Biz Briefs: N.Y. Times Co. Shedding Stake in Discovery Times

Apr 17, 2006  •  Post A Comment

New York Times Co. said last Thursday that it is exercising its right to require Discovery Communications to buy its 50 percent stake in digital cable channel Discovery Times, reflecting the newspaper group’s desire to focus more on short-form video for the Web. Officials at The New York Times said the terms of the joint venture peg the value of the stake at between $80 million and $135 million, the amount to be determined by an independent appraisal that will be conducted soon. Based on the $104 million invested in the channel through the 2006 first quarter, New York Times said the final appraisal price will determine whether the company books a gain or a loss on the sale of its stake.

TiVo Extends Agreement With DirecTV

Wall Street’s outlook for digital video recorder maker TiVo got brighter last week after the company said it reached an agreement with satellite operator DirecTV Group that extends their relationship for another three years. TiVo will continue servicing the 2 million DirecTV subscribers who currently have a TiVo box and will supply maintenance and support to those customers. However, DirecTV will not market the TiVo service to new subscribers, instead favoring a rival DVR from NDS Group PLC, which, like DirecTV, is controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Adelphia Revising Bankruptcy Plan

Adelphia Communications said last week it is revising its bankruptcy plan to settle a dispute among feuding credit holders that could stall the cable operator from completing its sale to Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Under the proposed revision, which requires approval from a bankruptcy court judge, Adelphia is seeking to allow creditors to vote on the company’s proposed bankruptcy plan or agree to a plan to put the dispute on hold temporarily to allow the rest of the case to proceed. Adelphia must emerge from bankruptcy for Comcast and Time Warner to complete the $17.6 billion purchase of the cable operator.

Equity to Merge With Coconut Palm

Equity Broadcasting, a station group that operates 132 television stations serving largely Spanish-language markets, said last week that it has agreed to merge with Coconut Palm Acquisition in a $205 million deal, plus the assumption of $62 million in debt. In the deal, which is expected to close June 15, Coconut Palm with merge with Equity Broadcasting, and the combined company will be renamed Equity Media Group. The new company also plans to go public. Little Rock, Ark.-based Equity Broadcasting holdings include 26 full-power stations, 37 class A stations and 69 low-power stations, operating in 33 markets. The company has 22 stations affiliated with Univision.

WKBW to Serve as Ad Sales Rep for WNGS

Beleaguered Granite Broadcasting, which is looking for ways to improve its financial health, said last week that its Buffalo, N.Y., station, WKBW-TV, has agreed to serve as the advertising sales representative for WNGS-TV, an independent station in the same market owned by Equity Broadcasting. As part of the deal, WKBW-branded news content will air on WNGS, including special news reports and a daily sports show. WNGS currently airs TV shows from the 1960s through the 1990s as well as a select number of New York Mets and New York Yankees pro baseball games. Granite also has struck an agreement with Fox Sports Net to carry 16 Detroit Tigers baseball games on WDWB-TV, a WB affiliate in Detroit that will convert to a MyNetworkTV affiliate in September.