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Biz Briefs

Apr 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

As The Walt Disney Co. works through the setback of a weak box-office opening of its latest film, “The Alamo,” Wall Street remains divided over what this bad news might portend for cable giant Comcast’s $54.1 billion takeover bid still on the table. Though Disney Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs issued a statement early last week reiterating management’s confidence that the company will handily surpass fiscal 2003 earnings, many analysts view the company as likely to feel some pain from the weak movie results-at least in the short term.
How that affects Comcast’s bid is at the center of the analyst debate. Douglas Shapiro, an analyst at Banc of America Securities, opined that regardless of what is happening at Disney, Comcast’s inability to significantly sweeten its offer means the cable operator has few options other than walking away. Meanwhile, Fulcrum Global Partners analyst Richard Greenfield thinks the box-office weakness could force Disney’s board to re-evaluate its position that Comcast’s bid is too low.
EchoStar May Spar With Turner Over Carriage
Just a month after ending its contentious battle with Viacom over an affiliate agreement, satellite operator EchoStar Communications appears to be gearing up to wage a new affiliate war-this time with Turner Broadcasting and six of its channels, including CNN. At issue are the terms of a new carriage agreement between Turner and EchoStar’s DISH Network to carry CNN, CNNfn, CNN Headline News, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies and Boomerang. Turner’s TBS and TNT are not included in the negotiations. EchoStar Chairman and CEO Charles Ergen raised the topic to subscribers last week and attempted to prepare EchoStar’s 9.45 million subscribers for the possibility that the channels soon might go dark.