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Dec 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

News Corp.-DirecTV a Done Deal

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. announced Monday that it has completed the $6.6 billion deal that will give it a controlling 34 percent stake in DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics.

The deal, which transfers ownership of the No. 1 satellite operator to News Corp. from automaker General Motors, is widely expected to change the landscape for both satellite and cable, as Mr. Murdoch seeks to replicate the success he has had with British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), the dominant pay-TV service provider in Britain.

The completion of the merger follows approval of the deal late Friday by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

As part of the transaction, GM sold to News Corp. its 19.8 percent stake for a combination of News Corp. American depository shares and cash. News Corp. also purchased another 14.2 percent in Hughes from Hughes shareholders, who were given News Corp. American depository shares in exchange for their Hughes shares. The 34 percent interest was then transferred to Fox Entertainment Group in exchange for two promissory notes totaling $4.5 billion and 74.5 million Fox Entertainment shares.

As a result of the Hughes deal, News Corp.’s interest in Fox Entertainment rose to 82 percent from 80.6 percent, while its voting power remained at 97 percent.

WLS to Expand News to Saturday Mornings: ABC-owned WLS-TV in Chicago plans to add a Saturday morning newscast from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. starting Jan. 10. The station’s Sunday morning anchors Stacey Baca and Kevin Roy will front the Saturday show along with weathercaster Larry Mowry. The station has dominated Chicago news but has seen its news ratings erode for most newscasts over the past several ratings period.

TV One Gets Rights to ‘Good Times,’ ‘227’: TV One, a new entertainment network for African American adults, will include the classic hit comedy series “Good Times” and “227” in its programming lineup when the network debuts in January 2004. TV One acquired the rights to the series from Sony Pictures Television.

Bloomberg TV, E! Networks Sign Deal: Beginning in January, E! Networks will run Bloomberg Television from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Bloomberg is an Emmy-nominated global news network that provides Wall Street-based financial and business reporting. The distribution agreement with E! Networks is a three-year deal.

Court TV to Run Innocence Project Special: Court TV will premiere a one-hour documentary special, “Marvin Anderson’s Nightmare: Stories From Innocence Project,” Jan. 29 at 10 p.m. The special, hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, is the first in a series of documentaries the network is producing in collaboration with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld’s Innocence Project. The documentary tells the story of Virginia man Marvin Anderson, who was convicted of robbery, abduction and rape in 1982. Ultimately, with the aid of the Innocence Project lawyers, and DNA evidence, Anderson’s name was cleared, but not before he spent 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. To tell the story, the filmmakers received unique access to Mr. Scheck, Mr. Neufeld and the legal team at the Innocence Project, along with Mr. Anderson and his family.