NBC, DirecTV execs say no sale, but…


Despite ongoing rumors, the heads of NBC and DirecTV said their companies weren't for sale and their ownership structures would not change in the near future. The comments came during the Schroders- Variety Big Picture Conference in New York last week. Rumors have persisted in recent weeks that News Corp. is pursuing a takeover of DirecTV parent Hughes Satellite Corp. or possibly even Hughes'parent, General Motors Corp.

Asked about the rumors after a panel session at the conference, Eddy Hartenstein, president of DirecTV said there was "no substance" to reports that Murdoch was actively pursuing either Hughes or General Motors.

Nevertheless, on his panel, which addressed TV networks, cable and new media, Hartenstein acknowledged that "who we are affiliated with in the future is up for grabs." But any sort of merger, he suggested, was not a near-term proposition. In the mean time, Hartenstein said he'd continue to focus on building DirecTV's subscriber count, which surpassed 8.3 million in the first quarter. The company will also continue to take minority stakes in program services that want to launch off the DirecTV satellite platform.

Meanwhile, NBC president Bob Wright, speaking on the same panel, said that, in the "near future," he did not foresee a change in the company's ownership structure and that NBC would continue to develop new businesses from within as opposed to doing a major acquisition or merger. "It's harder to create businesses from scratch," he said, "but the reality is that is our charge."