdoch by amassing a 17% voting stake in News Corp., suddenly threatening the Murdoch family’s control over the company. Malone is widely believed to be trying to leverage the stock position into a deal to sell News Corp. some assets.
Is Discovery becoming a chip in that game? A Liberty spokesman dismisses the speculation, saying Liberty started requesting such presentations from most of its companies last year. Discovery got to skip that chore last December, since Malone had just sat through its budget review. But this time around, for reasons they’re still trying to discover at Discovery, McHale’s presence was required out in Rocky Mountain country.