Liberty CEO: DirecTV Stake Could Provide Distribution Muscle

Dec 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said Wednesday that recent talks with News Corp. to obtain the company’s 39 percent stake in DirecTV would provide Liberty with “distribution muscle” for its own media outlets, which include the QVC television shopping network as well as the Starz Entertainment group networks and Discovery.

However, Mr. Maffei, speaking at the UBS media and communications conference in New York, would not comment on the status of the ongoing discussions with News Corp. about swapping Liberty’s $11 billion piece of News Corp. in exchange for the Rupert Murdoch-led company’s 39 percent stake in DirecTV. Analysts, however, have speculated that an agreement could be completed within a month.

“Today we have a host of content assets that don’t have the distribution muscle we used to have,” said Mr. Maffei, who later noted that “since the sale of TCI, we have tried to protect those assets as much as possible, but we really haven’t had the ability to have an ongoing distribution arm to help do that. DirecTV could help in that process.”

Although News Corp. executives have denied their truth, rumors of the proposed tax-friendly swap began surfacing in September and launched speculation that Mr. Murdoch no longer considers the satellite television platform as a key to the company’s long-term plans.