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News > Deals
Fox Family on the block
May 11, 2001: 6:49 p.m. ET

News Corp., Saban seeking suitors for children's programming network
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - News Corp. and Saban Entertainment are looking to sell Fox Family Worldwide Inc., their co-owned children's programming concern, a person familiar with the situation told CNNfn.com.

The companies are seeking $4 billion-to-$6 billion for the assets, the source said. However, there is disagreement whether the assets are worth that much, given the Fox Family's recent less than stellar operating performance, the interactive version of the Wall Street Journal said.

Fox Family Holdings include the Fox Family Channel Cable network, which is distributed in over 80 million homes, and airs shows such as "Angela Anaconda" and "Donkey Kong Country."

Viacom Inc. (VIA: up $0.46 to $54.60, Research, Estimates) has been approached and will give the assets a look, a source said. Viacom already owns MTV, Nickelodeon, The National Network (TNN), and recently acquired BET.

News Corp. (NWS: down $1.00 to $38.18, Research, Estimates) also has had talks with Viacom about becoming a partner in Viacom's struggling United Paramount Network, the WSJ said. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is currently in discussions with General Motors Corp. on a deal that would combine satellite subsidiaries Hughes Electronics Corp. and Sky Global Networks.

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News Corp. and Saban also pitched a deal to USA Networks but the company isn't interested, a source familiar with the situation told CNNfn.com. USA Networks (USAI: up $0.59 to $26.44, Research, Estimates) is conservative in what it will pay for assets, and CEO Barry Diller said recently in an earnings conference call that he was not interested in the assets.

"We have always said we would consider our options," News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher said. "The option that we take regarding Fox  Family will be the one that maximizes our return on the asset. "

News Corp.'s rival, AOL Time Warner (AOL: down $0.81 to $51.64, Research, Estimates), the parent company of CNNfn.com, declined comment on the matter, as did other potential suitors Walt Disney Co. (DIS: up $0.19 to $31.27, Research, Estimates) and General Electric Co.'s (GE: down $0.82 to $49.01, Research, Estimates) NBC.

Saban, best known for the Power Rangers children's action series, and News Corp. have experienced a rocky corporate partnership in the past, the Journal said. Last December, Haim Saban exercised a contractual right to force News Corp. to buy out his stake in the venture, but the two sides have been unable to agree on a value for the company.

Both Viacom and USA Networks declined to comment. graphic





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