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BET Holdings Inc.’s Black Entertainment Television Inc. subsidiary has acquired 80% interest in Santa Monica-based Avalon Pictures Inc. for $ 13 million cash and assumption of certain debt. Avalon Pictures is the owner of Action Pay-Per-View, a national satellite pay-per-view channel with about 5 million addressable cable subscribers. Avalon will be renamed BET Action Pay-Per View. Curtis N. Symonds, executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing for BET Cable Network, has been named the new president and chief operating officer “to oversee the acquisitions operations.”

Continental Cablevision has reached a six-year agreement with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. and Hearst Corp. for carriage of all broadcast stations owned by each of them. In exchange for that permission, Continental has agreed to a substantial launch of ESPN2 to its systems on a nationwide basis.

Standard & Poor’s Corp. said it has assigned its BBB- rating to Newscorp Overseas Ltd.’s offering of 9.2 million cumulative guaranteed preference shares, with proceeds of about $ 230 million. The rating reflects the small total amount of preference stock and minimal impact on fixed-charge coverage. S&P also affirmed its BBB- senior debt rating and BB+ subordinated rating on $ 4.4 billion in debt of News Corp. unit News America Holdings Inc.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. downgraded Viacom Inc. Class A shares to “underperform” from “market perform” on a price basis. Viacom’s stock has risen some 18% in the past three weeks of trading and set a 52-week high Tuesday of 60 1/2.

Nostalgia Network Inc. said it has engaged Daniels & Associates, an investment bank specializing in the cable TV industry, to assist in seeking a transaction aimed at maximizing the value of the company for all shareholders. The company would not say whether Daniels & Associates will be dealing with Excellerated Learning Institute’s offer to purchase a majority stake in Nostalgia.

Gannett Co. reported net income of $ 113.6 million (78 cents per share) for the second quarter ended June 27, up 16% from the $ 97.8 million (68 cents) earned in the same period last year. Revenues were up 5% to $ 937.8 million.

Toshiba America Consumer Products Inc. has formed Multimedia Products Group, headquartered in Buffalo Grove, Ill. The unit is a merger of the Computer Display Group and the Professional Video Systems Group. Mark Dziekan was named national sales and marketing manager for the unit. Toshiba America is a unit of Toshiba Corp.

For the second quarter, Westinghouse Electric posted a net income of $ 84 million (20 cents a share), down 20% from the $ 122 million (35 cents) earned in same period last year. The Pittsburgh-based company reported a 10% drop in revenues to $ 2 billion, from the comparable quarter. Earnings were affected by approximately $ 20 million (5 cents) in operating income during the previous year from discontinued operations.

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