It's put up or shut time. Those weren't his exact words, but that was the
message from Bud Paxson, chairman of Paxson Communications Corp., to the company's
one-third owner, NBC.
That advice came in the form of comments Paxson made Monday in the wake of
the Federal Communications Commission's deregulation ruling.
"Publicly, NBC has continually said that were the rules to change, they would
think about finishing their acquisition of us," Paxson told Broadcasting &
Cable Monday. "Well, now the rules have changed, and if their decision is to
move forward, great. And if they don't, I think today's FCC actions have raised
the value of our company and created lots of buyers, perhaps for the whole
And certainly for many of the company's 60 TV stations, he added.
And what of the Pax TV network? If there is a buyer for the company, "of
course, the buyer could do what he wants," Paxson said.
"But if we were to sell off stations," he continued, "we would have the
opportunity to consider just going to the cable model. I'm not saying that's our
plan, but it's an opportunity."
Paxson said that if NBC bought the other two-thirds of Paxson, as both
station groups are currently configured, the merged entity would reach 46.2% of
the country, or only 1.2% above the new national ownership cap. All NBC has to
do to make the deal work is not buy one of the two "triopoly" markets involved,
Los Angeles or Chicago, he added.
Paxson said he's been taking lots of calls from interested station buyers
lately. "I don't think there's been one of our stations that somebody hasn't
Paxson said the company was valued by an outside appraiser in April at $2.9
billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2000.
The ruling clearly has bumped that value higher, Paxson said, adding that he
firmly believes the rules will go into effect as reported despite threatened lawsuits.
Responding to Paxson's remarks, an NBC spokesperson said, "We have never
viewed regulatory constraints as an issue in our relationship with Paxson. While
today's rulings could theoretically make an NBC-Paxson combination more
feasible, we need to assess the overall strategic merits of a Paxson