John Malone’s Liberty Media last week said it is planning to buy back $1 billion in debt securities as part of the company’s effort to reduce its debt load. Once the buyback is completed, Liberty said it will have achieved its goal of reducing its debt load by $4.5 billion. So far this year, Liberty said, it has retired $725 million of the $1 billion in debt it plans to retire by the end of the year.
Charter Ups Lovett to COO Amid Exec Hemorrhage
Charter Communications last week promoted Michael Lovett to chief operating officer of the cable company. Mr. Lovett’s appointment comes amid months of steady departures from Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Mr. Lovett joined Charter in 2003 as senior VP of operations support and was promoted to executive VP of operations and customer care in September 2004. The appointment fills a high-level hole left in the executive suite. In January CEO Carl Vogel stepped down amid board dissatisfaction with the company’s performance. His resignation triggered a series of departures.
New Vision to Sell 2 ABC Affiliates to Barrington
New Vision Television last week said it has agreed to sell two ABC affiliates in the Southwest-KVII-TV in Amarillo, Texas, and KVIH-TV in Clovis, N.M.-to Barrington Broadcasting Corp. for $22.5 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter, pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission. Last week’s station sale is the fourth this year for New Vision, a comp-any controlled by private-equity firm Arlington Capital, and comes at a time when New Vision is looking to acquire more stations in the Nos. 20 to 75 television markets during the next six to nine months.
Steve Case Buys Wisdom Media Group Assets
America Online founder Steve Case last week purchased the television and radio assets of Wisdom Media Group as he launches a new company that will focus on health care and real estate. Through his new company, Revolution, Mr. Case paid an undisclosed sum for Wisdom, which will be rebranded to enhance its association with wellness and fitness. As part of the purchase, Lee deBoer was named chairman, C.J. Kettler was appointed CEO and Robert Harris was tapped as chief financial officer. Wisdom’s content is presently distributed via video-on-demand on EchoStar Communications’ DISH Network and cable giant Comcast. Plans call for Wisdom under its new owners to gain a stronger presence on tele-vision, satellite radio and DVDs.