Time Warner has finalized an agreement to take full control of Court TV, buying partner Liberty Media's half of the channel for $735 million. Time Warner already owns the other half of the network.
Court TV will now become part of Time Warner's basic cable networks unit, Turner Broadcasting System, reporting to Entertainment Group President Mark Lazarus. "We know that Court TV will make Turner stronger and Turner will make Court TV stronger," Lazarus says.
As reported earlier, Court TV chief Henry Schleiff will be exiting. For the next six months he will serve as "non-executive chairman," focusing on Court TV’s transition to Turner and public service initiatives.
Schleiff’s number-two, Court TV President Art Bell, will become the network’s top executive, but his responsibilities will be over programming and marketing, or as TBS Chairman Phil Kent puts it: "The parts of the network that are tied most directly to what people see on air." Ad sales, affiliate sales, and other business functions will be spread to other parts of Turner.
The deal values all of Court TV at nearly $1.5 billion, more than double the $600 million valuation when Schleiff took charge in 1998.