JOHANNESBURG — In a deal likely to be worth in excess of $ 37.5 million, Ireland’s Independent Newspapers is to acquire 31% of South Africa’s largest newspaper group, Argus Newspapers.

The deal will give Independent Newspapers, which is chaired and controlled by Tony O’Reilly, effective control of Argus Newspapers.

Argus and major shareholders mining houses Johannesbury Consolidated Investment and Anglo American announced the deal Feb. 10 in the interests, they said, of deconcentrating ownership of the South African Press.

Independent Newspapers owns 65% of newspapers in Ireland and is the fourth-largest newspaper group in Australia.

Argus Newspapers’ revenue in 1993 was $ 205 million and its pre-tax profits totaled $ 15.8 million.

It publishes more than 4 million newspapers a week in South Africa’s major metropolitan areas.

O’Reilly is also chairman and chief executive of international food giant Heinz.

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Spain: Soccer, politics atop Spanish TV

MADRID –Spanish TV ratings outfit Sofres has released its list of the 100 top-rated TV attractions on Spanish tubes in 1993.

Not surprisingly, the largest audience share was the Spain/Denmark World Cup soccer game, which had a 33.1% maximum audience on pubcaster TV-1.

In second and third place were the televised pre-election debates between prez Felipe Gonzalez and contender Jose Maria Aznar on private webs Tele-Cinco and Antena 3, with 29.3% and 26.9% shares, respectively.

Fourth was a play, “Celeste No Es un Color” on TV-1, polling 26.5%, followed by “Quien Sabe Donde,” a reality show on TV-1, 25.3%; “Mesa de Reaccion,” a news show, on Tele-Cinco, 24.7%; “Police Academy II” on TV-1, 23.7%; “Farmacia de Guardia,” a local sitcom, 20.9%; a soccer match on TV-1, 20.4%; and “Celia,” a local miniseries, 20.0%.

Virtually no non-Spanish programs other than feature films are listed in the top 50 most popular programs: Latin soapers “Abigail” and “Kassandra” came in 56 th and 58th place; Yank series such as “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Melrose Place” came in 89th and 95th place.

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Italy: Rimini to honor work of favorite son

ROME — The city of Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast last week unveiled a series of initiatives to promote and facilitate the study and conservation of the work of the town’s favorite son , Federico Fellini.

Aiming to take a concrete hold of the visionary filmmaker’s legacy, officials from the hometown so frequently eulogized in his films have announced the birth of the Federico Fellini Foundation. Housed in the same historic palazzo as the Cinema Fulgor (a familiar feature from Fellini’s oeuvre), the FFF will serve as a repository and research center offering international film scholars access to an exhaustive archive of material.

Along with Fellini’s complete filmic output, the collection will include scripts, sketches, posters, film stills, soundtracks and costumes, as well as a comprehensive international bibliography covering his work, and video interviews with professional associates. Restoration and conservation of Fellini’s films will be overseen by the FFF in collaboration with Italy’s Cineteca Nazionale. Since the maestro’s death on Oct. 31 last year, commemorative events have become a major staple of his hometown’s cultural map. A complete retrospective entitled “Grazie Federico” kicked off on March 1, with all nine of Rimini’s exhibitors giving their screens over to Fellini classics on opening day.

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