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Jul 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Comcast Sells QVC Stake to Liberty

Cable giant Comcast today agreed to sell its 57.5 percent stake in home shopping network QVC to John Malone’s Liberty Media for $7.9 billion, ending a months-long dance between the two companies over the fate of the channel.

Philadelphia-based Comcast said exact details of the sale would be worked out in coming weeks but said that Liberty has the option of paying for the stake with cash, debt or class A Liberty stock.

The sale ends three months of negotiations between the two companies over the channel. In March, Liberty-which had long made it known it wanted to own QVC outright-triggered a clause in its partnership deal with Comcast that began the unwinding of QVC’s joint ownership arrangement.

Because both companies could not agree on the value of the channel, each hired appraisers in late spring. Once that process was completed Comcast had 30 days to decide whether to buy the channel. If no decision was made, the same option went to Liberty. If neither company decided, then the channel would have gone up for auction.

CBS Reshuffles Prime-Time Lineup: CBS bumped its new sitcom “The Stones” to midseason, giving “Becker” its time slot on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. CBS Entertainment President Nancy Tellem said in a statement that the move was made to strengthen Wednesday nights, where the network is launching a 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. comedy block. “By pairing ‘Becker’ with ‘King of Queens,’ we are opening a new comedy block on Wednesday with two proven and successful series,” she said. “Both of these shows provide instant name recognition for a new hour of comedy.”

The move will also give the Warner Bros.-produced “The Stones” a better shot at success because the network will be able to devote more promotional resources to its launch at midseason, Ms. Tellem said.

Court TV to Unveil New Programs: Court TV is unveiling two new series and three new original telefilms at the summer edition of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, getting under way this week in Los Angeles.

The cable network is expected to announce the following projects during its session July 7:

“Fake Out” (working title), a reality/game series set to debut Oct. 1, in which participants use investigative and lie-detecting techniques to try to determine whether their opponents are lying or telling the truth. The series is hosted by Jack Trimarco, a former FBI interrogator.

“Mind Games,” a hidden-camera reality series scheduled for late fall that will focus on theories of human behavior, to be illustrated by “experiments” in the field.

“The Christy Adair Story,” a true-life telefilm starring Jane Seymour (“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman”), who also co-produces, as a woman on a jury convinced that her fellow jurors are unjustly convicting an innocent man. Actor James Keach, Ms. Seymour’s husband, will direct.

“The Perfect Witness: The Debbie Smith Story,” a true-life telefilm starring Ally Sheedy (who also starred in Court TV’s “The Interrogation of Michael Crowe” telefilm) as a police officer’s wife and the victim of a sexual assault who becomes a crusader for DNA-testing reform.

“Executing the Innocent: The Gary Graham Story,” a true-life telefilm, set in the period when George W. Bush was governor of Texas, about the struggle to free a man on that state’s death row.

CNBC Restructures News Management: CNBC will restructure its news management, a “strategic decision” that will eliminate the positions of executive producer that have been held by Ted Shaker and Elyse Weiner. A CNBC spokeswoman said Mr. Shaker and Ms. Weiner had opted to leave.

David Friend, senior vice president of business news since last December, intends to hire a news director by the end of the third quarter. The news director will be in charge of all CNBC programming from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., instead of splitting dayparts between multiple executive producers.

The news director will be on par with managing editor Judy Dobrzynski, the former New York Times editor who runs the CNBC news desk.

CNBC’s viewership in the second quarter was flat year-to-year, but its performance in the 25-54 demo was up 35 percent.